Category Archives: NHL Expansion
The first dominos of the trade market fell on Thursday afternoon, with a trio of trades being completed.
The first was Jordan Eberle to New York for Ryan Strome. The second and third were both Vegas dealing defensemen to the Eastern Conference, as Trevor van Riemsdyk and David Schlemko went to Carolina and Montreal respectively.
My initial reaction to these deals is mixed. But, we’ll take it one by one.
For the Oilers and Islanders, the logic behind the deal is obvious. Edmonton wanted to shed salary either for free agency or to re-sign Kris Russell. Trading Eberle for Strome saves them $3.5 million on the cap for next season.
As for the Islanders, this is a win-now move. Strome is under a .50 points-per-game pace for his career. Eberle, on the contrary, is nearly at .75 points-per-game for his career. Eberle and Tavares also go back almost a decade in terms of their relationship. Both player for Team Canada’s World Juniors team in the late 2000s.
The logic behind the deal is evident, but the Islanders are the winners on the surface. They are getting the more established and more consistent player. However, what the Oilers will do with the added cap space remains to be seen.
As for the van Riemsdyk to Carolina trade, it seems fair for both sides. van Riemsdyk will get a chance to thrive in a larger role in Carolina, whereas Vegas gets a second round pick back for someone that they acquired for nothing.
The deal just further exemplifies how many draft picks Vegas is stockpiling. In the first two rounds this year, they now have three first round picks and three second round picks. It is quite the head start for the league’s 31st franchise.
Lastly, the Schlemko deal is a great one for Montreal. Giving up just a fifth round pick for him is a steal.
Schlemko has three more years left on his deal at $2.1 million per. He is a fantastic skater, and, in fact, his skating is what made him so successful in San Jose last season.
Schlemko will be able to slot in anywhere between the #4 and #6 role in Montreal. He is able to play in all situations and would be a nice replacement (in a sense) for when Andrei Markov departs.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Expect many more moves to come in the next few days.
The biggest weeks of the NHL season, apart from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, are upon us.
This time of year is always busy due to the impending entry draft and free agency. However, the expansion draft presents general managers with a whole new entity to deal with this time around.
Within these next 18 days, an extraordinary number of players will be moved. Whether it be to improve teams or to ensure players are not lost to the Vegas Golden Knights for nothing, there will be a tremendous amount of transactions made and a lot more chatter to go along with them.
Here are 30 players from the 30 teams, excluding Vegas of course, that could be moved in his hectic time period. Some of these are reasonable speculation, whereas others are sourced.
Anaheim Ducks: Sami Vatanen
As everyone knows by this point, the Ducks have an influx of defensemen heading into the expansion draft. Vatanen being expendable stems from the fact that Fowler, Manson, and Lindholm are currently viewed as more valuable by the Ducks. Vatanen has the ability to play a strong two-way game and would be a welcomed addition to the top-four of almost every team in the league. The Leafs seem like an obvious destination, however Tampa Bay and Buffalo are also possibilities.
Arizona Coyotes: Anthony Duclair
Duclair split time between the NHL and AHL last season and his current standing within the Coyotes organization is unknown. Although he has not tapped in to his natural scoring ability lately, Duclair still possesses the ability to be a game-changer in someone’s middle-six. The cost will not be cheap, though.
Boston Bruins: Ryan Spooner
The Bruins have had Spooner’s name in the trade mill for seemingly two seasons now. Spooner has not found his stride in Boston, partially due to their incredible center depth. He is not going to get the rightful chance he deserves in his natural position while the team has Bergeron, Krejci, and Backes. According to Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News, the Canucks have expressed interest in Spooner.
Buffalo Sabres: Evander Kane
Just over two years after acquiring him in a massive trade, the Buffalo Sabres appear ready to move on from Evander Kane. The new regime, headed by general manager Jason Botterill, is looking to wipe the slate clean in Buffalo. Kane has the skills to be a 30 goal scorer in the league, but his off-ice attitude remains an issue. It is largely overblown by the media, but there still may be something there.
