As we enter into the preliminary stages of NHL training camp, the regular season is becoming visible on the horizon. The final roster preparations are being made, and to be fair, trades could still go down.
This year, however, only the Blackhawks and Red Wings sit over the cap ahead of the season at $85,000 and $3,000,000 over respectively. Chicago’s roster can be sorted with one or two minor moves, as the situation is not as dire as it has been in years past. For Detroit, the situation is even clearer, as Johan Franzen and his $3,954,545 contract can be placed on long-term injured reserve for relief.
So, as the dust (presumably) settles, it’s time to look back: which team had the worst offseason in 2017?
For starters, the Penguins did not have a great summer, but they have not won two straight Stanley Cups for no reason. Trading down over twenty spots to acquire Ryan Reaves is pretty rough. Losing Nick Bonino did not help either. But, these are the consequences to being a dominant team in the salary cap era.
Their search for a third line center will continue into the first few months of the season, so if they can sort that out, the offseason will look much better. Regardless though, I don’t think Mike Sullivan, Sidney Crosby, or any Penguins fans will be losing any sleep moving forward.
The Capitals, however, were in a different situation. General manager Brian MacLellan went all-in last season, most notably acquiring Kevin Shattenkirk at the trade deadline.
Washington, as we know, still lost in the second round to Pittsburgh. The best-assembled team in the Alex Ovechkin era still could not get the job done, and the repercussions were costly.
The Capitals were forced to part ways with, either by free agency or trade, Kevin Shattenkirk, Justin Williams, Marcus Johansson, and Karl Alzner. They also lost Nate Schmidt to Vegas.
Barry Trotz will have to look to young players such as Jakub Vrana and Christian Djoos to fill in the holes left behind. The Capitals will certainly be a worse team next season, however it is not right to assume that they will no longer be a threat.
Moving on to a different area of ineptitude: the Colorado Avalanche. Joe Sakic failed to move out Matt Duchene this summer, and the burden of his situation is clearly weighing on the team.
The situation is at a boiling point between Duchene and the Avalanche. A change of scenery would benefit both parties, but Sakic’s price has just been too high for teams to match. In reality, he has decreased Duchene’s value by overpricing him. It’s funny how that works.
Besides that fiasco, the Avalanche did not make any huge moves this offseason. Protecting Semyon Varlamov instead of Calvin Pickard in the expansion draft was the only other head-scratcher.
On that subject, the Vegas Golden Knights’ offseason can be thrown into question.
The Golden Knights undoubtedly made a ton of great moves from June until now. Using their leverage to acquire two additional first round picks and Alex Tuch, among others, was super impressive. However, some of George McPhee’s further moves were confusing.
For one, they drafted way too many defensemen. Currently, they have eleven defensemen on one-way contracts. That’s about three or four too many, and that is even after trading the likes of Marc Methot, Alexei Emelin, and David Schlemko.
Due to their abundance on the blueline, the Golden Knights will either be forced to put some players through waivers or trade them below market value. McPhee once held all the cards, but now the role is reversed. What he does in these next few weeks will be interesting to watch.
Furthermore, they made some questionable picks during the expansion draft, like Deryk Engelland (an unrestricted free agent!) from Calgary and Tomas Nosek from Detroit instead of Petr Mrazek.
The Knights cannot be given a free pass for the offseason, but then again it’s hard to fault them. They were in a strange spot and made the most of it.
The Blackhawks had a weird offseason too, bringing back Brandon Saad and Patrick Sharp while ditching Artemi Panarin, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and a few more NHL-level players. These deals are not bad in essence, but it is wrong for Stan Bowman to go out and make these deals and signings just for the sake of getting the band back together. Plain and simple: the moves made the team worse.
Now that brings it to the be-all and end-all, the team which had the worst offseason in 2017.
That team is none other than the Florida Panthers.
Out of the ten top scorers for the Panthers in 2016-2017, five are no longer on the team. They let Jaromir Jagr leave in free agency. They bought out Jussi Jokinen. They traded Jason Demers.
Not a good track record already, but that is just hitting the surface of it.
They traded Reilly Smith to Vegas for a fourth-round pick just to get rid of his salary. Smith is one year removed from a 50-point season and a 8-points in six games playoff run. One bad season should not have changed the perspective on Smith, regardless of the money.
They also let 30 goal scorer Jonathan Marchessault leave to Vegas in the expansion draft. Granted, this one is more complicated than it looks, but they should have moved Marchessault prior to the Golden Knights having the opportunity. Teams would have been (and probably were) lining up at the door to acquire Marchessault at the trade deadline and possibly before the expansion draft as well.
Also, they tried to get Keith Yandle to waive his no-movement clause ahead of the draft, but he declined. That would have been another disaster.
Like with any trade, signing, or buyout, the moves made by all the aforementioned can be and will be looked at in hindsight. Only time will tell how the standings shake out this year, but looking at the moves made in the summer is a pretty solid start.
