Welcome back, to those of you brave enough to embark on this journey with us! As the Playoffs roll on sans-Wings, the Expansion Draft looms ever closer as the next exciting thing for the Red Wings organization. Closing out the updates to the predictions means we’re almost to that moment I’m sure everyone has been waiting for...
But before Peter and I move on to mock drafts and heated debates on this-guy-over-that-guy, we have to finish the protection lists. As Peter mentioned in Updates: Part 1, Capfriendly.com has really great tools to help you understand what’s going on with rules and exemptions, as well as a whole page dedicated to helping you pick your own protections and draft your own Vegas team. Go there, check it out, give them clicks.
Also, I’ll be linking back to the original articles with each team’s updates. We packed a lot of info into those articles, so if you really want to go in-depth on some of the rules and exemptions stuff, those are really great places to brush up on things. Everything is also linked in the Storystream at the bottom of the article.
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
While we haven’t changed any of our roster selections based on how the season closed out for the Wild, I do want to call your attention (again) to Jason Zucker. While he didn’t maintain the scoring pace he held thru the first 48 games, the forward did still finish with a more-than-respectable 47 points in 79 games, with an average TOI of 15:17. It seems likely that Minnesota will try to do something to ensure he stays a member of the Wild - but at the moment, the only devices for that are to bribe Vegas with Draft picks, convincing a player like Jason Pominville to waive his NMC, or forgoing protection on one of Staal, Coyle, Granlund, or Niederreiter.
Until we see something to indicate that one of these options will be used so that Zucker can be protected, consider him the odd-man-out. Watch carefully.
Forward: Max Pacioretty, Alexander Radulov, Brendan Gallagher, Andrew Shaw, Alex Galchenyuk, Paul Byron, Phillip Danault, (Tomas Plekanec)
Defense: Jeff Petry, Shea Weber, Nathan Beaulieu
Goalie: Carey Price
Ok, we caught some flak for not including Brendan Gallagher the first time. After watching the rest of the season play out, we are conceding the point - but not without reservations. While it’s true that Gallagher finished ahead of Plekanec in points-per-game and total points on the season, Plekanec was more effective on the Power Play and remains a trusted hand in the faceoff dot with 692 wins to 660 losses in the regular season. 51% isn’t exactly dominating, but it’s better than how Dylan Larkin fared this season. There’s still a chance that Plekanec gets protected - particularly if Radulov won’t sign an extension and tells the team he wants to test the Free Agent market. But, for right now, scratch him out for Gallagher.
Forward: Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson, James Neal
Defense: P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm
Goalie: Pekka Rinne
Nothing we’ve seen so far gives us reason to believe that Nashville’s protection scheme would differ from how we originally projected. I mean, this is the core that exposed the Blackhawks as a paper tiger this year. Keep them together.
New Jersey Devils
Forward: 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
We still think this is the protection list they’ll go with, but it doesn’t currently meet exposure requirements. Outside of the 7 forwards we’ve listed for protection, New Jersey has players that meet the contract status requirement and players that meet the games played requirement, but not both simultaneously. It’s going to boil down to signing two players to contracts specifically for the purpose of being exposed... and currently, the only two the Devils could sign and still meet requirements are Beau Bennett and Stefan Noesen.
Honestly, it’s probably just as likely that Bennett and Noesen get protected and Smith-Pelly and Josefson are exposed so the Devils don’t have to muck about with getting guys with what seem to be limited futures signed to contracts. But, we’re looking to protect the team’s best players, and that should keep Smith-Pelly and Josefson away from exposures. Barely.
New York Islanders
Forward: John Tavares, Andrew Ladd, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson
Defense: Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Travis Hamonic, Ryan Pulock
Goalie: Thomas Greiss
Josh Bailey is the elephant in the room here. The guy finally came thru on a VERY good campaign with 56 points on the season, better than Brock Nelson, and we’re still leaving him out of the protections. The fact-of-the-matter is... we’d both put money down on Nelson maintaining a higher level of play than Bailey. Nelson has been a 40-point guy 3 seasons running of 4 seasons played. Bailey, even with a longer tenure in the NHL, has not come close to that kind of consistency.
Additionally, Peter assures me that the Islanders want to protect Ryan Pulock. Per the original article, there’s a bit of hype surrounding the young defenseman but the Isles won’t want to expose the core of their existing defense either. So, we stick with how we called it originally, but expect Josh Bailey to be a very enticing target for the Golden Knights.