Calgary Flames: Sam Bennett
Bennett has popped up in the rumor mill recently, although he has not requested a trade. The Flames are likely listening on him, but a move being made seems unlikely at this point. The return would have to be astronomical to pry the former top-five pick from Brad Treliving. It is possible though. Elliott Friedman mentioned the Ducks as a destination.
Carolina Hurricanes: Eddie Lack
Eddie Lack was not a favorite of head coach Bill Peters last season and likely will not be returning to the NHL roster next year. Scott Darling is the main man in Carolina now, and due to seniority and partially play, Cam Ward is slated to be the backup. Lack can still be a solid backup in the league, but things just have not worked out in Carolina. I wonder if Edmonton would take a crack with him behind Cam Talbot.
Chicago Blackhawks: Niklas Hjalmarsson
Although the initial consensus was that Brent Seabrook may be moved out, Blackhawks beat writer Mark Lazarus clarified and stated that Hjalmarsson was much more likely. The Swede has quietly transformed into an amazing defensemen in Chicago, but he has been overshadowed by the likes of Duncan Keith and the aforementioned Seabrook. Whichever team lands him will be very lucky. The same teams interested in Vatanen will probably be in on Hjalmarsson, although they are opposite hands.
Colorado Avalanche: Matt Duchene
This is a biggie. Duchene was rumored to be on the move at this year’s trade deadline and the rumblings have only gotten bigger since. Bob McKenzie even proclaimed that he was the most likely player to be moved this offseason. Duchene will fetch a quality, young defenseman plus a first round pick at minimum. Joe Sakic cannot afford to take anything less for his superstar (although struggling) center.
Columbus Blue Jackets: David Clarkson
Clarkson is only included on this list because a trade involving him going to Vegas is essentially guaranteed to happen. In return for Vegas selecting Clarkson in the draft, the Blue Jackets will be sending at least a first round pick plus a prospect to Vegas. I suspect that prospect will be Oliver Bjorkstrand. The initial Clarkson report came from Elliott Friedman.
Dallas Stars: Stephen Johns
Jim Nill’s most prized asset this summer is his third overall pick. He will use that to either move down in the draft and get a defenseman or trade it for an NHL ready defenseman. Other than that, it’s hard to see Dallas moving anyone out. In terms o players they might lose in the expansion draft, Stephen Johns and Jamie Oleksiak head the list. So one of them could theoretically be moved beforehand.
Detroit Red Wings: Riley Sheahan
Although he did score a goal (actually, two goals) in the final game of the season, it is unclear what Sheahan’s future in Detroit is. Detroit has a number of other young players to protect, so Sheahan has a good chance of winding up in Vegas next season. Trading him beforehand may land Ken Holland a pick or two instead of losing him for naught.
Edmonton Oilers: Jordan Eberle
With three dynamic presences that can play center, Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the Oilers can afford to sacrifice a few wingers. Eberle carries a large cap hit ($6 million) and the money could be used to solidify the back-end for Edmonton or just to keep handy. Eberle has reportedly been of high interest, so it appears his days in Edmonton are finished. John Shannon of Sportsnet is reporting that as many as six teams are highly interested.
Florida Panthers: Alex Petrovic
When the Panthers asked Keith Yandle to waive his no-movement clause (reported by Elliott Friedman), it could have been so they could keep Alex Petrovic instead. The big, bruising, and rising defender has proved his worth in Florida. He would be a nice pickup for Vegas if they choose to go that route. However, if Florida did look at trading him, the return may not be worthwhile and they may just take the risk of losing him for nothing instead.
Los Angeles Kings: Brayden McNabb
With Doughty, Martinez, and Muzzin on the point, it is hard to see where McNabb fits in in Los Angeles’ protection plans. The defender has shined brightly since being acquired from Buffalo. At 26-years-old, plenty of teams would be interested. However, to be fair, the Kings could wind up holding onto McNabb by protecting four forwards and four defensemen.