Day one has free agency has come and gone (for the most part). Some big names still remain on the board, however many have already vanished. Here are some of my notes and analysis from the first wave of the frenzy.
• Ryan Miller is a solid backup for the Ducks. He brings a true veteran presence behind John Gibson, which is something that had been absent in the past. This is a perfect fit for both player and team.
• The Coyotes added journeyman defenseman Adam Clendening on a one-year deal. This signing will prove as a low-risk, high-reward scenario.
• The Coyotes, however, also lost a lot of depth players, including Josh Jooris and Radim Vrbata. Chayka is banking significantly on internal progression up front from the likes of Perlini and Dvorak.
• The Hurricanes added a nice piece in Justin Williams. The veteran winger formerly played in Carolina and won a Cup with them in ’06. Is his and Scott Darling’s presence enough to boost Carolina back into the playoffs? They certainly look like a solid team right now.
• The Blackhawks continued their parade of bringing back former players, as they signed Patrick Sharp to a one-year deal. The base salary is $1 million but he can earn bonuses based on a number of factors. If he stays healthy, this will be a great value signing for Bowman.
• The Blackhawks also added two depth players to round out their bottom six on day one. Lance Bouma and Tommy Wingels both agreed to one-year deals. Neither are flashy players, however both can hold their own offensively and physically.
• The Stars brought in Martin Hanzal to finish their center core headed into next season. They now have Hanzal, Seguin, Spezza, and Faksa down the middle. It’s definitely one of the best groups in the league. All four players can thrive in all situations.
• Detroit brought in Trevor Daley on a three-year deal at $3 million per. It is not a backbreaking deal, but Ken Holland needs to commit to a full rebuild. Detroit does not have the assets currently to compete. Moves like this are doing more harm than good.
• The Panthers, who came into the day with eight forwards signed, added Evgeny Dadonov from Russia and Radim Vrbata from Arizona. Dadonov is the more promising addition, but both players provide a scoring threat regardless. Dadonov was originally drafted by the Panthers in 2007 and played 55 games with them before returning to the KHL. He had 66 points in 53 games there last year.
• Karl Alzner’s deal with Montreal was surprisingly reasonable money wise. Keeping him under $5 million for five years is very nice. Still, though, I’m surprised he didn’t wind up in Western Canada. I think Calgary getting Hamonic and keeping Stone hurt that.
• The Predators had an interesting day, inking Scott Hartnell and Nick Bonino. Some had a problem with the money ($4.1 million per) on Bonino’s deal, but the Predators had to make a move. Losing Neal and not pushing for Duchene or Thornton made Bonino a prime target.
• On a related note, I wonder if Peter Laviolette personally petitioned for the Scott Hartnell acquisition.
• The Devils got Brian Boyle on a two-year deal. Their center core now looks like Boyle, Zajac, Hischier, and Henrique. That can compete with anyone in the league. Albeit, they are still a few years away from contention due to their wingers and defense.
• The Rangers fulfilled the prophecy and added Kevin Shattenkirk on a four-year contract late this afternoon. It fills a huge need for them, and as an added bonus he is of the opposite hand of Ryan McDonagh. That would be one heck of a pairing.
• The Flyers getting Brian Elliott is a perfect stopgap while their prized goalie prospects, specifically Carter Hart, develop in juniors and the AHL. It also seems that Ron Hextall and company do not have any faith in Anthony Stolarz. I wonder if he will get moved at some point this season.
• The Penguins signed Matt Hunwick to a three-year deal worth over $2 million per season. He is a reliable #6 defenseman, but that contract is ridiculous. Plain and simple, he isn’t worth that kind of money.
• The Sharks brought back Joe Thornton for one year but Patrick Marleau still remains undecided. I bet that would leave a sour taste in Thornton’s mouth moving forward if Marleau left.
• The Lightning added Dan Girardi for two years and Chris Kunitz for one year. Girardi has a chance to revitalize his career under Cooper. Kunitz, a four-time champion, can help try to push Tampa Bay over the edge.
* The Leafs did a good job adding depth in Ron Hainsey and Dominic Moore. The most important outcome was that no spot will be taken away from one of their younger players.
• The Canucks made a few signings, Sam Gagner, Anders Nilsson, and Michael Del Zotto included, today. Not bad players and they have the chance to be flipped down the road if they perform well enough.
• The Jets adding Steve Mason is a very nice move. It gives Eric Comrie a chance to develop and Connor Hellebuyck a more subdued role. The Jets also added Kulikov on defense. They aren’t looking to shabby for next season.
Stay up to date on our twitter for more free agency talk.
The 2017 NHL Entry Draft has come and gone, and here are some of my notes and analysis on what happened.
• The Devils taking Nico Hischier over Nolan Patrick is not surprising, however I still maintain that Nolan Patrick would have been the better fit on New Jersey. That is not a knock to Hischier by any means, as he remains a dynamic forward that is on track to have a great career with the Devils.
