LONG POST ALERT. But this is pretty important.
There has been a lot of recent talk about the NHL expanding to new cities, most notably to Seattle, Quebec, and possibly Las Vegas. The idea of rounding out the divisions seems nice, but there is one aspect of expansion that isn't so fun. I'm referring, of course, about an Expansion Draft.
There hasn't been an NHL Expansion Draft since 2000, so some of us may have forgotten how it all works. Here's what happened then (from Wikipedia):
26 teams (The Thrashers and Predators were completely protected, due to being around only a couple of years) could protect either:
- 9 Forwards, 5 Defensmen, and 1 Goaltender; OR
- 7 Forwards, 3 Defensmen, and 2 Goaltenders
Of a team's unprotected players, there were some playing requirements:
- 2 unprotected Forwards and 1 unprotected Defensmen must have appeared in at least 40 games the previous season, or at least 70 games played over the previous 2 seasons.
- Also, IF a team is protecting 2 Goaltenders, then at least 1 of their remaining goalies must have played 10 games (at least 31 minutes) the previous season or 25 games the past two seasons. A team protecting 1 Goaltender had no play time limit for unprotected goalies.
52 players were selected, with 2 players drafted from each team. One caveat was made to help teams from getting screwed too much from the draft: Either a goaltender or defensman could be taken from a team. Not both. So the expansion teams could take either: a goaltender and a forward, a defensman and a forward, or 2 forwards.
In 2000, the Wings lost Stacy Roest and Daryl Laplante due to the Expansion Draft. This year, with a deep prospect pool, the Red Wings could be in trouble.
There are a few aspects that are left out, that are fairly important to which players are able to be picked. Are prospects protected? Is there a minimum game limit for a player in order to be drafted, or can any AHL player be taken? What about Free Agents? We can assume that the draft won't include UFAs right? Maybe, but remember that the NHL year starts on July 1. The 2000 Expansion Draft took place on June 23, before the start of the league year (to my knowledge, please correct me if I'm wrong). But what about our RFAs?? No-Move Clauses??
For the sake of this discussion, let's assume that pending UFAs and RFAs are still a part of their old team at the time of the draft, so they can be drafted. CapGeek doesn't say anything about Expansion Drafts when talking about NTCs and NMCs, so we will assume that they don't apply. Also, let's assume that players must be counting against the team's cap (basically, they have to appear here, not counting non-roster players) in order to be drafted. So basically, no one is safe unless his team protects him.
Let's assume that the Wings employ the first scenario, where 9 Forwards, 5 Defensmen, and 1 Goaltender are protected. Here's who I think should be protected in the event of an Expansion Draft during the 2014 offseason:
FORWARDS: Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Nyquist, Tatar, Jurco, Helm, Abdelkader, Weiss/Franzen, Miller
DEFENSE: Kronwall, Dekyser, Smith, Lashoff, Ericsson
So, who gets drafted? The forward that gets drafted will probably be the Franzen/Weiss player that doesn't get protected. The other? Obvious answer: PETR MRAZEK. He is a bright young goaltender that would be perfect to build a team around. We NEED to protect Petr.
So, we have to use the 2 goaltender scenario (7 Forwards, 3 Defensmen, 2 Goaltenders):
FORWARDS: Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Nyquist, Tatar, Jurco, Helm, Weiss/Franzen,
DEFENSE: Kronwall, Dekyser, Smith
GOALTENDER: Howard, Mrazek
This situation is not ideal either. While I think the Weiss/Franzen unprotected player is still taken, we now run the risk of losing Jonathan Ericsson, Drew Miller, or Justin Abdelkader. All solid contributors. If we want to protect Riggy, we could lose Brendan Smith, a player that could develop into a very solid player.
Is Mrazek worth the risk of possibly losing any one (or two) of these 4 players? Am I completely wrong about who to protect? Share your thoughts in the comments.