Minnesota Wild: Matt Dumba
The Wild are one of those teams with a glut of talent that could be taken by Vegas in a week. They have too many forwards to not use the 7-3-1 protection method. Furthermore, Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon have priority on defense. It also appears that Chuck Fletcher has chosen Jonas Brodin over Matt Dumba, so Dumba is likely to be moved. He will fetch a nice return, but the player will (ideally) need to be expansion exempt or it will need to be for picks.
Montreal Canadiens: Alex Galchenyuk
This one has picked up a lot of teams in the past 24 hours. It seems extremely likely that Galchenyuk, who is not viewed as a center in Montreal’s eyes, will be moved. Nathan Beaulieu is equally as likely to go.
Nashville Predators: James Neal
Recently, Pierre Lebrun speculated that James Neal may be left exposed for the expansion draft. If that is true, he becomes a prime target to be taken and flipped by Vegas. David Poile, if he plans on exposing Neal, should jump on the opportunity to trade Neal to the East. It is not an ideal situation, but Nashville’s stellar defensive core has caused this.
New Jersey Devils: Jacob Josefson
Honestly, there are not really any rumblings coming from the Devils. Josefson could look to obtain a larger role in another organization. Other than that, the Devils’ biggest piece to move is the #1 overall pick. They would be using it to move down, but it is intriguing nonetheless.
New York Islanders: Calvin de Haan
The Islanders are looking to move out a defenseman for a top-six forward, and currently it is a coin-flip between Calvin de Haan and Travis Hamonic. Based on the fact that de Haan is younger and that Garth Snow declined a trade that would have sent Hamonic to Edmonton last offseason for Taylor Hall, it seems more likely that de Haan is moved out.
New York Rangers: Antti Raanta
Since coming over from Chicago, Antti Raanta has been nothing short of spectacular behind Henrik Lundqvist. Due to this, he may be selected by Vegas to be their 1A goalie for the upcoming season (or to get flipped). NBC’s Pro Hockey Talk reported that the Flames and Jets have contacted the Rangers about Raanta. The Rangers could definitely get a package similar to what they got for Cam Talbot, a couple of mid-round picks, back for him.
Ottawa Senators: Dion Phaneuf
The Dion Phaneuf saga over the past few days has been interesting to watch. Bob McKenzie reported that Phaneuf declined to waive his no-movement clause before the expansion draft. Then, today, Darren Dreger furthered that by stating that a few teams had interest in trading for Phaneuf. It is an unfortunate situation for an oft-criticized player who seemed to find a home in Ottawa. Dreger also speculated that Ottawa would be taking a contract back in the deal.
Philadelphia Flyers: Nick Cousins
The Flyers are definitely going to be picking at #2 this season, so the attention turns to the immediate roster at hand. Ron Hextall would like to see internal growth and is not likely to be moving out any core players, but a few depth guys could be shuffled. Nick Cousins is a young center who could use a larger role somewhere else. With Giroux, Filppula, Konecny, and one of Patrick of Hischier on the roster, Cousins will not be getting a fair shake in his natural position in Philadelphia.
Pittsburgh Penguins: Marc-Andre Fleury
Coming off back-to-back Stanley Cups, the Penguins are not going to want to change up much. Expect them to remain similar, however Fleury will be off the roster. It seems more likely at this point that he will wind up in Vegas, but a trade beforehand by Pittsburgh is not out of the question.
San Jose Sharks: Mirco Mueller
Mueller was a top pick for the Sharks back in 2013, but he has had a troubling NHL career since. To this date, he has only appeared in 54 career games. A change of scenery would benefit both parties.
St. Louis Blues: Jori Lehtera
After an impressive first season with St. Louis, Lehtera has fallen off a cliff as of late. With a large cap hit, it would be wise for Doug Armstrong to look for a suitor for the Finland native. It may be a fruitless effort, though.