We know New York is likely going to lose a good player unless they can bribe Vegas with draft picks. In addition to Bailey, Calvin De Haan and possibly Thomas Hickey are potential picks for Vegas. Hickey is an unheralded player, but Islanders fans Peter talks to love Hickey.
New York Rangers
Forward: Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, J.T. Miller, Mika Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes
Defense: Dan Girardi, Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh
Goalie: Henrik Lundqvist
Like the Devils, the Rangers have an issue with exposures. We don’t expect the protections to change, but they do need to sign one more forward to meet exposure requirements. In addition to Michael Grabner, who’s already signed into 2018 and meets the games played requirement, the blue-shirts will need to sign and expose one of Tanner Glass, Brandon Pirri, Jesper Fast, or Oscar Lindberg. This gives them a lot more flexibility than the Devils, and allows our protection picks to stay intact.
Forward: Zach Smith, Derick Brassard, Mark Stone, Ryan Dzingel, Kyle Turris, Mike Hoffman, Bobby Ryan
Defense: Dion Phaneuf, Erik Karlsson, Marc Methot
Goalie: Mike Condon
One could argue that, with continued uncertainty over his hand, Marc “Ol’ 9 Fingers” Methot should be slotted out for Chris Wideman as we had discussed originally as a possibility. However, I think Ottawa still wants to let Karlsson be Karlsson and they’ll go with Methot.
In net, Ottawa still has a decision to make in going with Condon or Anderson. Condon’s contract is up this summer and he has yet to sign an extension, but that probably is waiting on the end of the Sens’ playoff run. In the great debate of the 35-year-old with great numbers or the 27-year-old with good numbers, Peter and I both feel that age keeps the scales tipped in Condon’s favor.
Forward: Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Nick Cousins, (Michael Raffl), Valtteri Filppula
Defense: Andrew MacDonald, Shayne Gostisbehere, Radko Gudas
Goalie: Steve Mason
The addition of Valtteri Filppula at the trade deadline, for all the good it did them, throws a small wrench into the forwards. His NMC means somebody is bumped out, and our best guess at who that should be lands on Michael Raffl. When it comes down to him and Nick Cousins, Raffl pretty much is what he’s going to be at age 28. Cousins, 23, has room to develop and grow into the type of -coughgooncough- player that Philly loves.
On defense, you’ll note that we still have Andrew MacDonald penciled in. When we get the indication that Michael Del Zotto is willing to sign an extension with the Flyers, MacDonald will be out and MDZ will be in. To quote Peter: “I think they would protect the heralded player Sergei Anybodyelseinov over MacDonald even if he's on their top pair.” I still think the Flyers’ organization must see something if they're willing to trust him over other guys on the top D line, but people who watch him more regularly hate his face, so be prepared to take him out at the first drop of any Philadelphia defense contract news.
In net, Steve Mason still hasn’t signed that pesky extension needed to make our protections work. And it’s not like the front office hasn’t been at work signing people - Michel Neuvirth signed an extension into 2019 already. Is this a sign that the organization is ready to move on from Mason in favor of youngster Anthony Stolarz? Maybe... With only 7 starts to his career, the sample size is way too small to make an accurate judgement on. But, the coaches and management watch these guys every day - we only see them on game days. We will cling to the idea of a Mason extension for now, but Stolarz could be the new hotness for the Flyers.
Forward: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, Brian Rust, Nick Bonino, Carl Hagelin
Defense: Kris Letang, Justin Schultz, Olli Maatta
Goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury
Look at you, Ian Cole, turning in a solid season. The physical 28-year-old defender put up 26 points in 81 games for the ice birds, leaving a debate wide open on protecting him or Olli Maatta. Peter and I are still picking Maatta, even though the youngster seems to be going thru pretty big up-and-down-swings each season. This season was one of the down swings, but at 22 he still has a ton of potential and the Pens organization is smart enough to realize that (unfortunately).
We’re also still protecting Marc-Andre Fleury in net, since as of now that’s mandatory. Despite rumors that he’ll be dealt as soon as the Penguins are out of the playoffs, it still has to actually happen. There’s a distinct possibility that other teams won’t be offering the payout that Pittsburgh probably expects for their older netminder, who put up a 3.02 GAA and 0.909 SV% in the regular season, and they could be left holding the proverbial bag when rosters are due. I’m not saying this is probable... but it’s possible. Once he moves, Murray will get the protection spot.
