Seattle expansion draft: Predicting Pacific Division protected lists
With the Seattle expansion draft one month away, theScore is predicting every team's protected list and putting one club from each division under the microscope. This edition offers potential lists for the Pacific Division. (We'll project a full 30-player roster for the Kraken closer to the July 21 draft.)
The 2021 expansion draft will follow the same rules as the 2017 version that welcomed the Vegas Golden Knights to the NHL:
- Each team must submit a protected list of seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie OR eight skaters and one goalie
- Any player with a no-movement clause must be protected unless the player waives it
- Each team must expose two forwards, one defenseman, and one goalie who are under contract and played at least 40 games this past season or 70 combined games over the last two seasons
- All first- and second-year players, as well as unsigned draft picks, are exempt from selection
- Any player with a career-ending injury is exempt from selection
- Teams must submit their protected lists to the league by July 17
The Golden Knights are exempt from this process, and the Coyotes - who'll be moving to the Central Division next season to accommodate Seattle's arrival - are included here since Arizona is in the Pacific at the moment.
Note: Our lists of exposed players and exemptions include only the most notable names rather than every player who would fit each category. Teams are also unlikely to protect pending unrestricted free agents, as Seattle will probably not risk selecting a player it can't retain.
(Salary cap and contract source: CapFriendly)
* indicates no-movement clause
Oh, to be inside Brad Treliving's head right now ...
The longtime Calgary general manager will presumably make changes to the core of his roster this offseason after the Flames failed to make the playoffs for the second time in four years. It's now been 17 years since the franchise played past the second round.
Calgary's situation smells of a pre-expansion-draft trade. Perhaps one or both of Sean Monahan and Johnny Gaudreau are shipped out. Maybe somebody on the back end, or a promising prospect or two, is swapped.
It's impossible to predict moves and the timing, so let's work with firmer details: One, veteran forward Milan Lucic has agreed to waive his no-movement clause; two, there's a strong possibility the Flames opt for the 11-player protected list of seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie.
Here's Calgary's projected list under a 7-3-1 scheme:
Exposed players: F Milan Lucic, F Dominik Simon, D Mark Giordano, D Oliver Kylington, G Tyler Parsons
Exemptions: F Jakob Pelletier, F Mathias Emilio Pettersen, F Adam Ruzicka, F Connor Zary, D Juuso Valimaki, G Dustin Wolf
UFAs: F Josh Leivo, F Brett Ritchie, F Derek Ryan, D Nikita Nesterov, D Alex Petrovic, D Michael Stone, G Louis Dominque
At first glance, it seems borderline crazy to expose Giordano. He's a recent Norris Trophy winner, Calgary's captain, and a well-respected player and person. However, Giordano is entering the final year of his deal and, at 37 years old, is no longer a Norris-caliber defenseman. If Treliving protects Giordano, the GM will expose either Andersson, Hanifin, or Tanev. All three are younger, cheaper, and more linked to the Flames' future than Giordano.
Seattle's perspective on the Flames is the most fascinating part of the equation. The Kraken may very well prefer Giordano over Kylington, a 2015 second-rounder who wouldn't be fun to expose either, since Giordano could be the face of the franchise on Day 1. Yet, if Seattle is approaching the draft through a long-term lens - which seems like the cleverer path - then Kylington is the obvious pick. That said, there's a slight chance the 23-year-old Parsons is tapped by Seattle - though the former top goalie prospect has some baggage, having appeared in only one AHL game last year due to injury.
Exposed players: F Nicolas Deslauriers, F Derek Grant, F Danton Heinen, F Adam Henrique, F Sonny Milano, F Jakob Silfverberg, F Sam Steel, F Alexander Volkov, D Jacob Larsson, D Josh Mahura, D Kevin Shattenkirk, G Anthony Stolarz
Exemptions: F Trevor Zegras, F Max Comtois, F Benoit-Olivier Groulx, F Jacob Perreault, F Brayden Tracey, F Jacob Perreault, D Jamie Drysdale
UFAs: F David Backes, F Ryan Getzlaf, F Carter Rowney, G Ryan Miller
The Ducks should go the eight-skaters, one-goalie route considering how much they reportedly value Fleury. They'd risk losing Silfverberg and Steel, but the latter hasn't developed as expected, and the Kraken likely won't take the former or Henrique given their respective age and contract. Fowler and Lindholm also have hefty deals, but defensemen are generally more coveted than forwards. Anaheim should protect its best and most promising rearguards, even if some of their deals expire relatively soon. Miller is retiring and Backes may follow suit. As for the captain, Getzlaf, his future is also up in the air, but it's unlikely Seattle selects him when he could sign elsewhere or call it a career.