Tampa Bay Lightning: Alex Killorn
Tampa Bay needs to choose between Alex Killorn and Vlad Namestnikov before the expansion draft takes place. Due to age, Namestnikov seems more likely, but it could go either way. Killorn is on a new, long-term deal and would be a viable option in almost all middle-sixes in the league.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Connor Brown
Although a home-grown talent, the Leafs may look to move on from Connor Brown. This deal only happens if they get a top-four defender in return, though. Elliott Friedman brought up a good point in one of his 30 Thoughts: Brown was drafted by Dave Nonis when he was general manager of the Leafs. Nonis now has a front office role in Anaheim. There could be a perfect fit.
Vancouver Canucks: Chris Tanev
Tanev’s name has surfaced in trade rumors for quite some time now. He is a dynamic defenseman on a solid contract, so the price is rightfully high. It is plausible that Jim Benning is shopping Tanev, however it will take a deal to believe it.
Washington Capitals: Nate Schmidt
With a few prominent defensemen to protect, the Capitals cannot afford to hold onto Nate Schmidt ahead of the expansion draft. His speed and offensive talents should make him coveted around the league. He may even be immediately ready to step into a top-four role on another team. His situation, although not cap related, reminds me a lot of when Nick Leddy went from Chicago to New York a few years ago.
Winnipeg Jets: Connor Hellebuyck
The Jets are trying to acquire a bonafide starting goalie, so I am curious as to whether or not they will move Hellebuyck. This one is pure speculation. If they can acquire another goalie, using Hellebuyck to improve another part of their team would be smart.
Stay tuned for more news and analysis on our Twitter feed.
The Winnipeg Jets are in a fairly good spot in regards to the expansion draft. They are only slated to lose a depth player or (spoiler) an injury-ridden Tyler Myers to Vegas.
Up front, the Jets will absolutely be protecting Mark Scheifele, Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler, and Mathieu Perreault.
After that, a trio of middle-six, younger players are expected to be protected. They are Adam Lowry, Marko Dano, and Joel Armia.
That is all there is for forwards. The most likely to be taken by Vegas out of the exposed forwards are Andrew Copp and Scott Komaschuk. Although valuable pieces, losing either of these players would not be crushing to the Jets.
On defense, the Jets have two players with no-movement clauses in Dustin Byfuglien and Tobias Enstrom. The Jets are not expected to ask either to waive.
The choice then becomes between Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers. Myers, as previously mentioned, has struggled with injuries in the past few years and also has been the inferior player to Trouba. So, choosing Trouba to protect is easy.
The Jets gave up a lot in the Tyler Myers-Evander Kane deal a few years ago, but if Vegas decides to take Myers, it is not the end of the world. The defenseman they sent to Buffalo in that deal, Zach Bogosian, is struggling more than Myers is.
In goal, Connor Hellebuyck is currently projected to be protected. However, the Jets could acquire a goalie, such as Marc-Andre Fleury or Antti Raanta, to protect instead.
The Winnipeg Jets protected list could look like this in the end:
Forwards: Mark Scheifele, Bryan Little, Blake Wheeler, Mathieu Perreault, Adam Lowry, Marko Dano, Joel Armia
Defense: Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Jacob Trouba
Goalie: Connor Hellebuyck OR acquired player
Thank you all for following along with the “Predicting Protected Lists” series. It will be interesting to see how close this is to the actual protected list submitted by the teams. All previous teams can be found on the site. A link to a “moment” on Twitter with all the articles will also be posted.
Stay tuned for more articles in the next week.
Due to the fact that they have a large number of unrestricted free agents on the team, the Washington Capitals do not face many problems heading into the expansion draft. However, one place they where do have to make a quick decision is in goal.
At forward, six of the seven spots are essentially locked in.
Alex Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson, and Andre Burakovsky will all be protected.
After that bunch, the last spot comes down to three players, those being Jay Beagle, Brett Connolly, and Lars Eller.
