Eight teams that should protect four defensemen in the expansion draft 

In next summer’s expansion draft, teams have two options in which to protect their players. One is protecting seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie. The other choice is protecting eight skaters and one goalie. The former gives you more players to protect but you risk losing a top-four defenseman, whereas the latter allows you to hold onto that fourth (or fifth, if you so please) defenseman, but you are losing out on protecting two top-six forwards. It is a calculated risk that teams have to weigh, and there are eight teams that should choose to take the second option and protect four defensemen. 

Anaheim Ducks 

The Ducks are forced into this situation currently. Kevin Bieksa has a no-movement clause, and unless he chooses to waive it, the Ducks will be forced to keep him (assuming he is not bought out). With a large bounty of young defensemen, the Ducks should choose the eight skaters strategy. This would allow them to protect Sami Vatanen, Hampus Lindholm, Cam Fowler, and Kevin Bieksa on defense, plus Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler, and Rickard Rakell up front.

Notable unprotected players in this scenario include Stefan Noesen (F), Josh Manson (D), Jakub Silfverberg (F), and Nick Kerdiles (F).

Arizona Coyotes

Arizona is in an interesting situation with the impending expansion draft. Most of their quality players, such as Martin Hanzal, Shane Doan, and Antoine Vermette, will be unrestricted free agents before the draft and technically wouldn’t require protection. Max Domi, Dylan Strome, and Brendan Perlini, who are all expected to play big roles next year, are exempt. This leaves the Coyotes with some wiggle room.

The Coyotes could choose to go the route of protecting Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Connor Murphy, Michael Stone, and Alex Goligoski on defense with Anthony Duclair, Tobias Rieder, Henrik Samuelsson, and Jordan Martinook* up front.

*Note: as of now, to fulfill the expansion requirements, the Coyotes must expose Jamie McGinn. It is still possible they could add players before then and protect McGinn over Martinook. You can find the whole list via @lonis119 on twitter here.

Notable unprotected players in this scenario include Jarred Tinordi (D) and Craig Cunningham (F).

Chicago Blackhawks

The Blackhawks are in a really sticky situation when expansion roles around. They already have three defensemen (Keith, Hjalmarsson, Seabrook) with no-movement clauses. Hossa, Toews, Kane, and Anisimov have them too. So that leaves the Blachawks with either three forwards to protect or one defenseman. With all things considered, the Blackhawks should protect Ville Pokka on defense. The young Finn hasn’t seen NHL time yet, but is slated to be a future top-four defenseman. He was the main piece coming back in the Nick Leddy trade, which would look even worse if Pokka winds up in Las Vegas.

Notable unprotected players in this scenario include Trevor van Riemsdyk (D), Marcus Kruger (F), Richard Panik (F), and Ryan Haggerty (F). Artemi Panarin is exempt.

Colorado Avalanche 
Like Anaheim, the Avalanche are put into a tough situation by a no-movement clause. This time is belongs to Francois Beauchemin. The aging defender, like Bieksa, could be bought out or waive his clause, but as of now he has to be protected. Along with Beauchemin, the Avs should choose to protect Tyson Barrie, Nikita Zadorov, and Erik Johnson. Up front, they could go with Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Carl Soderberg, and Nathan MacKinnon.

Notable unprotected players in this scenario include Mikhail Grigorenko (F), Blake Comeau (F), Eric Gelinas (F), and Duncan Siemens (D).

Side note: it’ll be interesting to see how the goalie situation in Colorado pans out. One of Varlamov/Pickard, both very good goalies, will have to be exposed unless there is a trade.

Edmonton Oilers 

This is a weird one, but hear me out. Defense is not at a premium in Edmonton, and they need to do all they can to preserve what they have. For the expansion draft, the Oilers should protect Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, and Brandon Davidson. Davidson established himself last year, and it would be a shame for the Oilers to lose the left-handed defenseman so quickly. Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Milan Lucic, and Leon Draisaitl could also be protected.

Notable unprotected players in this scenario include Nail Yakupov (F), Pat Maroon (F), Griffin Reinhart (D), Zack Kassian (F), and Anton Lander (F).

Nashville Predators

Whether it was Shea Weber or PK Subban on the team, it was almost always a guarantee for Nashville to wind up on this list. They have one of the best defensive corps in the league and David Poile would surely prefer not to lose one to Las Vegas. Ryan Ellis, Matthias Ekholm, PK Subban, and Roman Josi are the team’s big-four that should wind up being protected. James Neal, Ryan Johansen, and Filip Forsberg will occupy three of the remaining four slots, with one of Colin Wilson, Craig Smith, or Pontus Aberg getting the last spot.

Notable unprotected players in this scenario include Calle Jarnkrok (F), Colton Sissons (F), and two of Smith, Wilson, and Aberg.

New York Islanders

The Islanders were hoping to get Ryan Pulock exempt due to his slide year, but that wound up not happening. Therefore, they’ll likely be put into the position of protecting four defensemen. Those being Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Travis Hamonic, and Ryan Pulock. John Tavares, Ryan Strome, Andrew Ladd, and Anders Lee would potentially be the remaining four slots.

Notable unprotected players in this situation include Brock Nelson (F), Adam Pelech (D), Casey Cizikas (F), and Calvin de Haan* (D).

*Note: It is possible, however, that the Isles be one of the only, if not the only, team to protect five defensemen. Depending on how Ryan Strome and Calvin de Haan each preform in the 2016-2017 season, de Haan could take the last selection over Strome. It is an interesting situation to keep an eye on.

Winnipeg Jets 

The Jets, like the Ducks and Avalanche, are hindered by a no-movement clause. This would force them into protecting Tobias Enstrom, Tyler Myers, Jacob Trouba, and Dustin Byfuglien. The four forwards could be Marko Dano, Bryan Little, Mark Scheifele, and Blake Wheeler.

Trouba, currently a restricted free agent, could still be traded this offseason, but the likelihood of that happening is dropping by the day.

Notable unprotected players in this scenario include Mathieu Perreault (F), Adam Lowry (F), Joel Armia (F), and Alex Burmistrov (F).

-Kevin, @TheNHLFiles

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About The NHL Files

The NHL Files was created as an interactive blog for twitter on August 1st, 2013. Since then we have garnered over 5,700 twitter followers and many more blog followers. We intend to keep you up to date with articles & tweets.

Posted on July 18, 2016, in Ana. Ducks, Arz. Coyotes, Chi. Blackhawks, Col. Avalanche, Edm. Oilers, Las Vegas, NHL, NY Islanders, Predators, Wpg. Jets and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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