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Seattle Expansion Draft Series: Article 17 - Vancouver, Washington, and Winnipeg

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2018 NHL Draft - Round One Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

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 the Canucks, Capitals, and Jets!

This is the LAST team article. The plan is to do a mock draft with my predicted protections, then to do another mock draft once the actual protections are made public.

Vancouver Canucks

For the Canucks, I sought out the one, the only, the hockey twitter legend that is Petbugs, aka “Nobody.”

Goalie

Thatcher Demko is the easy choice after the season that Braden Holtby had.

Defense

Defense is pretty straightforward too. Protecting Tyler Myers, Nate Schmidt, and Olli Juolevi allows them not to expose anyone they would really be upset about losing. As Petbugs puts it: “There’s not much to choose from here, so you might say that Jim Benning has done a great job protecting his roster for the expansion draft. You would be wrong, but you could say it.”

Forwards

This is one of the teams where the person I talked to said I got everything right in my initial predictions I sent to them. I did not, however, have a 7th forward selected because I had no idea. So I’ll spend most of the time in this section on that choice.

The easy forwards are: Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, JT Miller, Tyler Motte, Matthew Highmore, and Elias Pettersson. (The ordering there is how they were listed on the CapFriendly page, obviously Pettersson would be the first choice.)

Petbugs says: “That seventh forward spot is really a toss up between Kole Lind and Jonah Gadjovich, who tore up the AHL with 15 goals in 19 games this year.”

I’m going to go with Kole Lind, whom Petbugs says probably has the most upside. Who knows! Jim Benning is not a good GM!

Before moving on to Washington, Petbugs had more information for people curious about how Vancouver might approach the expansion draft:

Really, the decisions they should be making are how to improve this roster by targeting teams that are at risk of losing solid pieces to the Kraken. But they won’t. Beyond the expansion draft, the Canucks need to clear some cap space to re-sign Pettersson and Hughes, so their real decisions will come to who to buy out, and Jake Virtanen is the most likely candidate. I would not be surprised to see them give up something extra to the Kraken to have them take Holtby.

As for what players Seattle may be targeting:

I haven’t looked at the goalies that are likely to be exposed out there, but I suppose there’s a chance the Kraken bite on Holtby. There’s a pretty good history of expansion teams riding a veteran goalie they acquired through the expansion draft, so they may want to bet on that. But more realistically, it will come down to those two forwards vying for the 7th protected spot. Lind probably has more upside that the other two. And while Gadjovich broke out in the AHL this year, there’s nothing to say that was just percentages or that he could bring that scoring touch to the NHL.

Also, this likely my favorite answer to the last question I ask everyone—”Is there anything else interesting about the expansion draft for this team?”

Holy fuck this roster is depressing

Current Predicted Protections

Thatcher Demko

Tyler Myers
Nate Schmidt
Olli Juolevi

Brock Boeser
Bo Horvat
JT Miller
Tyler Motte
Matthew Highmore
Elias Pettersson
Kole Lind

Notable Unprotected Players

Jonah Gadjovich

Washington Capitals

For the Capitals, I wasn’t able to talk to anyone, but fortunately, Chris Cerullo at Russian Machine Never Breaks recently wrote an article about their likely protections. Here’s a link to the entire article.

Goalie

Ilya Samsonov is the obvious choice here, as long as he hasn’t destroyed his good will with the organization with the actions that led to him missing time near the end of the season.

Defense

Cerullo has the same defensemen listed as I did when I made my initial picks. John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov, and Justin Schultz.

Forwards

As Cerullo puts it, the first five choices here are obvious. Nicklas Backstrom (NMC), Evgeny Kuznetsov, TJ Oshie, Anthony Mantha, and Tom Wilson.

It’s no secret how much I dislike Wilson. But it’s pretty obvious that he’s a must-protect for them. Kuznetsov fell out of favor and Washington will almost definitely try to trade him, but I cannot see them potentially losing him for nothing. That makes no sense to me.

