Predicting Protected Lists: New York Islanders
The expansion draft status of the New York Islanders is currently incredibly difficult to predict. They are expected to make a trade or two beforehand, and it is also nearly impossible to tell how they are thinking in terms of who they will protect at forward.
As far as guaranteed protection picks go, John Tavares, Andrew Ladd, Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, and Thomas Greiss will be there.
Tavares, Boychuk, and Ladd all have no-movement clauses. None will be asked to waive. Leddy has been the backbone of the Islanders’ defense for the past three seasons and is going nowhere. For Greiss, he recently signed a new three year contract with the team and is slated to be the starting goaltender headed into next season.
Anders Lee and Ryan Pulock are also highly likely to be protected.
Lee posted a career-high 34 goals last season. He became a dominant net-front presence last season and the hope is that he will continue to put up the same numbers far into the future.
Pulock did not see more than one game of NHL time this season, but he is still too valuable for the Islanders to lose. His rocket of a shot will be featured on the powerplay for years to come.
Now, this is where things get tricky. The Islanders could either go the route of protecting four more forwards and no defensemen or two more forwards and one more defensemen.
The assumption is that one of Travis Hamonic or Calvin de Haan will be traded before the expansion draft. There is no inkling being given as to which of the two it might be, but regardless one will likely be gone in the next few weeks.
Further complicating things, Garth Snow is looking for a top-six forward in return for one of these defensemen.
Hamonic or de Haan would be an attractive option for Vegas to take. The Islanders certainly do not want to lose both, so I believe they will go with four forwards and four defensemen protected for the expansion draft.
Those four defensemen would be Leddy, Boychuk, Pulock, and one of Hamonic or de Haan.
The last forward spot could go to a number of players. Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome, and Josh Bailey are all options.
Strome and Nelson are two talented players but have struggled at times over the last couple of seasons. For Strome, his struggles have come offensively. For Nelson, it is defensively.
If the Islanders go with four forwards and four defensemen, the exposed of Strome or Nelson immediately becomes a top candidate to be selected by the Golden Knights. The talent of Strome and Nelson are undeniable, but there is a rightful risk that comes with these two players.
Bailey set a career-high in points last season with 56. At 27-years-old, he is not an ideal candidate for Vegas, but he would not be bad by any means. The Islanders clearly value Bailey and the two-way game he brings to the team, so it is entirely possible that he gets the last protection spot up front.
But, remember that trade involving Travis Hamonic or Calvin de Haan mentioned before? That’s where things get even trickier.
The trade, as aforementioned, would likely be bringing back a top flight forward to the Islanders. So, in the end, all three of Strome, Nelson, and Bailey could wind up being unprotected.
Or, to be fair, the Islanders could lose Hamonic and de Haan to expansion and trade and protect Tavares, Lee, Ladd, Bailey, Nelson, Strome, acquired player, Leddy, Boychuk, and Pulock.
There are an absurd amount of variables right now for the Islanders. Only Garth Snow knows his plan of action. We all just have to wait and see.
The possible New York Islanders protection list:
Forwards: John Tavares, Andrew Ladd, Anders Lee, and ONE OF Bailey/Strome/Nelson/player acquired in trade
Defense: Nick Leddy, Johnny Boychuk, Ryan Pulock, and ONE OF Calvin de Haan or Travis Hamonic
Goalie: Thomas Greiss
If the Islanders protect four and four, Strome, Nelson, and Bailey become prime targets for Vegas. If they protected seven and three, it becomes Hamonic or de Haan.
Next team: New York Rangers