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Predicting the Expansion Draft: Minnesota and Montreal

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Moving on with a Western Conference contender and an Atlantic Division foe.

Montreal Canadiens v Minnesota Wild Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

Exactly at the half-way point of our initial coverage, today’s focus is on the Minnesota Wild and the Montreal Canadiens. As usual, for those who wish to play along at home and check out the relevant exemptions, head to the Capfriendly Expansion Draft Tool.

Minnesota Wild

SBN Blog: Hockey Wilderness

Current Daily Faceoff Lines: Here

Projected Protection Option: 7 Forwards - 3 Defense - 1 Goalie

Forwards

Immediately addressing the No Movement Clauses, Minnesota will have to protect Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, and Jason Pominville. Eric Staal is making a great case for protection this season, with 41 points thru 48 contests, as are Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, and Nino Niederreiter. That already has us at 7 skaters, with Jason Zucker on the outside looking in.

I bring up Jason Zucker because his play so far this season has certainly warranted protection. The 25-year-old is currently slotted on the Wild’s 2nd line, at left wing, and has put up an impressive 33 points in 48 games. Currently 6th on the Wild in scoring, and ahead of currently protected Pominville and Parise, Vegas has to be drooling over the idea of Zucker being left exposed.

From Hockey Wilderness, Mntrumpterguy has an idea on how the Wild should handle the Zucker situation. We don’t really disagree with what’s laid out there, but until things change, Peter and I have Zucker as the odd man out.

Defense

Ryan Suter was given a No Movement Clause in the contract that should have brought him to the Red Wings (grumble grumble grumble), and thus will be protected. Suter’s linemate, Jared Spurgeon, is in the midst of a solid campaign that makes the idea of splitting the two up inconceivable. Matt Dumba, the 22-year-old second-pair defenseman, is also having a great year and is worthy of protection.

As with the forwards, the defense also has a question about someone left out in the cold - Jonas Brodin. The 23-year-old isn’t having a season of the same caliber as Dumba, but despite his current finger injury, he’s still having a season worthy of protection consideration. With no protection spots left, it will be interesting to see how Brodin plays when he returns from injury - depending on how he performs and where he slots into the line-up, Spurgeon or Dumba could get bumped out.

Goalie

Since coming to Minnesota, Devan Dubnyk has been nothing short of spectacular. As one of the top net-minders in the league, he has to be the one the Wild will protect. Nobody else comes close.

Complications

Currently, there are no complications to the exposure requirements with these protections. But, if the Wild don’t want to lose quality players for free, they’ll need to look at making a trade or two.

Final Protected List

Forward: Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Jason Pominville, Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, Eric Staal

Defense: Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Matt Dumba

Goalie: Devan Dubnyk

Montreal Canadiens

SBN Blog: Eyes On The Prize

Current Daily Faceoff Lines: Here

Projected Protection Option: 7 Forwards - 3 Defense - 1 Goalie

Forwards

With no NMCs in play, the Canadiens are free to protect who they feel are their 7 best forwards. However, there could be some debate as to who those seven are...

Max Pacioretty, who leads the team in points, certainly doesn’t get left exposed. Paul Byron, Alex Galchenyuk, and Phillip Danault are talented players that shouldn’t be left as options for the Golden Knights. Andrew Shaw, acquired this offseason, probably gets protection as someone who hasn’t hit their full potential within the organization.

Now comes the tricky part. With two spots left, Montreal’s best points-producers left available are Alexander Radulov and Tomas Plekanec. Despite their output, Radulov is a pending UFA and Plekanec is a 34 year old who, despite incredible endurance over his career, seems to bounce between seasons of respectability and seasons of downright dominance.

If not Radulov and Plekanec, Montreal is left protecting Brendan Gallagher and Torrey Mitchell if we look chiefly at points production (youngster Artturi Lehkonen is exempt). Gallagher and Mitchell are decent players, to be sure, but Radulov and Plekanec are head-and-shoulders above them. Our guess is that Radulov is extended and protected prior to the Expansion Draft, if he has interest in returning to the Canadiens instead of testing true free agency, and Plekanec will be protected as well.

Over at Eyes On The Prize, Marc Dumont has done a really great write-up on the Habs’ exposure options. The idea is out there that Plekanec wouldn't be protected due to his age (34) and contract terms ($6,000,000/yr cap hit), and that Brendan Gallagher would be the beneficiary of this. Seriously, there's a ton of information in this piece and you should definitely read it (when you're done here, of course).

Defense

Jeff Petry is automatically protected due to his NMC, and Shea Weber won’t be exposed after being swapped for P.K. Subban. With one spot left, Peter and I predict that Nathan Beaulieu will be protected. Andrei Markov is playing worthy of protection, but as a pending UFA at 38 years of age and considering his similar points output to Beaulieu (albeit in fewer games), it seems more important to protect Beaulieu’s future than Markov’s past.

Goalie

Carey Price. Carey Price. Carey Price. Carey Price. Carey Price. Carey Price. Carey Price. Carey Price. Carey Price. Carey Price. Carey Price. Carey Price. Carey Price. Carey Price. Carey Price. Carey Price. Carey Price. Carey Price. Carey Price. Carey Price.

Complications

Under this protection scheme, none. All requirements are met for exposure.

Final Protected List

Forward: Max Pacioretty, Alexander Radulov, Tomas Plekanec, Andrew Shaw, Alex Galchenyuk, Paul Byron, Phillip Danault

Defense: Jeff Petry, Shea Weber, Nathan Beaulieu

Goalie: Carey Price