The National Hockey League waiver draft, which will be held Monday, does not yield scoring champions and is not a way to build a Stanley Cup winner.

The draft can provide depth for a team, but more than that, it forces teams to show their cards and decide which players they want to keep.

The draft is designed in part to prevent teams from stockpiling NHL-ready players in the minors. Young players -- those who have not played two pro seasons and goalies who haven't played three -- are ineligible.

Teams must submit their lists of protected players by 5 p.m. Thursday, although changes can be made until Sunday. Each team gets an initial list of the players available on Friday and a final list Sunday. Eighteen skaters and two goalies can be protected.

"It seems like we have more guys that have played three or four years," said Capitals Coach Terry Murray, who will have to expose eight players to the draft. "Most of the time -- all of the time -- it comes down to a numbers situation."

In the first round, only the five nonplayoff teams pick, and none of them may select players from a team in its division. In subsequent rounds, all teams participate and there are no restrictions on which teams can be raided. The draft ends when every team passes.

This is the draft's basic format: When Team A selects Player 1 from the non-protected list of Team B, Player 1 must be placed on the protected list of Team A. That in turn means Team A must remove one of the orginal 20 from its protected list. Team B would then have the choice of taking financial compensation or the player (Player 2) Team A just removed from the protected list. If Team B takes Player 2 as compensation, he can be put on the protected list -- as long as another is removed -- or left on the unprotected list. In theory, a player could move several times within the draft.


Don't feel bad. Some league and team officials have not always been sure either.

The Capitals' Nick Kypreos serves as an example of both the complexity of the waiver rules and someone who has moved through its process. Kypreos was in the Philadelphia Flyers' organization last year at this time.

"The day before the draft, the list is posted with all the eligible players," Kypreos said yesterday. "My name was on. I asked the assistant general manager John Paddock and {then general manager} Bobby Clarke if I was eligible and they said no. I had played 10 games {in 1986}, then went back to juniors as an overage player, and they thought I was not eligible because those games didn't count as a year. But it did, and therefore I was eligible.

"So I'm sitting in a hotel and I get a call from a reporter in Harrisburg and he asks me if I had any comment since I had been picked up by the Washington Capitals. I said there must be some mistake. He said it was official. I said I'd have no comment and that I'd have to talk to Bob Clarke. Just before I was going to hang up, the operator cut in and Clarke came on the line. He said, 'It looks like we lost you to Washington.' It was more like a shock at that point."

In deciding whom to protect, goalies are not an issue for Washington. Don Beaupre (even though he is unsigned) and Mike Liut are the only two eligible, so both will be protected.

There about 14 skaters that almost surely will be protected: Dino Ciccarelli, John Druce, Kevin Hatcher, Dale Hunter, Calle Johansson, Mike Lalor, Rod Langway, Steve Leach, Alan May, Kelly Miller, Michal Pivonka, Mike Ridley, Bob Rouse and Peter Zezel.

That leaves four spots for 12 other skaters. Less certain of being protected are Robin Bawa, Tim Bergland, Chris Felix, Mark Ferner, Jeff Greenlaw, Bill Houlder, Bob Joyce, Kypreos, Rob Murray, Kent Paynter, Neil Sheehy and Alfie Turcotte.

Bawa signed as a restricted free agent with Fort Wayne. The Capitals retain the rights to him, but they will not protect him.

Sheehy, who was to be released from Sibley Hospital yesterday, will be out of action for three to four months with a broken ankle, so he is unlikely to be protected.

Bergland, Rob Murray (both of whom are regular penalty killers), Kypreos, Paynter and Felix are the best bets for the other four protected spots.

Referring to last year's move, Kypreos said he was glad to go to a team that offered him a chance to play. Although he injured his knee, he played in 31 regular season games and seven playoff games.

This time, Kypreos, 24, knows he is eligible to be picked and is not certain that he will be protected.

"At this point in my career," said Kypreos, "I've learned to let go of things that are out of my hands and to not worry about them. I think I've had a good pretty training camp and can contribute to the team. If they want to protect me and start me here at the beginning of the season, they know I'll give them 110 percent like I always have. If not . . . there's nothing I can do."