• Certainly, neither Hischier nor Patrick are on the level of McDavid or Matthews. That does not mean that they are not immediately serviceable NHL guys, though. Hischier seems to be a lock to make the Devils, and with the Flyers trading Brayden Schenn (we’ll talk about that later), Patrick seems to be heading towards making Philly’s roster as well.
• The Canucks made a fantastic pick with Elias Pettersson at No. 5. He has a ton of skill and scoring ability, and, in my option, he is a better player with more upside than Cody Glass and Michael Rasmussen.
• The Canucks also had the best draft on the surface out of any of the 31 teams. After Pettersson, the highlights of their draft included Lind, DiPietro, and Gadjovich. After a few rough years, this was a diamond for Jim Benning’s résumé.
• The Rangers took a reach with both Lias Andersson (#7) and Filip Chytil (#21). They still have the ability to transform into NHL-caliber players, despite the fact that they were taken a bit ahead of where they were ranked. There were certainly (seemingly) better players on the board for Gorton, though.
• Vegas took Cody Glass and Nick Suzuki with their first two first round picks in the draft. Having center depth is so important in today’s age. I like the way Vegas built their team in this draft. McPhee did a great job in round one.
• The Flyers got an impressive haul in exchange for Brayden Schenn. Jori Lehtera is not an outstanding player, but the two first round picks are super nice. One is conditional, but regardless, not many players in the league will garner two firsts in a trade. Ron Hextall saw an opportunity and jumped on it.
• To end the first round, the Predators took Eeli Tolvanen at 30 and the Blues took Klim Kostin at 31. In some mock drafts, both guys were slated to go in the top ten. This draft had a lot of movement (player wise) in it, but those picks are heists for Poile and Armstrong. Both will be fantastic players.
• The Blues got that pick for the Penguins. They moved up 20 spots and got Oskar Sundqvist for sending Ryan Reaves to Pittsburgh. It is a weird trade for sure, but it will not be back breaking for the Penguins. Rutherford wanted protection for his stars.
• The Islanders traded Travis Hamonic and a fourth round pick to Calgary on day two for a first and two seconds. This is a nice return for Hamonic, however Garth Snow needs to flip those picks for immediate help. Matt Duchene seems out of the question, but Alex Galchenyuk could be a fit. He would have a chance to play second line center behind John Tavares.
• The rest of the draft was pretty ordinary. Players obviously have the capability to rise and fall greatly after the second round, so there were a bunch of off the board picks. Two I liked were Ian Scott in Toronto and Ukko-Pekka Lukkonen in Buffalo. Both are goalies with a ton of upside.
• The state of the trade market is up in the air following the draft. There are still a bunch of names, such as Duchene, Scandella, Methot, E. Kane, and Galchenyuk, that were rumored to be moved but were not. There is always more talk than action in today’s gridlocked NHL. Maybe something will break due to the weak free agency list this year.
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The host city for this year’s NHL Entry Draft, Chicago, made a gigantic splash early on in the day.
Shortly after the Blackhawks were eliminated from the playoffs, general manager Stan Bowman promised change. Clearly unhappy with being swept out in the first round, change is exactly what Stan Bowman brought.
The first move he made was trading defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson to Arizona in exchange for defenseman Connor Murphy and forward Laurent Dauphin. Although initially believed to be a salary cap move, the Blackhawks wound up only saving approximately $300,000.
Trading Hjalmarsson was surely a difficult endeavor for Bowman. The Swede has been one of the most underrated defensemen in the league for quite some time now.
Connor Murphy is a formidable NHL player but he is not at the caliber of Hjalmarsson, at least not yet. To be fair, Murphy is younger and carries more of a certainty with his cost (signed for five more years at $3.85 million). Hjalmarsson only has two more seasons left on his current deal before he hits unrestricted free agency.
Dauphin, once considered a top prospect, has fallen off a bit, but he still holds the capability of being an NHL regular. Whether he plays in Chicago or Rockford next season remains to be seen.
However, with no disrespect towards Murphy or Dauphin, this is a great trade for Arizona. Hjalmarsson will serve as a good mentor and experienced winner on a young Coyotes squad. Plus, obviously, he is a fantastic defender.
The Blackhawks were not done yet though. A few moments later, rumblings from Elliott Friedman indicated a swap involving Brandon Saad and Artemi Panarin was in the air. With a few extra moving parts, the deal did eventually go through.
The final result was Columbus getting Artemi Panarin and Tyler Motte and Chicago getting Brandon Saad (back) and Anton Forsberg. Low picks were also swapped.
It is hard to get a read on this trade. Panarin and Kane had chemistry, but you could put almost anyone on Kane’s line and they will click given Kane’s skill set.
