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Expansion Draft Protection Mistakes

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We now know what players are protected and exposed. Which teams made surprising decisions?

Toronto Maple Leafs v Florida Panthers Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

By now you have likely seen each team’s expansion protection list. Mike covered Detroit’s selections in a separate article, but I’m going to take a look around the league and see where teams made decisions that didn’t seem optimal.

(This article was originally called “Expansion Draft Protection Surprises,” but as a commenter pointed out, not all of my examples fit. So I changed the title.)

I had a Father’s Day brunch to go to, so by now other outlets have done similar articles. I haven’t looked at theirs, so the following is just based on my opinions.

I’m not going to discuss every team, but rather the ones that I feel include at least one major mistake. I will rank them on a scale of 1 to 5 Milburys of ineptitude, 1 being just a dumb decision to 5 being a decision that should get a GM fired.

We already have two articles about protecting Howard over Mrazek. I think it’s a very bad decision in terms of asset management, but that’s a discussion for another article.

One last thing to remember as well is that there may be side deals in place of which we are not aware. I can only evaluate the list as is, unless we already have word of a deal (which is why Anaheim is not on this list.)

Arizona Coyotes

This isn’t a major error, but I think bringing in Nick Cousins, who then takes a roster spot away from Alex Burmistrov is not a good trade-off. Again, not a major blunder, but not optimal.

1/5 Milburys

Florida Panthers

Florida made a pretty surprising decision and exposed players they didn’t have to, which is the worst part. They never obtained a defensemen who met the exposure requirements, so they were forced to expose Jason Demers or Aaron Ekblad. They chose to expose Demers, but then they opted for an 8-1 protection option as opposed to a 7-3-1, which means that on top of Demers, they are also exposing Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, and Colton Sceviour.

It seems to be a pretty large unforced error.

4/5 Milburys

New York Islanders

This, along with the Florida decisions, rivals Ken Holland for the worst decision of the day, and I think it saves the Detroit GM from that title.

The Islanders protected Adam Pelech, a player that Vegas had zero chance of taking, over Calvin De Haan, Ryan Strome, Josh Bailey, and Brock Nelson, all of which have far more trade value than Pelech. Garth Snow was always up against it, but protecting Pelech makes even less sense than protecting Jimmy Howard over Petr Mrazek, and that’s saying a lot.

5/5 Milburys

UPDATE: TSN is reporting that the Islanders will send a first round pick to Vegas in exchange for Vegas not selecting several of their unprotected players. Assuming that’s true, that would be a low price for New York to pay to protect all those players. (Although protecting Pelech still makes zero sense).

Ottawa Senators

The Senators protecting Cody Ceci over Marc Methot has many of their fans scratching their heads. Oh, also exposing Bobby Ryan. Yes he has a high cap hit, but that’s a big asset to potentially lose for nothing.

2/5 Milburys

Philadelphia Flyers

Protecting Radko Gudas makes sense if you are a fantasy hockey GM (as long as your league has points for hits/blocks/PIM). It doesn’t make sense if you are a professional hockey GM. Yes, we predicted they’d protect him, but we were trying to predict what we thought they would do, which was make a mistake. And they did.

1/5 Milburys

St. Louis Blues

Protecting Jay Bouwmeester over Petteri Lindbohm is a bad decision. Not the worst, but not a wise move.

2/5 Milburys


Those are the biggest mistakes that I see. I could have added a few more, but something like Washington protecting Tom Wilson doesn’t seem like a huge error to me when you look at whom they protected him over.

What other mistakes do you see with the choices that teams around the NHL made?