Cerullo says that Lars Eller is also on the no-brainer list. Here is what he says for the 7th spot:

The seventh forward protected is where things could go either way between Daniel Sprong and Conor Sheary. I could also even see an argument for Nic Dowd. At the end of the thinking process, I believe the Caps will see the team control and future value of a player like Sprong as a more valuable asset than someone like Sheary or Dowd that is easier to replace via free agency or from within the organization. To put things in better perspective, Sprong just scored at a 25-goal pace over a full 82-game season, is under contract for another season at barely above league minimum salary, and is currently the only Caps skater on the entire roster under the age of 25.

I think he makes an excellent case for Daniel Sprong here.

I’ve seen some conversation on Twitter about protecting Alex Ovechkin. I think it would be foolish, since every indication is that he wants to continue playing in Washington. It only makes sense for a team to protect an impending UFA if they think there is a strong enough chance that player would sign with Seattle over their team and they would be upset if that happened. The latter is certainly true here, but I don’t think the former is.

As for who Seattle will look at, Cerullo lists a few players: Conor Sheary, Nick Dowd, and goaltender Vitek Vanecek.

Current Predicted Protections

Ilya Samsonov

John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov
Justin Schultz

Nicklas Backstrom (NMC)
Evgeny Kuznetsov
TJ Oshie
Anthony Mantha
Tom Wilson
Lars Eller
Daniel Sprong

Notable Unprotected Players

Conor Sheary
Nick Dowd
Vitek Vanecek

Winnipeg Jets

Sometimes I have to think about whom I want to talk to about a team. Fortunately, for Winnipeg, that wasn’t a problem. Harrison Lee is a writer for Artic Ice Hockey and hosts the Locked on Jets podcast. We also chat nearly daily about video games :)

Goalie

The only uncertainty about writing Connor Hellebuyck’s name here is remembering where the Y goes in his last name.

Defense

The defense is also relatively easy, although Lee points out a potential wrinkle. The three are Josh Morrissey, Dylan DeMelo, and Neal Pionk. Lee says that Winnipeg COULD protect Logan Stanley over DeMelo, but:

I don’t think Stanley-for-DeMelo is all that likely. As much as the club likes Stanley, he’s not a top-end young D. DeMelo’s clearly one of the team’s most important skaters

Forwards

There’s basically one potential choice at forward for the seventh spot. Before we get to that, let’s list the first six forwards: Blake Wheeler (NMC), Kyle Connor, Mark Scheifele, Nik Ehlers, Pierre Luc-Dubois, and Adam Lowry.

Where it could be interesting is between Andrew Copp and Mason Appleton. I’m putting Copp for now, but here’s what Lee says about this choice:

Appleton may end up getting protected if Copp’s negotiations go too far above $4M. Copp may be looking for a contract closer to $5M per year, and that’s a bit rich for Winnipeg’s blood.

The Jets will want to decide on Copp’s future with the team. He can be a pivotal contributor at both ends of the ice, but it’s difficult to justify putting that much cash into a middle-6 forward. The team also needs to figure out if a roster shake-up is necessary, moving one of the core skaters out.

Who will Seattle be looking at?

Seattle will be hot to trot for Appleton, but if [Mikhail] Berdin is available, he may be an intriguing selection for the future Kraken goaltending rotation. I don’t see this latter option as likely, or even remotely realistic, but it remains in play.

Current Predicted Protections

Connor Hellebuyck

Josh Morrissey
Dylan DeMelo
Neal Pionk

Blake Wheeler (NMC)
Kyle Connor
Mark Scheifele
Nik Ehlers
Pierre Luc-Dubois
Adam Lowry
Andrew Copp

Notable Unprotected Players

Mason Appleton
Mikhail Berdin

Previous Articles

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
Article 11 - Montreal and Nashville
Article 12 - New Jersey and New York (Islanders)
Article 13 - New York (Rangers) and Ottawa Senators
Article 14 - Philadelphia and Pittsburgh
Article 15 - San Jose and St. Louis
Article 16 - Tampa Bay and Toronto