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Predicting the Expansion Draft: St. Louis and Tampa Bay

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Tampa Bay Lightning v Pittsburgh Penguins Photo by Matt Kincaid/Getty Images

Continuing on with our never-ending series of expansion draft predictions.....

Oh wait....

Really??

Only two more posts after this??? Excuse me for a moment.

Ahem. Anyway. As I was saying, here’s the next installment of our series.

If you haven’t been following our series, each week we have two articles, with each one looking at two NHL teams and predicting whom they will protect in the NHL expansion draft.

Because we explained how free agents and exemptions are going to work in great depth in the Detroit article, scroll down to the bottom and click on the Detroit article in the story stream if you need more information on those topics.

As always, here is a link to the CapFriendly expansion draft tool. Take a quick look at the teams for today’s article before you read, if you want to see who’s exempt, etc.

Waiving NMCs

Before we start, CapFriendly confirmed this week that a player can waive his No Move Clause solely for the expansion draft. Even though we still feel that there will be very few players doing this, it means it’s more likely than if someone waiving their NMC would mean they lost it for the rest of their contract.

Without further ado, here’s what we think about St. Louis and Tampa Bay.

St. Louis Blues

SB Nation: St. Louis Game Time

Daily Faceoff Current Lines: Here

Predicted Protection Option: 7 Skaters, 3 defensemen, and 1 Goalie

Goalie

I’m going go with a reverse order for St. Louis because I want to talk about the defense before the forwards. Jake Allen has had a less-than-ideal season, to put it mildly. But, the team seems to be committed to him. Unless the team brings in another potential starting goalie, the protection spot will be his.

Defense

If a team is thinking about going the 8 skaters and 1 goalie option, it’s because their fourth defenseman they could protect is worth more than the three forwards they can’t protect. At first I thought that this was one of those cases, but I must have been confusing Carl Gunnarsson with someone else.

Alex Pietrangelo is obvious. Kevin Shattenkirk is not coming back, and will not be protected. Jay Bouwmeester pairs well with Pietrangelo, but his age and contract means that even if he were exposed, Vegas likely wouldn’t take him (depending on their other options, of course).

Colton Parayko is exempt, so they can already keep one of their young defensemen, but I think they also want to keep Joel Edmundson and Petteri Lindbohm. That fills up their three slots.

Forwards

I want to give a shout out to Laura, the site manager for St. Louis Game Time. I had some questions about the forwards, and she gave me helpful insight into their team beyond the stats.

Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexander Steen, Paul Stastny, and Jaden Schwartz are the team’s top 4 forwards in scoring this year. I’ve read some people say they should not protect Stastny because of his cap hit (7M), but he’s only under contract for another year, so I don’t that will be a consideration.

Robby Fabbri would be an obvious protect, but he is exempt. Patrik Berglund is UFA, so if they choose to extend him, they would likely use a slot on him, but we’re not counting him for now.

David Perron is our next forward to protect. He’s just behind Schwartz in scoring (although he has played in four more games). At this point, you’re starting to see why I was looking into protecting four defense at first.

Our sixth forward is Jori Lehtera, who is not having a great offensive season, but the Blues trust him enough to play with Tarasenko, so he seems to be player who will be protected.

For the last forward, we are down to Nail Yakupov and Ryan Reaves. This selection will come down to how much they believe in Yakupov. He has had some flashes of the potential that led him to be taken 1st overall in 2012. St. Louis thought he was worth a shot, trading for him in October this year.

It’s hard to cut bait on a first overall pick, and the Blues might think he will perform better under new coach Mike Yeo. It’s hard, however, to see Yakupov having too many more chances.

We are picking Yakupov for the above reasons, but it would not be surprising in the least to see the Blues protect Reaves. He’s developed into a better overall player this year, and the team may want to reward his hard work. Consider this a toss-up.

Final Protection Predictions

These choices satisfy the exposure requirements, with 1 forward, 2 defensemen, and 2 goalies to spare.

Forwards: Vladimir Tarasenko, Paul Stastny, Alex Steen, Jaden Schwartz, Jori Lehtera, David Perron, Nail Yakupov.

Defense: Alex Pietrangelo, Joel Edmundson, Petteri Lindbohm

Goalie: Jake Allen

Tampa Bay Lightning

SB Nation: Raw Charge

Daily Faceoff Current Lines: Here

Predicted Protection Option: 7 Skaters, 3 defensemen, and 1 Goalie

Forwards

Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan, and Valtteri Filppula all have no move clauses. That means they have four more forwards they can protect. We predict they will protect Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, and Jonathan Drouin.

Drouin has broken out this season, and is third on the team in scoring. Kucherov is their leading scorer. The other two have been top contributors in both the regular season and the playoffs.

I wrote at the top of this article that we don’t think many players would waive a NMC for the expansion draft. Tampa Bay might be an exception. Ryan Callahan is one of the players who might actually do this. There’s very little chance that Vegas would take Callahan, and it would allow the team to keep Vladislav Namestnikov, who would likely be one of the players Vegas selects most quickly.

If they can do this, Alex Killorn will likely be the player they lose. They won’t want to lose him, but it should hurt less than the above players.

Defense

Two of these slots are straightforward. Victor Hedman has an NMC, and Anton Stralman is a clear protect. The Lightning have veteran defensemen Jason Garrison and Braydon Coburn, but even if they are unprotected, the team can reasonably assume Vegas would take a forward. We predict the team will use the third slot on Andrej Sustr.

Lightning fans had high expectations for Slater Koekkoek entering the season, but the team has kept him in the minors for most of the season, so it’s unlikely Vegas would go for him.

Goalie

This one is pretty easy. It’s going to be Andrei Vasilevskiy. It’s no secret the team plans to move Ben Bishop one way or another. An interesting potential scenario brought up by Raw Charge writer George Fitzgerald, with whom I had a great discussion that helped with this article, would be if Vegas signs Ben Bishop during the UFA window. That would mean that the Lightning would not lose Namestnikov or Killorn, which would be a win-win for them.

Could this happen? It would be great for Tampa, so of course it’ll happen. ;)

Our protection predictions would satisfy the exposure requirement, once TB extends a qualifying offer to RFA goalie Kristers Gudlevskis.

Final Protection Predictions

Forward: Steven Stamkos (NMC), Ryan Callahan (or Vladislav Namestnikov if Callahan waives his NMC), Valtteri Filppula (NMC), Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Jonathan Drouin

Defense: Victor Hedman (NMC) , Anton Stralman, Andrej Sustr.

Goalie: Andrei Vasilevskiy.