In terms of age and production, the trio looks like this —
Beagle: 31-years-old, 31 points in 81 games
Connolly: 25-years-old, 23 points in 66 games
Eller: 28-years-old, 25 points in 81 games
Beagle’s numbers look more impressive, however, based solely on deployment and how much they forked over for him last offseason, the Capitals are likely to protect Lars Eller.
On defense, John Carlson and Matt Niskanen are going to be protected.
Albeit rumors have been swirling recently about a jump to the KHL, the Capitals are likely to protect Dmitry Orlov on defense as well. A case could be made for Nate Schmidt over Orlov, but head coach Barry Trotz clearly prefers the Russian.
Braden Holtby will be protected in goal. This leaves Philipp Grubauer to be taken by Vegas. The Golden Knights are looking to be young in net, and Grubauer possesses the ability to transform into a number one goalie. Grubauer has the chance to be the man in Vegas, which is an opportunity he will never get in Washington.
In total, the Washington Capitals probable protection list looks as so:
Forwards: Alex Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson, Andre Burakovsky, Lars Eller
Defense: John Carlson, Matt Niskanen, Dmitry Orlov
Goalie: Braden Holtby
Unless they trade him in the upcoming days, the aforementioned Grubauer is likely to go to Vegas in the expansion draft.
Next team: Winnipeg Jets
The Vancouver Canucks’ protected list is, on the surface, seemingly easy to protect. However, GM Jim Benning could go off the board and protect one or two role players over a more skilled guy.
Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, and Loui Eriksson all have no-movement clauses. Eriksson was disappointing in his first season in Vancouver, however there is zero chance he is asked to waive.
Brandon Sutter, a key cog in Vancouver’s center core, also requires protection. That is not an issue either.
The rest of Vancouver’s forward slots can be filled up by younger players.
Bo Horvat is a guarantee. For the last two spots, Markus Granlund and Sven Baertschi are good guesses.
On defense, Chris Tanev is the only sure-fire pick to be protected.
The Canucks, though, do not have many other quality defensemen that could be selected by Vegas. Therefore, protecting Alex Edler and Erik Gudbranson is not an issue.
In net, Jacob Markstrom will be protected as Ryan Miller is an unrestricted free agent.
In total, Vancouver’s protection list is likely this:
Forwards: Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Loui Eriksson, Brandon Sutter, Bo Horvat, Markus Granlund, Sven Baertschi
Defense: Chris Tanev, Alex Edler, Erik Gudbranson
Goalie: Jacob Markstrom
For players that could be taken by Vegas, fringe-NHL guys such as Reid Boucher, Brendan Gaunce, Andrew Pedan, and Michael Chaput are options.
There is also a chance that Chris Tanev is traded this offseason. But, it remains likely that the trade happens (if it happens at all) after the expansion draft.
Next team: Washington Capitals
Due to many of their young superstars, including Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander, being exempt, the Maple Leafs are in a fantastic spot heading into the expansion draft. They are not slated to lose anyone of significance, and they could even use this opportunity to trade for a top-four defenseman from another team that would have otherwise been exposed.
At forward, Nazem Kadri, James van Riemsdyk, and Connor Brown are locks to be protected. Due to the nature of their roster, Tyler Bozak and Leo Komarov can go on that list as well.
That leaves two spots remaining with Brendan Leipsic, Matt Martin, Kerby Rychel, Josh Leivo, and Seth Griffith to choose from.
Matt Martin is a great role player and mentor to the youth on Toronto’s roster, however it would be wise for the Leafs to leave him exposed.
Furthermore, Josh Leivo and Seth Griffith are solid depth scorers, but they are nothing Toronto should be sweating over.
That leaves the two spots to go to Brendan Leipsic and Kerby Rychel. Both have the potential to become top-nine players on Toronto’s roster in the future.
Martin, Leivo, and Griffith all could wind up in Vegas. The latter two are more likely.
On defense, Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner, and Connor Carrick will most likely be getting the protection spots.
Of the exposed defensemen, Martin Marincin has the highest chance of winding up in Vegas.
In goal, Freddie Andersen is undoubtedly the guy to protect.
