The NHL’s expansion draft protection lists are out! A slight delay in the plan left many fans waiting a half hour longer than expected, but we now know just who each team is protecting in the upcoming expansion draft.
There will be a lot of hustle and bustle over the next few days before the Vegas Golden Knights pick their team on Wednesday. We’ll have you covered for every move they make leading up to the expansion draft, but let’s step back a moment and look at the 30 teams. Some lists were pretty obvious, while others have us wondering just what some general managers were thinking.
It’s hard to grade these lists because we don’t know what hand-shake deals teams have in place to lead Vegas away from certain assets, but we’ll do the best with what we have.
Dallas Stars. Fears were calmed immediately that Cody Eakin would not take up a coveted spot. Also, props to general manager Jim Nill on protecting a trio of young defensemen in Stephen Johns, Esa Lindell, and John Klingberg. The Stars didn’t overthink it. A-
Philadelphia Flyers. It’s a bit of a surprise to see Scott Laughton on this list, but not protecting Andrew MacDonald and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare is an immediate positive. General manager Ron Hextall is sticking to the plan, Flyers fans. A-
Pittsburgh Penguins. It’s hard to imagine the reigning Stanley Cup champions messing this up, and they didn’t. The Penguins went the eight-skater route, and for good reason. Patric Hornqvist got the nod over Carl Hagelin, and I think that’s the right move. We all know Vegas is taking Marc-Andre Fleury anyway. A-
Columbus Blue Jackets. There were rumblings that Jack Johnson would get the protection nod over Ryan Murray on defense. Instead, Columbus did the smart move and protected Murray while leaving Johnson exposed. That counts as a win. B+
Edmonton Oilers. Not protecting Kris Russell is an immediate positive, so good job, Edmonton! The rest is par for the course, with Jordan Eberle actually getting a protection slot despite rumors to the contrary. Not bad, Oilers. B+
Anaheim Ducks. Anaheim fans are likely panicking that both Sami Vatanen and Josh Manson remain unprotected, but that felt almost expected with how the big wig reporters were talking. The fact they remained unprotected likely means the Ducks have a deal in place with Vegas, so the worrying could likely be for naught. B
Buffalo Sabres. There’s no real surprises here for the Sabres. Big veterans in Zach Bogosian and Matt Moulson were always going to remain unprotected, while youngsters like Nathan Beaulieu and Johan Larsson were rightfully protected. B
Calgary Flames. Leaving big-contract Troy Brouwer exposed is a good choice for Calgary. Much like Buffalo, they protected their young, talented players like they should. Nothing to sneeze at. B
Carolina Hurricanes. Carolina is already starting to look like a new team. All three goaltenders from their system have been exposed, while Scott Darling got the expected nod as the one netminder. Vegas will likely go for Joakim Nordstrom or Lee Stempniak, but they weren’t expected to be protected. B
Chicago Blackhawks. Trevor van Riemsdyk is still the likely pick for Vegas the way the winds have been blowing, but Chicago protected everyone it needed to. Don’t be surprised, however, if the two teams have a deal in place to send someone other than van Riemsdyk to Vegas by Wednesday. B
Colorado Avalanche. I’m not sure what Vegas will want to take from Colorado, but they’ve protected their important pieces just fine. That’s all you can really ask, honestly. B
Montr4eal Canadiens. Jonathan Drouin joined Montreal’s expected list. Exposing Tomas Plekanec and Alexander Radulov is nothing to be worried about, either. Hopefully. B
New Jersey bDevils. Some recognizable names like Beau Bennett, Devante Smith-Pelly, and Michael Cammalleri have all been exposed. However, New Jersey protected three young defensemen in John Moore, Mirco Mueller, and Damon Severson, whom they all seem high on. B
New York Rangers. Tanner Glass wasn’t protected! Regardless, New York’s protection list isn’t anything outrageous. Par for the course. B
Los Angeles Kings. Dustin Brown, Marian Gaborik, and Jerome Iginla are big names, but not surprising with how their team is stacked to begin with. B
Vancouver Canucks. Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin were always going to be protected. Young standout Bo Horvat was, as well. Vancouver did what it needed to do here, which was not overthink it too much. B
Tampa Bay Lightning. Tampa Bay’s path got easier after trading Drouin, but losing Cedric Paquette, J.T. Brown, or Slater Koekkoek might hurt more than expected. Still, that’s the price of being a deep team. B-
Toronto Maple Leafs. On one hand, Toronto protected Matt Martin. On the other, it protected young forward Josh Leivo. On the third hand, it did not protect trade deadline pickup Brian Boyle. It’s a give and take, I suppose. B-
Arizona Coyotes. As a follower of the Flyers, it surprises me that Luke Schenn and Nick Cousins got a nod from Arizona. Alexander Burmistrov and Radim Vrbata both seem like better picks to be protected, though who knows if the Coyotes are done wheeling and dealing. C+
Boston Bruins. I can’t figure out why Kevan Miller was protected over Colin Miller, or Adam McQuaid, outside of the small difference in point totals. A young defenseman like Colin Miller might be what the Golden Knights are looking for. C
Ottawa Senators. Clarke MacArthur, Bobby Ryan, Marc Methot, and Viktor Stalberg are all big names to be exposed. Ryan, in particular, is a huge name that seems tempting for Vegas to snag, and for absolutely nothing in return too. C
San Jose Sharks. I’m not sure who Ryan Carpenter is, but he has just four points in 12 NHL games. Protecting him over someone like Mikkel Boedker just feels like a strange set of priorities here. C
Detroit Red Wings. Clearly, general manager Ken Holland values veteran goaltender Jimmy Howard over younger goaltender Petr Mrazek. Many thought Mrazek was Detroit’s future in goal, but with his exposure to Vegas it might not be that way for much longer. C-
Florida Panthers. Jonathan Marchessault would be a HUGE loss for the Panthers. Protecting defensemen Alex Petrovic and Mark Pysyk seems silly with a 30-goal scorer on tap. C-
Minnesota Wild. Marco Scandella, Matt Dumba, and Eric Staal all have been exposed. Minnesota will likely lose one of them for nothing, and it’s quite shocking to see them protect their aging core over potential key pieces. C-
Washington Capitals. Nate Schmidt is all but a goner after the Red Wings exposed Mrazek. Which is a shame, as he really showed up in the postseason. I also cannot fathom protecting Tom Wilson, but the Capitals clearly see something in him. C-
St. Louis Blues. Ryan Reaves over Dmitrij Jaskin, Jori Lehtera, and David Perron? For shame, St. Louis. Our Blues blog put it quite succinctly earlier on Sunday. D
Went through all of the lists. Only 13 protected forwards around the league had 13 or fewer points in the NHL last year. Reaves included.
— Game Time Media (@StLouisGameTime) June 18, 2017
New York Islanders. New York likely has deals in place, but protecting Adam Pelech over Calvin de Haan and Thomas Hickey reeks of bad asset management. Not sure what general manager Garth Snow is thinking with this move. D