The overarching theme here, I believe, is that the Hawks were looking for someone to play with Jonathan Toews. He and Saad were dominant in the few years they were together. After consecutive disappointing years by Toews, maybe this will give him the boost he needs.
As for Panarin, he was just set to begin a new deal with Chicago. He is set to earn $6 million for the next two years before hitting unrestricted free agency.
This is a trade that will be looked at in hindsight after seeing how Saad and Panarin perform on their (technically) new teams.
As for the other pieces, Motte will likely slot in the bottom six for Columbus. Forsberg will have the chance to compete for a backup spot in Chicago.
Stay tuned for more draft coverage.
This is the final edition (and subsequently the third edition) of the 2017 NHL mock drafts on this site. Due to travel, I do not have time to put an explanation behind these picks. But I do have a few notes first:
For one, I believe that the Devils are one of the few teams that Nolan Patrick fits better on than Nico Hischier. However, I think the Devils will go Hischier. Still, neither is a poor choice.
Furthermore, this draft has gotten the reputation of being a weak draft. It certainly does not have a “generational player” like Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews at the top, but it is still solid through and through. There is leeway for players to slide and rise, but the stock of the draft is still impressive. It is not a throwaway, although some fans are treating it like that.
Lastly, we could see a few trades involving picks on draft day. Dallas’ third pick and Vegas’ picks are key pieces that could be moved, with the former being more likely than the latter. The movement of picks will significantly affect the draft as many players have the capability to jump in the rankings.
With that being said, here is my final NHL mock draft:
1. New Jersey: Nico Hischier
2. Philadelphia: Nolan Patrick
3. Dallas: Mirco Heiskanen
4. Colorado: Cale Makar
5. Vancouver: Cody Glass
6. Vegas: Gabriel Vilardi
7. Arizona: Elias Pettersson
8. Buffalo: Cal Foote
9. Detroit: Casey Mittlestadt
10. Florida: Michael Rasmussen
11. Los Angeles: Owen Tippett
12. Carolina: Nick Suzuki
13. Vegas (via WPG): Martin Necas
14. Tampa Bay: Timothy Liljegren
15. Vegas (via NYI): Jusso Valimaki
16. Calgary: Eeli Tolvanen
17. Toronto: Uhro Vaakaninen
18. Boston: Nicolas Hague
19. San Jose: Kailer Yamamoto
20. St. Louis: Shane Bowers
21. NY Rangers: Klim Kostin
22. Edmonton: Lias Andersson
23. Arizona (via MIN): Erik Brannstrom
24. Winnipeg (via VGK via CBJ): Kristian Vesalainen
25. Montreal: Ryan Poehling
26. Chicago: Robert Thomas
27. St. Louis (via WSH): Jason Robertson
28. Ottawa: Jonah Gadjovich
29. Dallas (via ANA): Pierre-Oliver Joseph
30. Nashville: Isaac Racliffe
31. Pittsburgh: Maxime Comtois
See you tomorrow for draft day.
The first dominos of the trade market fell on Thursday afternoon, with a trio of trades being completed.
The first was Jordan Eberle to New York for Ryan Strome. The second and third were both Vegas dealing defensemen to the Eastern Conference, as Trevor van Riemsdyk and David Schlemko went to Carolina and Montreal respectively.
My initial reaction to these deals is mixed. But, we’ll take it one by one.
For the Oilers and Islanders, the logic behind the deal is obvious. Edmonton wanted to shed salary either for free agency or to re-sign Kris Russell. Trading Eberle for Strome saves them $3.5 million on the cap for next season.
As for the Islanders, this is a win-now move. Strome is under a .50 points-per-game pace for his career. Eberle, on the contrary, is nearly at .75 points-per-game for his career. Eberle and Tavares also go back almost a decade in terms of their relationship. Both player for Team Canada’s World Juniors team in the late 2000s.
The logic behind the deal is evident, but the Islanders are the winners on the surface. They are getting the more established and more consistent player. However, what the Oilers will do with the added cap space remains to be seen.
As for the van Riemsdyk to Carolina trade, it seems fair for both sides. van Riemsdyk will get a chance to thrive in a larger role in Carolina, whereas Vegas gets a second round pick back for someone that they acquired for nothing.
The deal just further exemplifies how many draft picks Vegas is stockpiling. In the first two rounds this year, they now have three first round picks and three second round picks. It is quite the head start for the league’s 31st franchise.
Lastly, the Schlemko deal is a great one for Montreal. Giving up just a fifth round pick for him is a steal.
Schlemko has three more years left on his deal at $2.1 million per. He is a fantastic skater, and, in fact, his skating is what made him so successful in San Jose last season.
Schlemko will be able to slot in anywhere between the #4 and #6 role in Montreal. He is able to play in all situations and would be a nice replacement (in a sense) for when Andrei Markov departs.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Expect many more moves to come in the next few days.
The biggest weeks of the NHL season, apart from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, are upon us.