In total, the Toronto Maple Leafs could have a protection list that looks like this:
Forwards: Nazem Kadri, James van Riemsdyk, Connor Brown, Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov, Brendan Leipsic, Kerby Rychel
Defense: Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner, Connor Carrick
Goalie: Freddie Andersen
Next team: Vancouver Canucks
The Tampa Bay Lightning will have to make a fairly large decision up front before the expansion draft, however Steve Yzerman’s situation is not as dire as it is made out to be.
According to a report, Ryan Callahan is not expected to be asked to waive his no-movement clause. That makes him an obvious shoe-in to be protected.
Other guarantees to be protected at forward are Steven Stamkos, Ondrej Palat, Nikita Kucherov, and Tyler Johnson.
There have been rumblings that Jonathan Drouin could be traded before the expansion draft. However, nothing has surfaced yet and he will be on Tampa Bay’s protection list as of now.
That leaves one spot remaining and it could go to either Vlad Namestnikov or Alex Killorn.
Namestnikov, 24, had 28 points in 74 games last season. He was a first round pick by Tampa Bay in 2011.
As for Killorn, the 27-year-old had 36 points in 81 games last season.
This choice is a coin flip to some people, however I believe that Alex Killorn will be the last protected forward for Tampa Bay.
Regardless of who is protected, though, the other player immediately becomes a top candidate to go to Vegas for next season.
On defense, Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman are guarantees to be protected.
After that, Slater Koekkoek is next in line. Although he is not as experienced as other options, he holds the potential to become a solid, top-four defender in the league. He is actually closer to that role than some people may think.
The Tampa Bay Lightning’s protection list could look like this:
Forwards: Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Nikita Kucherov, Jonathan Drouin, Alex Killorn
Defense: Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman, Slater Koekkoek
Goalie: Andrei Vasilevskiy
The Lightnig’s list could change based solely on the fact that Drouin or Johnson could be moved in a trade. But as of now, this is where it stands.
Next team: Toronto Maple Leafs
The St. Louis Blues are a pretty simple team when it comes to the expansion draft. They will have no problems reaching the exposure requirements, and the players they will protect are, for the most part, easy to predict.
Up front, Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexander Steen, and Jaden Schwartz will absolutely be protected. These three drive the offense for St. Louis and Doug Armstrong would be out of his mind to let any of them go.
After them, Paul Stastny, Patrick Berglund, and Vlad Sobotka are next in line.
Sobotka came back to the NHL for the playoffs and signed a three-year “extension” with St. Louis. He made an immediate impact on the team and will take up a top-nine role next season.
Stastny and Berglund are two guys that struggled in 2015-2016 but bounced back this season. Stastny has had injury issues, but St. Louis should protect him regardless.
The last protection spot at forward can go to David Perron. It could be argued that Jori Lehtera or Nail Yakupov could get it, but Perron is simply better and more valuable.
On defense, it is basically a lock that Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, and Joel Edmundson will be protected.
In net, the Blues committed long term to Jake Allen and he will be protected.
The St. Louis Blues probable protection list:
Forwards: Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexander Steen, Jaden Schwartz, Paul Stastny, Patrik Berglund, Vlad Sobotka, David Perrson
Defense: Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Joel Edmundson
Goalie: Jake Allen
Vegas could take Yakupov, Jaskin, or another depth forward from the Blues.
Next team: Tampa Bay Lightning
Due to Joe Thornton and Patrick Marceau being unrestricted free agents this offseason, the Sharks would appear to be set up in a comfortable position regarding the expansion draft. However, due to exposure requirements, the situation is much more complicated than how it looks.
The Sharks have five players they must protect. Three are forwards and two are defensemen. The forwards are Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, and Tomas Hertl, and the defensemen are Brent Burns and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
This leaves the Sharks with room to protect either four more forwards and one more defenseman or one more forward and two more defensemen.
