Welcome back to our Seattle Expansion Draft Series. If you haven’t read the first article that lays out the rules of the expansion draft, that would be a good starting point, as I’ll only give the very basic rules in each of these follow up articles. If you are interested in Detroit, that was the second article and the seventh article.
I’m going to take a look at either one or two other NHL teams each week. My goal is to get some input from people who cover the team because let’s face it, I don’t have the knowledge of each NHL team to be able to give you the best idea of what to expect. Keep in mind that there’s a lot that could happen between now and July, when the lists are finalized. So let’s dive into Montreal and Nashville!
Right off the bat, their goalie situation is interesting. Carey Price has an NMC, and he’s not going anywhere. Jake Allen is likely going to be the most attractive player to Seattle, and he’s very likely to be the player Seattle selects, barring some kind of trade.
On defense, Jeff Petry has a NMC, and him and Shea Weber are locks to be protected, regardless. Matla thinks that the third defensive spot is going to be a “coin flip” between Ben Chiarot and Joel Edmundson. We’ll go with Edmundson here, but it could easily go the other way.
Montreal has another NMC at forward in Brendan Gallagher, and like the other two, he would be protected anyway.
After that the pretty easy calls are Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Tyler Toffoli, Josh Anderson, Artturi Lehkonen, and Jonathan Drouin.
For right now, Matla thinks Jake Evans is the last protected forward, although if Montreal decides to re-sign Tomas Tatar or Phillip Danault ahead of the expansion draft, Evans would lose his spot.
Here are what Scott thinks are going to be the interesting questions for Montreal:
The tough calls come in situations like Shea Weber (would his deal prevent an analytics heavy team like Seattle from taking him) and exposing an underrated asset like Brett Kulak
What do they do with Jonathan Drouin, is he still able to make it work in Montreal or is his future out West?
Can the Habs save Kulak at all? He’s been arguably their most underrated and underutilized defender, despite elite numbers alongside Jeff Petry, and could be very appealing to Seattle for a number of reasons.
Current Predicted Protections
Carey Price (NMC)
Jeff Petry (NMC)
Brendan Gallagher (NMC)
Notable Unprotected Players
Pekka Rinne has been the goalie in Nashville for a long time. He’s a UFA, and with the rise of Juuse Saros, it seems like he’ll be either moving on or transitioning into a backup role. He’s 38, so retirement could be an option as well. The short version is that for a team with a few major decisions, this isn’t one.
The big choice for Nashville is if they go 8-1 or 7-3-1. Here’s what Bastin had to say about it:
It’s probably the biggest choice the team will make regarding the expansion draft. Dante Fabbro has shown growing pains, but his potential is obvious. The Predators already reportedly took offers for Mattias Ekholm this season, but as his fellow defensemen began getting injured, he was a steady presence and team leader. Ekholm’s play helped Juuse Saros rescue the season - but is that enough to convince Nashville to protect him in the draft with only one year left on his contract?
Keeping both Fabbro and Ekholm moves Nashville from a position of strength in the forward group, to likely losing an impact player. Forsberg and Järnkrok are players Nashville should not risk exposing, leaving only two skaters left to protect. The decision between 3 of the team’s centers with long term deals, two players who have shown during the playoff push after trades, or a pool of young promising rookies is tough.
I’m going to have them go 7-3-1. That would mean keeping Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, and Mattias Ekholm. Dante Fabbro is going to be pretty attractive for Seattle if this happens, I think.
As Bryan wrote above, there are some tough decisions at forward. Nashville has two high price centers in Matt Duchene and Ryan Johansen who had very disappointing seasons. By not protecting either, Nashville would be able to “protect two other young players that have emerged this season,” as Bastin puts it.
I’ll get to those two players shortly. First, let’s get to the obvious ones. Filip Forsberg and Calle Järnkrok are going to be protected. Viktor Arvidsson should also be at the top of the forward list.
Even though I typically do not protect UFAs as a rule, I’m going to defer to Bryan on the next part:
Mikael Granlund is a pending UFA, but signs all season point towards a deal to keep Granlund with Coach John Hynes into the imminent future. Granlund has thrived under Hynes after a disappointing debut in the Kevin Fiala deal. I expect him to be protected on a new deal alongside former teammate and another Wild trade, Luke Kunin.
Colton Sissons is in the middle of a contract that makes him an excellent value to the Predators, and he is the sixth forward on our list.
Lastly is the second of the two younger players Bastin mentioned in an earlier quote (the first being Luke Kunin):
Nick Cousins has had a strong season in a variety of roles, but rookie Yakov Trenin plays a similar game and leg all rookies this season in games played with 45 (Eeli Tolvanen and Dante Fabbro appeared in 40). Trenin has been a steady presence in the lineup, and he’s a player worth protecting with a new look offense necessary in coming seasons.
Current Predicted Protections
Roman Josi (NMC)
Notable Unprotected Players
Article 1: The Rules
Article 2: Detroit (First Time)
Article 3: Anaheim and Arizona
Article 4: Boston and Buffalo
Article 5: Calgary and Carolina
Article 6 - Chicago and Colorado
Article 7 - Detroit (Second Time)
Quick Rules Update
Article 8 - Columbus and Dallas
Article 9 - Edmonton and Florida
Article 10 - Los Angeles and Minnesota