This time of year is always busy due to the impending entry draft and free agency. However, the expansion draft presents general managers with a whole new entity to deal with this time around.
Within these next 18 days, an extraordinary number of players will be moved. Whether it be to improve teams or to ensure players are not lost to the Vegas Golden Knights for nothing, there will be a tremendous amount of transactions made and a lot more chatter to go along with them.
Here are 30 players from the 30 teams, excluding Vegas of course, that could be moved in his hectic time period. Some of these are reasonable speculation, whereas others are sourced.
Anaheim Ducks: Sami Vatanen
As everyone knows by this point, the Ducks have an influx of defensemen heading into the expansion draft. Vatanen being expendable stems from the fact that Fowler, Manson, and Lindholm are currently viewed as more valuable by the Ducks. Vatanen has the ability to play a strong two-way game and would be a welcomed addition to the top-four of almost every team in the league. The Leafs seem like an obvious destination, however Tampa Bay and Buffalo are also possibilities.
Arizona Coyotes: Anthony Duclair
Duclair split time between the NHL and AHL last season and his current standing within the Coyotes organization is unknown. Although he has not tapped in to his natural scoring ability lately, Duclair still possesses the ability to be a game-changer in someone’s middle-six. The cost will not be cheap, though.
Boston Bruins: Ryan Spooner
The Bruins have had Spooner’s name in the trade mill for seemingly two seasons now. Spooner has not found his stride in Boston, partially due to their incredible center depth. He is not going to get the rightful chance he deserves in his natural position while the team has Bergeron, Krejci, and Backes. According to Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News, the Canucks have expressed interest in Spooner.
Buffalo Sabres: Evander Kane
Just over two years after acquiring him in a massive trade, the Buffalo Sabres appear ready to move on from Evander Kane. The new regime, headed by general manager Jason Botterill, is looking to wipe the slate clean in Buffalo. Kane has the skills to be a 30 goal scorer in the league, but his off-ice attitude remains an issue. It is largely overblown by the media, but there still may be something there.
Calgary Flames: Sam Bennett
Bennett has popped up in the rumor mill recently, although he has not requested a trade. The Flames are likely listening on him, but a move being made seems unlikely at this point. The return would have to be astronomical to pry the former top-five pick from Brad Treliving. It is possible though. Elliott Friedman mentioned the Ducks as a destination.
Carolina Hurricanes: Eddie Lack
Eddie Lack was not a favorite of head coach Bill Peters last season and likely will not be returning to the NHL roster next year. Scott Darling is the main man in Carolina now, and due to seniority and partially play, Cam Ward is slated to be the backup. Lack can still be a solid backup in the league, but things just have not worked out in Carolina. I wonder if Edmonton would take a crack with him behind Cam Talbot.
Chicago Blackhawks: Niklas Hjalmarsson
Although the initial consensus was that Brent Seabrook may be moved out, Blackhawks beat writer Mark Lazarus clarified and stated that Hjalmarsson was much more likely. The Swede has quietly transformed into an amazing defensemen in Chicago, but he has been overshadowed by the likes of Duncan Keith and the aforementioned Seabrook. Whichever team lands him will be very lucky. The same teams interested in Vatanen will probably be in on Hjalmarsson, although they are opposite hands.
Colorado Avalanche: Matt Duchene
This is a biggie. Duchene was rumored to be on the move at this year’s trade deadline and the rumblings have only gotten bigger since. Bob McKenzie even proclaimed that he was the most likely player to be moved this offseason. Duchene will fetch a quality, young defenseman plus a first round pick at minimum. Joe Sakic cannot afford to take anything less for his superstar (although struggling) center.
Columbus Blue Jackets: David Clarkson
Clarkson is only included on this list because a trade involving him going to Vegas is essentially guaranteed to happen. In return for Vegas selecting Clarkson in the draft, the Blue Jackets will be sending at least a first round pick plus a prospect to Vegas. I suspect that prospect will be Oliver Bjorkstrand. The initial Clarkson report came from Elliott Friedman.
Dallas Stars: Stephen Johns
Jim Nill’s most prized asset this summer is his third overall pick. He will use that to either move down in the draft and get a defenseman or trade it for an NHL ready defenseman. Other than that, it’s hard to see Dallas moving anyone out. In terms o players they might lose in the expansion draft, Stephen Johns and Jamie Oleksiak head the list. So one of them could theoretically be moved beforehand.
Detroit Red Wings: Riley Sheahan
Although he did score a goal (actually, two goals) in the final game of the season, it is unclear what Sheahan’s future in Detroit is. Detroit has a number of other young players to protect, so Sheahan has a good chance of winding up in Vegas next season. Trading him beforehand may land Ken Holland a pick or two instead of losing him for naught.
