Predicting Protected Lists: Dallas Stars
The Dallas Stars face a few crucial decisions when it comes to the expansion draft. One comes at forward and one comes at defense.
The potential return of Valeri Nichushkin throws a wrench into Dallas’ plans. Jim Nill and company will not be complaining about the Russian power forward’s return, however now they have to protect him (or technically protect his rights) so that he does not become Vegas property.
Up front, three players are guaranteed to be protected — Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Jason Spezza.
Furthermore, it can be expected that Brett Ritchie and Radek Faksa will both be protected. The two young forwards broke out in the previous two seasons for Dallas and will continue to have an impact in their lineup moving forward.
If Nichushkin’s rights are protected as well, that leaves one spot remaining. It could go to either Cody Eakin or Antoine Roussel.
I’m here to propose an interesting scenario: if the Stars think that they will keep their third overall pick, I believe they will protect Antoine Roussel. However, if they feel that they are going to trade the pick, keeping Cody Eakin could happen instead.
The front of this entry draft is loaded with centers. Although Dallas will miss out on Patrick and Hischier, they still could take someone like Gabriel Vilardi or Casey Mittlestadt.
To be fair, the Stars could also take Miro Heiskanen, a defenseman, at #3 if they keep it.
The moral of the story is that there is still big decision to be made by Nill and the Stars. Eakin and Roussel are each valuable players in their own rights, it just depends on how Nill envisions his team moving forward. One of them will be exposed, regardless of if they Stars are picking at #3 or not.
The choice on defense is not much easier for Dallas. Although they have a lackluster defensive core, the Stars still have a number of worthwhile and young assets that they would like to keep.
Stephen Johns, John Klingberg, Jamie Oleksiak, and Esa Lindell are all justifiable protection picks.
John Klingberg seems like an obvious choice to be one of the selections here. Although he was a healthy scratch on multiple occasions last season, he still possesses a ton of potential and the ability to become a top-flight offensive defensemen in the league.
The choice between Johns, Oleksiak, and Lindell for the final two spots comes down to personal preference, yet again, from the Stars organization.
It is difficult to predict, however if I had to I would put Johns and Lindell on the protection list.
In net, Ben Bishop has a no-movement clause in his new contract. That will leave Niemi and Lehtonen exposed, not that Vegas would take them anyways.
Dallas’ protection list could look like the following:
Forwards: Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, Brett Ritchie, Radek Faksa, Valeri Nichushkin, and Antoine Roussel OR Cody Eakin
Defense: John Klingberg, Esa Lindell, and Stephen Johns
Goalie: Ben Bishop
As seen here, the Stars still have a lot of variables to sort out before lists are submitted a week from tomorrow. Only time will tell how they are thinking.
Next team: Detroit Red Wings