Canadian NHL teams won't sweat Golden Knights' expansion draft
7 franchises north of the border will have majority of key players protected
Now that Las Vegas' NHL expansion franchise has its name, management will begin to narrow its focus on the expansion draft in June.
Unlike past drafts, the Vegas Golden Knights will have the opportunity to put together a well-rounded team thanks to the league's more liberal player exposure requirements.
Here's a refresher of what each of the existing franchises will have to make available to the Golden Knights by June 17, 2017:
- One defenceman under contract through 2017-18 who has played 40 or more games the prior season or 70 or more in the prior two seasons.
- Two forwards who meet the above requirements.
- One goalie under contract through 2017-18 or one goalie who will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18 (if the latter option is chosen, that player must receive a qualifying offer prior to submission of the club's protected list).
Players with career-ending injuries who have missed more than 60 straight games cannot be used to satisfy the requirements and all first-year or second-year professionals are exempt.
Given that Las Vegas will have to select one player from each of the 30 clubs (14 forwards, nine defenceman and three goalies), each of Canada's seven franchises won't be too hard-pressed to find ways to protect their key players, of which they have two options to list protected players:
- Seven forwards, three defencemen, one goalie.
- Eight skaters, one goalie.
Sportsnet's Chris Johnston reported Wednesday which players from each team must automatically be protected based on no-movement clauses in their contracts. With these in mind, here's an early look at who each Canadian team may look to protect and who will be left exposed. (Vegas will have to play within a salary cap between 60-100% of the prior season's upper limit.)
NMC protected players: None.
Calgary doesn't have much to worry about. Its core players either fall under the exemption rules or easily fit into the protected players list. But it's early — goalie Brian Elliot hasn't looked good so far this season and that could change as it progresses. If defenceman Brett Kulak keeps it up, he may make the decision a bit more difficult down the road.
- Forwards Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Troy Brouwer, Michael Frolik, Michael Backlund, Sam Bennett, Michael Ferland
- Defencemen Dougie Hamilton, T.J. Brodie, Mark Giordano
- Goalie Chad Johnson
- Matt Stajan (F), Lance Bouma (F), Brett Kulak (D)
NMC protected players: Milan Lucic (F), Andrej Sekera (D), Cam Talbot (G)
Edmonton has the advantage of not having to worry about young second-year players like Connor McDavid or Darnell Nurse and first-year players like Jesse Puljujarvi. Despite having three automatically protected players, they have quite a bit of wiggle room.
- Forwards Milan Lucic, Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Patrick Maroon, Tyler Pitlick, Zack Kassian
- Defencemen Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson
- Goalie Cam Talbot
- Benoit Pouliot (F), Mark Letestu (F)
NMC protected players: Carey Price (G), Jeff Petry (D)
Protecting Price would have been a no-brainer anyway, so Montreal benefits from being able to focus on securing its now growing list of valuable forwards. Unfortunately, a few higher-profile options will have to fall by the wayside — under-performing Tomas Plekanec and lower priority defenceman Alexei Emelin to name a few. They will need to come up with a goalie offering as Al Montoya is currently not signed beyond this season.
- Forwards Alex Galchenyuk, Branden Gallagher, Alexander Radulov, Max Pacioretty, Paul Byron, Andrew Shaw, Phillip Danault
- Defencemen Jeff Petry, Shea Weber, Nathan Beaulieu
- Goalie Carey Price
- Tomas Plekanec (F), Jacob De la Rose (F- RFA), Alexei Emelin (D), Greg Pateryn (D)
NMC protected players: Dion Phaneuf (D)
Phaneuf wouldn't be on most people's list of protected players, but its where the Senators find themselves at the moment. They risk having to expose either Marc Methot or Cody Ceci in order to protect their young forwards. At 31 years old with a $4.9 million US cap hit, Methot would likely be left exposed over the younger, cheaper Ceci. According to Johnston, Bobby Ryan could be exposed due to the wording of his no-movement clause, which could open cap space for Ottawa.
- Forwards Kyle Turris, Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, Derick Brassard, Ryan Dzingel, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Curtis Lazar
- Defencemen Dion Phaneuf, Erik Karlsson, Cody Ceci
- Goalie Craig Anderson
- Bobby Ryan (F), Marc Methot (D)
Toronto Maple Leafs:
NMC protected players: Nathan Horton (F)
Horton will be exempt because of his career-ending injury, which means Toronto has plenty of room. Like Edmonton, their youth is working for them in this scenario. As it stands now, they won't lose much of anything but will need to pick up a few forwards who meet the requirements.
- Forwards Nazem Kadri, James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov, Matt Martin, Connor Brown
- Defencemen Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner, Connor Carrick
- Goalie Frederik Andersen
NMC protected players: Loui Eriksson (F), Daniel Sedin (F), Henrik Sedin (F)
Eriksson hasn't been working out in Vancouver so far, which could have the team regretting the no-movement clause. It will expose a few talented young forwards that the Canucks would probably rather hold on to.
- Forwards Loui Eriksson, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Brandon Sutter, Bo Horvat, Markus Granlund, Jannik Hansen
- Defencemen Alexander Edler, Christopher Tanev, Erik Gudbranson
- Goalie Jacob Markstrom
- Sven Baertschi (F), Derek Dorsett (F), Luca Sbisa (D)
NMC protected players: Dustin Byfuglien (D), Toby Enstrom (D)
With two defencemen already locked up, Winnipeg may have to opt for the eight skaters option in order to hold on to its promising blue line.
- Forwards Mark Schiefele, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, Adam Lowry
- Defencemen Dustin Byfuglien, Toby Enstrom, Tyler Myers, Jacob Trouba
- Goalie Connor Hellebuyck
- Mathieu Perreault (F), Marko Dano (F), Mark Stuart (D)