Edmonton Oilers: Jordan Eberle
With three dynamic presences that can play center, Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers can afford to sacrifice a few wingers. Eberle carries a large cap hit ($6 million) and the money could be used to solidify the back-end for Edmonton or just to keep handy. Eberle has reportedly been of high interest, so it appears his days in Edmonton are finished. John Shannon of Sportsnet is reporting that as many as six teams are highly interested.
Florida Panthers: Alex Petrovic
When the Panthers asked Keith Yandle to waive his no-movement clause (reported by Elliott Friedman), it could have been so they could keep Alex Petrovic instead. The big, bruising, and rising defender has proved his worth in Florida. He would be a nice pickup for Vegas if they choose to go that route. However, if Florida did look at trading him, the return may not be worthwhile and they may just take the risk of losing him for nothing instead.
Los Angeles Kings: Brayden McNabb
With Doughty, Martinez, and Muzzin on the point, it is hard to see where McNabb fits in in Los Angeles’ protection plans. The defender has shined brightly since being acquired from Buffalo. At 26-years-old, plenty of teams would be interested. However, to be fair, the Kings could wind up holding onto McNabb by protecting four forwards and four defensemen.
Minnesota Wild: Matt Dumba
The Wild are one of those teams with a glut of talent that could be taken by Vegas in a week. They have too many forwards to not use the 7-3-1 protection method. Furthermore, Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon have priority on defense. It also appears that Chuck Fletcher has chosen Jonas Brodin over Matt Dumba, so Dumba is likely to be moved. He will fetch a nice return, but the player will (ideally) need to be expansion exempt or it will need to be for picks.
Montreal Canadiens: Alex Galchenyuk
This one has picked up a lot of teams in the past 24 hours. It seems extremely likely that Galchenyuk, who is not viewed as a center in Montreal’s eyes, will be moved. Nathan Beaulieu is equally as likely to go.
Nashville Predators: James Neal
Recently, Pierre Lebrun speculated that James Neal may be left exposed for the expansion draft. If that is true, he becomes a prime target to be taken and flipped by Vegas. David Poile, if he plans on exposing Neal, should jump on the opportunity to trade Neal to the East. It is not an ideal situation, but Nashville’s stellar defensive core has caused this.
New Jersey Devils: Jacob Josefson
Honestly, there are not really any rumblings coming from the Devils. Josefson could look to obtain a larger role in another organization. Other than that, the Devils’ biggest piece to move is the #1 overall pick. They would be using it to move down, but it is intriguing nonetheless.
New York Islanders: Calvin de Haan
The Islanders are looking to move out a defenseman for a top-six forward, and currently it is a coin-flip between Calvin de Haan and Travis Hamonic. Based on the fact that de Haan is younger and that Garth Snow declined a trade that would have sent Hamonic to Edmonton last offseason for Taylor Hall, it seems more likely that de Haan is moved out.
New York Rangers: Antti Raanta
Since coming over from Chicago, Antti Raanta has been nothing short of spectacular behind Henrik Lundqvist. Due to this, he may be selected by Vegas to be their 1A goalie for the upcoming season (or to get flipped). NBC’s Pro Hockey Talk reported that the Flames and Jets have contacted the Rangers about Raanta. The Rangers could definitely get a package similar to what they got for Cam Talbot, a couple of mid-round picks, back for him.
Ottawa Senators: Dion Phaneuf
The Dion Phaneuf saga over the past few days has been interesting to watch. Bob McKenzie reported that Phaneuf declined to waive his no-movement clause before the expansion draft. Then, today, Darren Dreger furthered that by stating that a few teams had interest in trading for Phaneuf. It is an unfortunate situation for an oft-criticized player who seemed to find a home in Ottawa. Dreger also speculated that Ottawa would be taking a contract back in the deal.
Philadelphia Flyers: Nick Cousins
The Flyers are definitely going to be picking at #2 this season, so the attention turns to the immediate roster at hand. Ron Hextall would like to see internal growth and is not likely to be moving out any core players, but a few depth guys could be shuffled. Nick Cousins is a young center who could use a larger role somewhere else. With Giroux, Filppula, Konecny, and one of Patrick of Hischier on the roster, Cousins will not be getting a fair shake in his natural position in Philadelphia.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Marc-Andre Fleury
Coming off back-to-back Stanley Cups, the Penguins are not going to want to change up much. Expect them to remain similar, however Fleury will be off the roster. It seems more likely at this point that he will wind up in Vegas, but a trade beforehand by Pittsburgh is not out of the question.
San Jose Sharks: Mirco Mueller
Mueller was a top pick for the Sharks back in 2013, but he has had a troubling NHL career since. To this date, he has only appeared in 54 career games. A change of scenery would benefit both parties.