Just to give you an idea of how probable we think it is that the Penguins don't find a way to move Fleury... Peter says he will write a post about how much he misses Steve Ott if they don’t figure out a way to protect Murray. I will risk drawing JJ’s ire and will send him his own avocado tree if Murray is left exposed. That's the level of probability we are dealing with here.
San Jose Sharks
Forward: Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, (Mikkel Boedker), Chris Tierney
Defense: Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun, David Schlemko
Goalie: Martin Jones
Boedker is out. Maybe not of his own fault, but Chris Tierney certainly looks like he’s pushing him out. The youngster is learning and has room to grow, whereas Boedker should have stepped his play up more to end the season if he was actually going to be all chummy with the Sharks. Tierney looked every bit the player that Boedker is already, with years of development ahead of him still.
St. Louis Blues
Forward: Vladimir Tarasenko, Paul Stastny, Alex Steen, Jaden Schwartz, Jori Lehtera, David Perron, (Nail Yakupov), Ryan Reaves
Defense: Alex Pietrangelo, Joel Edmundson, Petteri Lindbohm
Goalie: Jake Allen
Nail failed to nail his role with the Blues, being a healthy scratch throughout the season and ultimately getting sidelined with an injury to close out the season. Ryan Reaves, whom Peter mentioned in our original piece, was at least trusted to play almost the full season without being scratched. Another possibility for the last protection spot at forward is Dmitry Jaskin, who suited up for 51 contests in the regular season and posted 11 points. Putting the allure of a #1 overall pick aside, both of these guys are worth protecting over Yakupov.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Forward: Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan, (Valtteri Filppula), Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Jonathan Drouin, Vladislav Namestnikov
Defense: Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman, Andrej Sustr
Goalie: Andrei Vasilevskiy
With Yzerman moving Filppula out to Philly, the door is now open for Namestnikov to be protected without having to convince Callahan to waive his NMC. Although, getting Cally to waive the clause would mean that Tampa could protect Alex Killorn as well... Steve Yzerman is doing a fantastic sales job down on the Gulf Coast, so don’t rule anything out just yet.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Forward: Nazem Kadri, James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, Connor Brown, Leo Komarov, Brendan Leipsic, Kerby Rychel
Defense: Morgan Reilly, Jake Gardiner, Connor Carrick
Goalie: Frederik Andersen
Josh Leivo continues to drive conversation regarding protection. Posting 10 points in his 13 NHL games this season, the kid definitely made an impact when he was in the line-up. Is that small showing enough to unseat someone like Rychel, or Leipsic, or Komarov? It’s tough to say. But, considering how deep the Leafs are with exemptions, they may look to keep all the young kids together at the expense of a solid veteran. This decision could go down to the wire.
Forward: Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Loui Eriksson, Bo Horvat, Sven Baertschi, Markus Granlund, Brandon Sutter
Defense: Alexander Edler, Erik Gudbranson, Christopher Tanev
Goalie: Jacob Markstrom
No changes here. Not even any exposure complications. We’re just THAT good.
Forward: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, Lars Eller, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Jay Beagle
Defense: Matt Niskanen, John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov
Goalie: Braden Holtby
T.J. Oshie still hasn’t signed an extension, so keep an eye out for that. Per our first article on this, if he re-signs, prepare to bump Beagle out. The Caps also need to expose one more forward under contract who meets the games-played requirement, but you can be sure that will be taken care of once their playoff run has ended.
Forward: Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, Matthieu Perreault, Adam Lowry, Marko Dano, Joel Armia
Defense: Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Jacob Trouba
Goalie: Connor Hellebuyck
The Jets still need to sign Shawn Matthias to an extension, and then expose him for the draft, to make this protection scheme work. He’s the Jets’ only option to meet the games-played requirement, and can probably work a small bonus out for himself because of that. I wouldn’t bank on a team in Winnipeg’s position trading for an exposable player just for the sake of not losing Joel Armia or Adam Lowry when it’s much easier for them to just pay Matthias for a year.
OK... So, Now What?
Now that we’re only about 6 weeks out from the actual Expansion Draft itself, I think we’ve dragged this out about as far as we could have hoped for.
To quote the very excellent movie Super Troopers... “Are you ready for the fun part? Cuz here comes the fun part...” Take some time, let all this sink in, digest it a bit, and load our selections (or yours with whatever tweaks you deem necessary) into the Capfriendly Expansion Draft Tool. Some conversations are going to happen, maybe a little bit of screaming and one or two “ARE YOU CRAZY!?” moments, and then Peter and I will release our official mock draft predictions.
Hold on tight, it’s going to be a fun finish!