Each team for the expansion draft is required to expose two forwards and one defenseman that meets a minimum games played and contract requirement. Out of the remaining players for the Sharks at forward, four players, Joel Ward, Mikkel Boedker, Jannik Hansen, and Melker Karlsson, meet that requirement.
Therefore, should the Sharks protect seven forwards, they would have to leave two of the aforementioned players exposed.
For instance, say they leave Hansen and Ward exposed out of that group. That would leave their protection list looking like Couture, Pavelski, Hertl, Boedker, Karlsson, Tierney (RFA), and who? The remaining options are essentially Barclay Goodrow, a restricted free agent, and a bunch of unrestricted free agents.
To be fair, the Sharks could sign Michael Haley and use him to fulfill exposure requirements. But, if they were going to do that, you would think that they would have signed him already.
So that makes me hypothesize: the Sharks might protect four defensemen instead if this is the case and risk losing one of Karlsson, Boedker, or Tierney.
Instead of protecting a meaningless depth player, they can then protect Justin Braun AND Brendan Dillon along with Vlasic and Burns.
This way may seem a bit unconventional, but it makes sense for the Sharks.
In total, I predict the San Jose Sharks protection list will look like the following:
Forwards: Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, Tomas Hertl, and ONE OF Boedker/Tierney/Karlsson
Defense: Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun, and Brendan Dillon
Goalie: Martin Jones
To be fair, the Sharks could bribe Vegas not to take one of their important players. Regardless, it will be interesting to see the route that Doug Wilson takes.
Next team: St. Louis Blues
The Pittsburgh Penguins, as everyone knows by now, have a huge decision to make in goal before the expansion draft. Marc-Andre Fleury has a no-movement clause and needs to be traded beforehand. Matt Murray is the future in the crease of Pittsburgh and that is not expected to change.
We will get to goalies later, so starting up front, three Penguins have no-movement clauses. They are Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Phil Kessel. None of these are a problem, though, as none were going to be exposed anyways.
The Penguins are highly likely to protect seven forwards and three defensemen, so that makes Patric Hornqvist and Bryan Rust obvious selections.
After those five players, though, the field is mixed and the players getting the last two spots are unclear.
Carl Hagelin, granted, seems like a safe bet. This is based only on the ideology that there are not many other players that could be protected.
Unless the Penguins sign Chris Kunitz or Matt Cullen to an extension, both Tom Kuhnhackl and Scott Wilson will need to be exposed to meet the requirement.
Nick Bonino is left off of this list because he is an unrestricted free agent as well. If he is re-signed before the expansion draft, which rightfully seems improbable, he will be protected.
The last spot could perhaps go to Josh Archibald or Oskar Sundqvist. Neither are ideal options, but it is the only choice Jim Rutherford has.
On defense, Kris Letang is the only sure-fire pick. However, it appears that the Penguins will want to protect Brian Dumoulin and Justin Schultz as well.
Both Dumoulin and Schultz are pending restricted free agents. Although they play different styles, both players have been integral to Pittsburgh’s success this season and last.
This scenario would leave Olli Maatta exposed. The first round pick from 2012 is not a bad player, however he has not progressed as well as the Penguins would have hoped. His skating is the most glaring issue in his game.
As for goaltenders, the expectation is that Marc-Andre Fleury and his no-movement clause will be traded. This would allow for Matt Murray to be protected.
Even if Fleury is not immediately traded, he will likely waive his no-movement clause for the team. He has been nothing but supportive over the past two years with him and Murray battling for the crease and he has been a team first guy for the Penguins for the entirety of his career. It will hurt the organization and fans to see Fleury go, but it is just what has to happen.
In total, the Penguins protected list could look like this:
Forwards: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, Bryan Rust, Carl Hagelin, and Josh Archibald OR Oskar Sundqvist
Defense: Kris Letang, Brian Dumoulin, and Justin Schultz
Goalie: Matt Murray
Olli Maatta seems like the most likely to go to Vegas in this case. If Maatta is protected, it becomes Schultz or Dumoulin.