St. Louis Blues: Jori Lehtera
After an impressive first season with St. Louis, Lehtera has fallen off a cliff as of late. With a large cap hit, it would be wise for Doug Armstrong to look for a suitor for the Finland native. It may be a fruitless effort, though.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Alex Killorn
Tampa Bay needs to choose between Alex Killorn and Vlad Namestnikov before the expansion draft takes place. Due to age, Namestnikov seems more likely, but it could go either way. Killorn is on a new, long-term deal and would be a viable option in almost all middle-sixes in the league.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Connor Brown
Although a home-grown talent, the Leafs may look to move on from Connor Brown. This deal only happens if they get a top-four defender in return, though. Elliott Friedman brought up a good point in one of his 30 Thoughts: Brown was drafted by Dave Nonis when he was general manager of the Leafs. Nonis now has a front office role in Anaheim. There could be a perfect fit.
Vancouver Canucks: Chris Tanev
Tanev’s name has surfaced in trade rumors for quite some time now. He is a dynamic defenseman on a solid contract, so the price is rightfully high. It is plausible that Jim Benning is shopping Tanev, however it will take a deal to believe it.
Washington Capitals: Nate Schmidt
With a few prominent defensemen to protect, the Capitals cannot afford to hold onto Nate Schmidt ahead of the expansion draft. His speed and offensive talents should make him coveted around the league. He may even be immediately ready to step into a top-four role on another team. His situation, although not cap related, reminds me a lot of when Nick Leddy went from Chicago to New York a few years ago.
Winnipeg Jets: Connor Hellebuyck
The Jets are trying to acquire a bonafide starting goalie, so I am curious as to whether or not they will move Hellebuyck. This one is pure speculation. If they can acquire another goalie, using Hellebuyck to improve another part of their team would be smart.
Stay tuned for more news and analysis on our Twitter feed.
The Winnipeg Jets are in a fairly good spot in regards to the expansion draft. They are only slated to lose a depth player or (spoiler) an injury-ridden Tyler Myers to Vegas.
Up front, the Jets will absolutely be protecting Mark Scheifele, Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler, and Mathieu Perreault.
After that, a trio of middle-six, younger players are expected to be protected. They are Adam Lowry, Marko Dano, and Joel Armia.
That is all there is for forwards. The most likely to be taken by Vegas out of the exposed forwards are Andrew Copp and Scott Komaschuk. Although valuable pieces, losing either of these players would not be crushing to the Jets.
On defense, the Jets have two players with no-movement clauses in Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom. The Jets are not expected to ask either to waive.
The choice then becomes between Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers. Myers, as previously mentioned, has struggled with injuries in the past few years and also has been the inferior player to Trouba. So, choosing Trouba to protect is easy.
The Jets gave up a lot in the Tyler Myers-Evander Kane deal a few years ago, but if Vegas decides to take Myers, it is not the end of the world. The defenseman they sent to Buffalo in that deal, Zach Bogosian, is struggling more than Myers is.
In goal, Connor Hellebuyck is currently projected to be protected. However, the Jets could acquire a goalie, such as Marc-Andre Fleury or Antti Raanta, to protect instead.
The Winnipeg Jets protected list could look like this in the end:
Forwards: Mark Scheifele, Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler, Mathieu Perreault, Adam Lowry, Marko Dano, Joel Armia
Defense: Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Jacob Trouba
Goalie: Connor Hellebuyck OR acquired player
Thank you all for following along with the “Predicting Protected Lists” series. It will be interesting to see how close this is to the actual protected list submitted by the teams. All previous teams can be found on the site. A link to a “moment” on Twitter with all the articles will also be posted.
Stay tuned for more articles in the next week.
Due to the fact that they have a large number of unrestricted free agents on the team, the Washington Capitals do not face many problems heading into the expansion draft. However, one place they where do have to make a quick decision is in goal.
At forward, six of the seven spots are essentially locked in.
Alex Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson, and Andre Burakovsky will all be protected.
After that bunch, the last spot comes down to three players, those being Jay Beagle, Brett Connolly, and Lars Eller.
In terms of age and production, the trio looks like this —
Beagle: 31-years-old, 31 points in 81 games
Connolly: 25-years-old, 23 points in 66 games
Eller: 28-years-old, 25 points in 81 games
Beagle’s numbers look more impressive, however, based solely on deployment and how much they forked over for him last offseason, the Capitals are likely to protect Lars Eller.
On defense, John Carlson and Matt Niskanen are going to be protected.
Albeit rumors have been swirling recently about a jump to the KHL, the Capitals are likely to protect Dmitry Orlov on defense as well. A case could be made for Nate Schmidt over Orlov, but head coach Barry Trotz clearly prefers the Russian.
Braden Holtby will be protected in goal. This leaves Philipp Grubauer to be taken by Vegas. The Golden Knights are looking to be young in net, and Grubauer possesses the ability to transform into a number one goalie. Grubauer has the chance to be the man in Vegas, which is an opportunity he will never get in Washington.
In total, the Washington Capitals probable protection list looks as so:
Forwards: Alex Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson, Andre Burakovsky, Lars Eller
Defense: John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov
Goalie: Braden Holtby
Unless they trade him in the upcoming days, the aforementioned Grubauer is likely to go to Vegas in the expansion draft.