Exposed players: F Christian Fischer, F John Hayden, F John Larsson, D Ilya Lyubushkin, G Adin Hill, G Antti Raanta
Exemptions: F Barrett Hayton, F Jan Jenik, F Liam Kirk, D Victor Soderstrom
UFAs: F Derick Brassard, F Michael Bunting, D Jason Demers, D Alex Goligoski, D Niklas Hjalmarsson, D Jordan Oesterle
Kessel and Ekman-Larsson both have no-movement clauses so they must be protected. The captain Ekman-Larsson is reportedly on the trade market again, but he'll be on the Coyotes' list unless a deal materializes before the expansion draft. Leaving Bunting exposed would be a mild risk given how well he played in a small sample size in 2020-21. That said, Seattle probably won't take a chance on a pending UFA. Fischer's stock has plummeted, so it wouldn't be shocking to see Arizona leave him exposed. Meanwhile, Pitlick gets the nod over Larsson here since he carved out a larger role this season.
Exposed players: F Dominik Kahun, F Zack Kassian, F Jujhar Khaira, F James Neal, F Devin Shore, F Kyle Turris, D Caleb Jones, D Oscar Klefbom, D Kris Russell, G Mikko Koskinen, G Alex Stalock
Exemptions: F Dylan Holloway, F Raphael Lavoie, F Ryan McLeod, D Filip Berglund, D Evan Bouchard, D Philip Broberg, G Olivier Rodrigue
UFAs: F Alex Chiasson, F Tyler Ennis, F Patrick Russell, D Tyson Barrie, D Slater Koekkoek, D Dmitry Kulikov
Nugent-Hopkins, Larsson, and Smith are all pending UFAs, however, the Oilers are aiming to re-sign all three and we expect them to do so. Edmonton reportedly plans to go the 11-player route (seven forwards, three defensemen, one goalie) unless it re-ups Larsson and Barrie before the expansion draft - which is unlikely. Klefbom probably won't regain his old form when he returns from injury, so there's little chance the Oilers will regret leaving him exposed. Up front, Benson has the highest ceiling among the bubble guys. All in all, Edmonton has a slew of pending free agents, so while the plan could certainly change, this is both the most logical path and how we see it playing out.
Los Angeles Kings
Exposed players: F Lias Andersson, F Andreas Athanasiou, F Dustin Brown, F Carl Grundstrom, F Brendan Lemieux, F Blake Lizotte, D Olli Maatta, D Kurtis MacDermid, G Jonathan Quick
Exemptions: F Jaret Anderson-Dolan, F Quinton Byfield, F Arthur Kaliyev, F Rasmus Kupari, F Akil Thomas, F Alex Turcotte, F Gabriel Vilardi, D Michael Anderson, D Tobias Bjornfot, D Sean Durzi
UFAs: None of note
The Kings have a dilemma involving two 2016 draft picks: Do they go 4-4-1 to protect Clague or 7-3-1 to secure Grundstrom and an additional two forwards? While they have some defensive depth with the three others being protected here, Clague is still a very valuable piece as an up-and-coming blue-liner. Grundstrom's skills are more replaceable and forwards are easier to part with, especially with Byfield, Turcotte, and Kaliyev on the way. Exposing Brown isn't too risky considering his $5.875-million AAV and the fact he's turning 37 in November. The same can be said for 35-year-old Quick, whose game has fallen off with two more seasons remaining on his 10-year deal.
San Jose Sharks
Exposed players: F Ryan Donato, F Dylan Gambrell, F Matt Nieto, D Greg Pateryn, D Radim Simek, G Martin Jones
Exemptions: F Alexander Barabanov, F Joachim Blichfeld, F Alexander Chmelevski, F John Leonard, D Mario Ferraro, D Ryan Merkley
UFAs: F Kurtis Gabriel, F Patrick Marleau, F Marcus Sorensen
Karlsson and Vlasic have no-movement clauses, which means they're staying put. Right now, the Sharks don't meet the forward requirement here, but we're assuming they'll sign a forward over the next few weeks. It would make sense to ink Gambrell, then make Dahlen the seventh protected forward. The latter would be preferable to Donato, who appears unlikely to re-sign. San Jose has an interesting situation in goal. The team protected Martin Jones in 2017, but he's been one of the NHL's worst netminders in recent years. He also carries a $5.75-million cap hit and is on the wrong side of 30. Seattle probably won't take him, but it wouldn't even be catastrophic for the Sharks if the Kraken did.
Exposed players: F Jay Beagle, F Loui Eriksson, F Antoine Roussel, F Jake Virtanen, G Braden Holtby
Exemptions: F Nils Hoglander, F Vasily Podkolzin, D Jack Rathbone, D Quinn Hughes, D Nikita Tryamkin, G Michael DiPietro
UFAs: F Travis Boyd, F Tyler Graovac, F Brandon Sutter, F Jimmy Vesey, D Alexander Edler, D Travis Hamonic
Vancouver should go with the 7-3-1 scheme. Sure, the team could ultimately expose Highmore or Motte if it adds superior forwards between now and the expansion draft, but currently, protecting both would be the wisest course of action. Why? None of the five exposed players would be devastating losses, and the Canucks would absolutely love the cap relief if Beagle or Roussel get picked. It's highly unlikely Seattle will select Eriksson or Virtanen, for obvious reasons (bloated contract and legal situation, respectively), so Vancouver is much better off protecting those who are more likely to be selected.