Predicting Protected Lists: New York Rangers
The New York Rangers are in an interesting spot in terms of the expansion draft. They have a bunch of good forwards that they need to worry about, however it is the exact opposite on defense.
It is almost certain that the Rangers will be protecting seven forward and three defensemen.
For the forwards, Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello, JT Miller, Kevin Hayes, and Mika Zibanejad are all slated to earn protection slots.
That takes up six spots. The last spot can go to Rick Nash, who has a no-movement clause.
There are definitely some other good players that you could argue deserve a spot on the protection list over Nash. Michael Grabner and Oscar Lindberg are two of them.
All things considered, though, it is not worth it to ask Nash to waive his no-movement clause, try to trade him, or try to buy him out just to protect Lindberg or Grabner. In no disrespect to Grabner and Lindberg, they are not valuable enough pieces to do that for.
The defense is where things get strange. Ryan McDonagh is a no-brainer to be protected, but after that there are no clear choices. Well, technically there are not anyways.
Marc Staal and Dan Girardi both have no-movement clauses, which means both are required to be protected during the expansion draft.
The thought floating around most hockey minds currently is that the Rangers will buyout one of them, Girardi being more likely.
Is it worth it though? I know that sounds crazy to say, but the fact of the matter is that Vegas is not going to take a defenseman from the Rangers.
Brady Skjei is exempt. Kevin Klein and Nick Holden are not good enough for George McPhee to waste his time on, especially given the crop of defensemen that will be available for him.
At the end of the day, why not just bite the bullet and lose Jesper Fast, Michael Grabner, or Oscar Lindberg in expansion? A Girardi buyout can always come after. But there is no need to immediately rush into anything.
The Rangers could bribe Vegas to take Girardi’s contract, though. But, it seems improbable. It would likely cost Jeff Gorton a solid prospect plus a first round pick, which would heavily hurt the Rangers already depleted prospect pipeline.
Regardless, the moral of the story is that it should not be surprising if Dan Girardi is on the Rangers protection list. That does not mean that he will be back with the team next season.
In all, the Rangers protection list could look like the this:
Forwards: Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes, JT Miller, Mika Zibanejad, Rick Nash
Defense: Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi
Goalie: Henrik Lundqvist
The Rangers expansion draft plan, in the end, could go in a number of directions. Like the Islanders, only time will tell.
Next team: Ottawa Senators