Next team: Winnipeg Jets
The Vancouver Canucks’ protected list is, on the surface, seemingly easy to protect. However, GM Jim Benning could go off the board and protect one or two role players over a more skilled guy.
Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, and Loui Eriksson all have no-movement clauses. Eriksson was disappointing in his first season in Vancouver, however there is zero chance he is asked to waive.
Brandon Sutter, a key cog in Vancouver’s center core, also requires protection. That is not an issue either.
The rest of Vancouver’s forward slots can be filled up by younger players.
Bo Horvat is a guarantee. For the last two spots, Markus Granlund and Sven Baertschi are good guesses.
On defense, Chris Tanev is the only sure-fire pick to be protected.
The Canucks, though, do not have many other quality defensemen that could be selected by Vegas. Therefore, protecting Alex Edler and Erik Gudbranson is not an issue.
In net, Jacob Markstrom will be protected as Ryan Miller is an unrestricted free agent.
In total, Vancouver’s protection list is likely this:
Forwards: Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Loui Eriksson, Brandon Sutter, Bo Horvat, Markus Granlund, Sven Baertschi
Defense: Chris Tanev, Alex Edler, Erik Gudbranson
Goalie: Jacob Markstrom
For players that could be taken by Vegas, fringe-NHL guys such as Reid Boucher, Brendan Gaunce, Andrew Pedan, and Michael Chaput are options.
There is also a chance that Chris Tanev is traded this offseason. But, it remains likely that the trade happens (if it happens at all) after the expansion draft.
Next team: Washington Capitals
Due to many of their young superstars, including Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander, being exempt, the Maple Leafs are in a fantastic spot heading into the expansion draft. They are not slated to lose anyone of significance, and they could even use this opportunity to trade for a top-four defenseman from another team that would have otherwise been exposed.
At forward, Nazem Kadri, James van Riemsdyk, and Connor Brown are locks to be protected. Due to the nature of their roster, Tyler Bozak and Leo Komarov can go on that list as well.
That leaves two spots remaining with Brendan Leipsic, Matt Martin, Kerby Rychel, Josh Leivo, and Seth Griffith to choose from.
Matt Martin is a great role player and mentor to the youth on Toronto’s roster, however it would be wise for the Leafs to leave him exposed.
Furthermore, Josh Leivo and Seth Griffith are solid depth scorers, but they are nothing Toronto should be sweating over.
That leaves the two spots to go to Brendan Leipsic and Kerby Rychel. Both have the potential to become top-nine players on Toronto’s roster in the future.
Martin, Leivo, and Griffith all could wind up in Vegas. The latter two are more likely.
On defense, Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner, and Connor Carrick will most likely be getting the protection spots.
Of the exposed defensemen, Martin Marincin has the highest chance of winding up in Vegas.
In goal, Freddie Andersen is undoubtedly the guy to protect.
In total, the Toronto Maple Leafs could have a protection list that looks like this:
Forwards: Nazem Kadri, James van Riemsdyk, Connor Brown, Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov, Brendan Leipsic, Kerby Rychel
Defense: Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner, Connor Carrick
Goalie: Freddie Andersen
Next team: Vancouver Canucks
The Tampa Bay Lightning will have to make a fairly large decision up front before the expansion draft, however Steve Yzerman’s situation is not as dire as it is made out to be.
According to a report, Ryan Callahan is not expected to be asked to waive his no-movement clause. That makes him an obvious shoe-in to be protected.
Other guarantees to be protected at forward are Steven Stamkos, Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov, and Tyler Johnson.
There have been rumblings that Jonathan Drouin could be traded before the expansion draft. However, nothing has surfaced yet and he will be on Tampa Bay’s protection list as of now.
That leaves one spot remaining and it could go to either Vlad Namestnikov or Alex Killorn.
Namestnikov, 24, had 28 points in 74 games last season. He was a first round pick by Tampa Bay in 2011.
As for Killorn, the 27-year-old had 36 points in 81 games last season.
This choice is a coin flip to some people, however I believe that Alex Killorn will be the last protected forward for Tampa Bay.
Regardless of who is protected, though, the other player immediately becomes a top candidate to go to Vegas for next season.
On defense, Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman are guarantees to be protected.
After that, Slater Koekkoek is next in line. Although he is not as experienced as other options, he holds the potential to become a solid, top-four defender in the league. He is actually closer to that role than some people may think.
The Tampa Bay Lightning’s protection list could look like this:
Forwards: Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, Jonathan Drouin, Alex Killorn
Defense: Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman, Slater Koekkoek
Goalie: Andrei Vasilevskiy
The Lightnig’s list could change based solely on the fact that Drouin or Johnson could be moved in a trade. But as of now, this is where it stands.
Next team: Toronto Maple Leafs