Next team: San Jose Sharks
The Flyers have one or two forwards too many heading into the expansion draft, but other than that, they face no real challenges. Nine out of the ten skaters spots are easy to predict for Philadelphia.
For forwards, Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Brayden Schenn, Wayne Simmonds, Valtteri Filppula, and Sean Couturier will 100% be protected. After that, the last spot comes down to Jordan Weal, Michael Raffl, and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare.
Weal was acquired a few seasons ago by the Flyers in the Vincent Lecavalier trade with Los Angeles. He has shown flashes of brilliance offensively and his numbers have been outstanding. Last season, he posted 12 points in 23 NHL games and 47 points in 43 AHL games.
If the Flyers feel confident that they can sign Weal to an extension prior to or after the expansion draft, they will most likely be protecting him. But, that means that Weal has to make the team next year and make an impact. It would be a high-risk, high-reward selection.
Raffl, 28, and Bellemare, 32, both did not post great numbers for the Flyers last season, but both are valuable in their own right to the team.
Jordan Weal still seems like the most likely option, though.
On defense, Shayne Gostisbehere and Radko Gudas are locks to be protected.
With many of their other core defensemen heading into next season, like Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim, being exempt, the Flyers do not really have much of a choice for their last defensive spot. It will be going to Brandon Manning, as Andrew MacDonald will be used to fulfill the exposure requirement.
In goal, the decision is tricky. Michal Neuvirth and Anthony Stolarz, albeit under different circumstances, are both worthy of protection.
However, with all things considered, I believe the Flyers will go with Neuvirth as their protection pick. He is slated to be their starter next season, or at least their 1A, and losing him and Steve Mason in one offseason would be crippling.
In total, the Philadelphia Flyers could have a protection list that looks like this:
Forwards: Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Valtteri Filppula, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Jordan Weal
Defense: Shayne Gostisbehere, Radko Gudas, Brandon Manning
Goalie: Michal Neuvirth
A forward, whether it be Weal, Raffl, Bellemare, Cousins, or Laughton, is probable to go to Vegas.
Next team: Pittsburgh Penguins
Between Bobby Ryan and Dion Phaneuf, the Ottawa Senators have a lot of important choices to make before the expansion draft. Currently they are at risk of losing a top-four defender, but that could change depending on how the next couple of weeks shake out.
Up front, the Senators have four players that they will definitely be protecting. They are Kyle Turris, Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, and Derrick Brassard.
After a strong playoff performance, Jean-Gabriel Pageau also seems like a safe bet to be protected.
Clarke MacArthur should get a spot as well. After being sidelined for almost two full seasons with concussions, MacArthur came back for the playoffs and impressed. He does not meet the exposure requirements regardless.
The last spot comes down to two players, Bobby Ryan and Zack Smith.
Ryan carries a large cap hit at $7.25 million for the next five seasons. After a very disappointing regular season, it seemed like Ryan would be left exposed to Vegas. However, after a strong playoff performance, Ryan could be back on the protection list.
As for Smith, he has four years left on his deal at $3.25 million per. Smith is a versatile forward who can play multiple positions and can play in all situations as well. Just a year ago, he scored 25 goals.
It is still unclear who the Senators will pick to protect with their last spot. Either way it goes, Ryan or Smith, it would not be surprising.
As for defense, Erik Karlsson is obviously going to be protected.
The Senators will also not want to lose any of Dion Phaneuf, Marc Methot, or Cody Ceci, but one of them will need to be exposed. If I had to guess, I would say it will be Ceci.
The Ottawa Senators protection list could look like the following:
Forwards: Mike Hoffman, Kyle Turris, Mark Stone, Derrick Brassard, Clarke MacArthur, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Bobby Ryan OR Zack Smith
Defense: Erik Karlsson, Marc Methot, Dion Phaneuf
Goalie: Craig Anderson
Prime candidates that could be going to Vegas are Cody Ceci (or whoever is exposed of Ceci, Phaneuf, and Methot) and Ryan Dzingel.
Next team: Philadelphia Flyers