The expansion draft is just over 20 days away, and a lot of teams still have issues with their rosters to sort out. The exposure constrictions handed out by the NHL have handicapped a number of teams, one of those being the Anaheim Ducks.
Currently, the Ducks have four players on no-movement clauses in Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler, and Kevin Bieksa. The first three are not a problem as they would have been protected regardless, however Bieksa presents a predicament.
The 35-year-old Bieksa has one more year on his deal at a $4 million cap hit. The Ducks already have a logjam of defensemen to protect and Bieksa does not help the situation in the slightest. Currently, Bieksa would be required to be protected, which would leave a very good player, whether it be Silfverberg, Manson, Vatanen, or someone else, exposed.
There are certainly loopholes around this situation, though. Bob Murray could ask Bieksa to waive his no-movement clause so he could be exposed in the draft. With Vegas looking to get younger, it is highly unlikely that they would take the struggling defenseman. Furthermore, even with conceding his no-movement clause, it is equally as unlikely that Murray would be able to find a trading partner if he wanted to for Bieksa.
There has been no official wording yet, but some believe that if a player waives his no-movement clause for the expansion draft that he will lose the clause altogether. This is not as much of a factor for Bieksa and the Ducks, but if is a big wrench that remains to be seen for other teams.
The presumption is that Kevin Bieksa will waive his no-movement clause or be bought out by the Ducks. At the end of the day, Bieksa will not be on the protected list for Anaheim when they are due to submit it.
However, with the Bieksa ordeal aside, the Ducks still face plenty of questions on the blueline.
Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, Josh Manson, and Cam Fowler are all eligible for the expansion draft. Simon Despres is another enticing name on Anaheim’s roster, but injury issues over the past few seasons have decreased his value.
The Ducks could absolutely keep all four of the young defensemen previously mentioned. But, by doing that, they would lose one of Rickard Rakell or Jakob Silfverberg up front. Both forwards had stellar years and both fit the mold of what Vegas is looking for. Losing either Rakell or Silfverberg would be a huge blow and something the Ducks would have a hard time recovering from.
With all of that being said, the Ducks trading a defenseman before the expansion draft seems almost certain. Fowler and Lindholm are staying, so it comes down to Sami Vatanen or Josh Manson. Vatanen is injured for a few months, but as a skilled and still young defenseman, he’d still be worth a lot. Manson is a player the Ducks absolutely do not want to lose, but they may be forced to trade him if no other options surface.
In the end, the protected players list for Anaheim before the upcoming expansion draft could look like this:
Forwards: Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler, Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg, Andrew Cogliano, Nick Kerdiles
Defense: Hampus Lindholm, Cam Fowler, Sami Vatanen OR Josh Manson
Goalie: John Gibson
If the Ducks do trade Vatanen or Manson, it could be for a forward to fill the last protection slot instead of Kerdiles.
The Ducks have a lot of internal questions to answer over the next three weeks. They’re one of the teams will the most variables in play heading to the expansion draft and will be an interesting team to keep an eye on.
Next team: Arizona Coyotes
The expansion draft is looming. Teams have been planning for this event below the surface for months, but now that we are within half a year of the actual event, more public moves are beginning to be made.