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Predicting the Expansion Draft: Nashville and New Jersey

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NHL: Nashville Predators at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, and welcome to another installment of expansion draft predictions. If you haven’t been following the series, twice a week Mike and I are looking at two teams and predicting what players they will protect in the upcoming 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.

Nashville Predators

SB Nation: On the Forecheck

Current Daily Faceoff Lines: Here

Predicted Protection Option: 8 Skaters and 1 Goalie.

Goalie

The only No Move Clause Nashville has on its team is goaltender Pekka Rinne, so I’m doing this backwards. They’re going to protect Pekka Rinne. (Soup Nazi voice) NEXT!

Defense

Nashville is one of the teams that you immediately think would be interested in protecting four defensemen. Let’s start with the two locks: P.K. Subban and Roman Josi. After trading Shea Weber for Subban, there is zero chance the team exposes him here, nor should they. Josi is a very solid all-around defenseman, and there is no chance they expose him either.

If the team was going to choose three defensemen, they would then have to choose between Mattias Ekholm and Ryan Ellis, and we don’t think they want to make that choice. Ekholm and Ellis have 20 and 18 points respectively, and are the same age as Josi. If either is exposed, he is likely instantly taken by Vegas.

So unless Nashville has more than four forwards that they would rather not lose than one of these defensemen, they’ll protect four D.

Forwards

The easy choices here are Filip Forsberg and Ryan Johansen. Forsberg had a terrible start to the year, but he’s started to turn it around, and he is one of the most dangerous scorers in the league when he’s on his game. Johansen leads the team in points, along with his and Forsberg’s linemate Viktor Arvidsson.

Not going to waste any time: Arvidsson is in too. All three are 24 or under with great potential, and their current top 3 scorers. Doesn’t get easier than that.

Mike Fisher is their 4th leading scorer, but he’s 36 and a UFA. If he wants to sign a deal to come back, he will. There’s a chance they extend him and protect him because he’s the captain, but I think it’s a different situation than with the Wings and Zetterberg because Henrik is much closer tied to Detroit than Fisher is to Nashville.

The people at On the Forecheck seem to think that James Neal is going to be protected. That makes sense since he is their leading goal scorer, and has a strong track record.

Other options exist at forward, but it seems unlikely that Nashville would value any of them over Arvidsson, so those are going to be our four forwards.

This protection scenario would ensure that Nashville meets the exposure requirements.

Final Protected List

Forwards: Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson, James Neal

Defense: P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm

Goalie: Pekka Rinne

New Jersey Devils

SB Nation: All About the Jersey

Current Daily Faceoff Lines: Here

Predicted Protection Option: 7 Forwards, 3 Defensemen, and 1 Goalie.

Forwards:

Ryan Clowe has a NMC, but he is exempt due to injury. Marc Savard is also exempt for obvious reasons.

Let’s get the easy ones out of the way.

Taylor Hall needs to be protected, since if you can hold onto a forward that’s as good as Adam Larsson, you need to do that with both hands.

His linemates Mike Cammalleri and Travis Zajac are also going to be protected as things stand now.

New Jersey does not have the strong top-four defense than Nashville does, so they still need four more forwards to protect.

Kyle Palmieri is the team’s second leading scorer, so it seems unlikely they would not protect him.

P.A. Parenteau is a UFA, and there doesn’t seem to be much point in spending a spot on him.

Assuming they still need to protect three more forwards (as opposed to protecting an extra defenseman), our predictions are Adam Henrique, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Jacob Josefson.

The Devils seem to be high on Josefson for the future and Henrique is 5th in scoring this year. The Smith-Pelly call is pretty close to a guess. From reading articles about the team, it doesn’t seem like there are young exposable forwards that the Devils would protect over him, so it’s pretty much a default pic.

If the team extends Parenteau, he would take that last slot. Could also be Beau Bennett, but he hasn’t been terribly impressive.

Defense

Andy Greene and Damon Severson are going to be protected. Greene is injured now, but they are a strong pairing, and Severson has been producing at a solid rate (22 points in 51 games).

After that is where the team is going to have to face a choice. From reading about the Devils this year, this choice will come down to John Moore and Ben Lovejoy.

Here is what John Fischer from All About the Jersey says:

As for the rest, no one really jumps out at me as someone that needs to be protected. I don’t have a favorable opinion of either of them, really. I could see the Devils protecting Lovejoy. Ray Shero did sign him to a significant contract last summer; I don’t think he’ll want to expose him if he can. This means John Moore is exposed, meeting the requirement of one defenseman signed through next season. While Moore has been productive with four goals and five assists, he’s been porous in his own end for two straight seasons and he’s been bringing others’ underlying numbers down in 5-on-5 play. If the Devils defense wants to improve, then they’ll need to move on from him. This is a way to do that.

Yes, Moore has better offensive numbers, but 13 points in 37 games is not lighting the league on fire. They both have similarly bad CF% 43.80 (Lovejoy) to 43.95 (Moore), but Moore’s GF% is a woeful 39.55% compared to Lovejoy’s 44.12%

Add to that the idea that they signed Lovejoy this year, and he’s currently on their top pair, we’re going with Lovejoy.

Goalie

Cory Schneider

Potential Issues

These selections would mean the Devils would need two forwards to meet the exposure requirements, since they would currently have none. Extending Beau Bennett and bringing in a cheap veteran to fill that role shouldn’t be difficult.

Final Protected List

Forwards: Taylor Hall, Travis Zajac, Mike Cammalleri, Kyle Palmieri, Adam Henrique, Devante Smith-Pelly, Jacob Josefson

Defense: Andy Greene, Damon Severson, Ben Lovejoy

Goalie: Cory Schneider