Predicting Protected Lists: Montreal Canadiens
It is hard to make out how the Montreal Canadiens will be thinking for the expansion draft. There are a few guaranteed players to be protected, but after that, your guess is as good as mine.
Definitely being protected by Montreal are Max Pacioretty, Alex Galchenyuk, Shea Weber, Brendan Gallagher, and Carey Price. Jeff Petry, who has a no-movement clause, will be as well.
That leaves four forward slots and two defensive slots to be filled.
Andrew Shaw, Phillip Danault, and Paul Byron are three solid guesses. Shaw excelled in his first year in Montreal, albeit his points did dip from the previous year. Byron was able to break out as well and learned how to use his speed to his advantage. As for Danault, he was acquired two seasons ago from Chicago and has cemented himself in the center core of the Canadiens for years to come.
The last forward spot could go to a number of players.
It could be Tomas Plekanec, a veteran center who has, granted, lost some of his offensive touch in recent years. It could be Charles Hudon on the other hand, a center prospect looking to make the full time leap into the NHL next season.
Lastly, Alexander Radulov’s situation must be examined. Currently an unrestricted free agent, Radulov technically does not require protection. The team will want to sign him after the expansion draft, but Radulov wants a contract done as soon as possible.
Radulov will be staying in Montreal regardless, but the variable that stands is if he will take a protection spot away from Plekanec or Hudon or not.
On defense, it will be either Nathan Beaulieu or Alexei Emelin joining Weber and Petry. Due to age and contract status, I suspect it will be Beaulieu. That does not rule out him being traded later in the offseason, though.
In the end, the Montreal Canadiens could have a protection list that looks like the following:
Forwards: Max Pacioretty, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Andrew Shaw, Paul Byron, Phillip Danault, and Tomas Plekanec OR Charles Hudon
Defense: Shea Weber, Jeff Petry, and Nathan Beaulieu
Goalie: Carey Price
If Hudon is exposed, he will likely be in Vegas next season. If not, Jacob de la Rose and Daniel Carr are options.
Next team: Nashville Predators