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 L.A. and Minnesota!
Los Angeles Kings
I’m on my own with the Kings. I’m mainly using Evolving Wild’s WAR model as a guide, but I’m also looking at where players are currently playing as some insight into how the team values its players.
Boy, that tweet about how it was going to be 11 years of the Kings having a better goalie than your team sure aged poorly. Who could have seen that coming?
Jonathan Quick still has two more seasons on his contract, but this year so far he’s racked up a negative 3.24 goals saved above expected in 20 games played. Cal Petersen has played 30 games and has a positive 4.09 GSAx. Could the team protect Quick? Sure. I think it would be a really bad move, but teams sometimes make really bad moves!
Drew Doughty has a NMC, and while he’s fallen off from the heights he reached earlier in his career, he is still a player worth protecting. His Standing Points Above Replacement is the highest on the Kings’ blueline at 1.1.
Going down the SPAR list gives us Matt Roy and Olli Maatta. I don’t see any young players who aren’t exempt on their list that would make sense to protect over those two, so I think that makes sense.
Los Angeles benefits from having a lot of the forwards they would feel like they had to protect be exempt from the expansion draft. Because of this, they can easily protect all the non-exempt forwards they really need to, and the last few spots likely don’t matter very much.
Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, and Alex Iafallo are all worthy of protection, even though their their current production is much lower than earlier in their careers, especially in the first two examples.
Adrian Kempe is a positive impact player and is currently playing first line left wing, so I’m adding him. Andreas Athanasiou has the highest Offensive SPAR of any Kings forward, as well as the worst Defensive SPAR of their forwards (I know, right?), but he still has a positive impact. I don’t think they would want to lose him for nothing, so he makes five.
I think the Kings will value Brendan Lemieux more than I would, and Trevor Moore is a positive impact player currently playing on L.A.’s second line, so they round out my list.
Current Predicted Protections
Drew Doughty (NMC)
Notable Unprotected Players
Helping me with Minnesota is Matt Smith, who writes for Hockey Wilderness, the Wild SB Nation site. In a fun misunderstanding, he thought I was asking him to write this entire section. So he did! And here it is, as he sent it to me!
What would have been an easy, slam-dunk decision at the start of the season has been made difficult. Cam Talbot has been lights out for the Wild for most of the season; he’s currently 11th in the league in GAR (Goals Above Replacement) according to Evolving-Hockey.com. He’s gotten the bulk of the starts for the team with 30, and has been a steadying presence between the pipes. Unfortunately his .918 Sv% and 2.57 GAA aren’t going to make up for the fact that he is 33 years-old and a UFA in 2023. Also doesn’t help that Kaapo Kaähkönen is 24, the reigning AHL Goaltender of the Year and has shown flashes of being a very good NHL goalie.
Kaapo it is.
The Wild have an abundance of quality players at defense. A double-edged sword in the expansion draft. GM Bill Guerin is going to have to let someone go. He’s already discussed the big issue facing the team; the chance they may have to expose Matt Dumba. If they are able to convince one of Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon, or Ryan Suter to waive their NMC for the draft, they’ll be able to hold onto the 26-year old offensive defenseman.
(I’m going to predict Suter agrees to waive, since it’s so unlikely that Seattle would take on that salary at 36 years old - Peter)
If they can’t make it happen in the end, it’s likely Dumba ends up a member of the Seattle Kraken. If they can swing a deal, they are probably going to lose Carson Soucy, who by EW’s GAR metric is the third most-valuable dman behind Suter and Brodin. Soucy has been great this year, but he’s 26, a UFA in 2023, only averages about 15 minutes a game and has been a healthy scratch multiple times. He just isn’t that valuable in the eyes of head coach Dean Evason.
There just isn’t likely going to be anyone of value for Seattle to choose from to choose from here. The existing NMCs means that Parise and Zuccarello are going to be protected, unless they choose otherwise. The Wild’s dominant second line of Jordan Greenway, Marcus Foligno and Joel Eriksson Ek are no doubt going to be kept intact. They’ve got a 72 GF%, fourth best in the league for lines with over 250 minutes of ice time. You protect that at all costs.
Kevin Fiala leads the team in points for players not named Kirill Kaprizov, and is an offensive driver on his own. Ryan Hartman just signed a sweetheart deal with the team and has espoused how much he loves being there. Having a guy like him, who can move up and down the lineup, and even pivot to center, is very valuable.
Victor Rask has run hot and cold all season. He’s seen some success on the top line with Kaprizov and Zuccarello, but has also been absolutely brutal and a healthy scratch. I’m sure that management would love to see more from him, but the 28-year old probably doesn’t have much rope with exempt center prospects Marco Rossi and Matt Boldy poised to make their appearances in the NHL soon.
It’s likely that Seattle will be enticed by Nico Sturm, who is second on the team in GAR. He’s only 26 and has shown some flashes of relevance on the top line, but has also seen a few games from the press box and only has 9 goals and 14 points in 45 games.
Current Predicted Protections
Jared Spurgeon (NMC)
Jonas Brodin (NMC)
Zach Parise (NMC)
Mats Zuccarello (NMC)
Joel Eriksson Ek
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