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.
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 Chicago and Colorado!
For Chicago, I had to reach out to Chris Watkins, Hockey Twitter’s blazing hot take machine and all-around great person. As always, a blanket reminder that the end product here is my current predictions, as informed by the people I talk to. Basically, it’s what I think the teams WILL do as opposed to what they SHOULD do. Also, there is plenty of time for things to change between now and July 17 when the protection lists are due.
In goal, the choice is pretty clear right now, with Kevin Lankinen being the player that Chicago will protect. Watkins says that he’s shown “some level of high play” so far, while Malcolm Subban and Collin Delia have not.
Defense is going to be interesting, because as it stands right now, Chicago has two defensemen that it must protect unless they waive their NMC. Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. The former is almost certainly going to be protected. Even though he’s getting up there in age, as Watkins notes, he’s played his whole career in Chicago, and likely won’t want to take even a small chance that he could be taken.
I think that Seabrook will not be protected, whether or not the league officially exempts him from the expansion draft due to what he’s said is a career ending injury. Even if that doesn’t happen, there is zero chance Seattle is taking him, so it makes no difference to him to waive his NMC for the expansion draft, and it’ll help the team, so I can’t believe he wouldn’t do it.
After that, Watkins lists the Chicago defensemen in order of importance as: Connor Murphy, Lucas Carlsson, Nikita Zadorov, and Calvin de Haan. He says “Murphy has probably been Chicago’s most efficient defenseman over the past few seasons,” so it’s very likely they’ll protect him regardless. Carlsson is younger than Zadorov, and it seems likely Chicago would value that considering their rebuilding status.
But wait! Chicago traded Carlsson on Thursday, so I’m bumping Zadorov into that slot.
Chicago also has two forwards with NMCs in Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews, both of whom will be protected. Toews is a little more interesting, since he hasn’t played all season, but as it stands, there isn’t anything that leads one to believe his career is over.
Alex DeBrincat is a lock to be protected, and Watkins thinks that Dylan Strome is next on the list, even though he’s not personally a fan of his overall game.
“He scores points, and he’s young” says Watkins, which would make him attractive to Seattle if he were left unprotected.
He thinks they’ll protect Andrew Shaw, even though “he doesn’t really move the needle.” That leaves 2 forward spots left.
Brandon Hagel is 22, is a “bottom six guy, lots of speed, lots of physicality,” and Chris thinks the team would want to protect him. Alex Nylander was acquired in a trade, and so he doesn’t think they’ll want to lose him for nothing.
Current Predicted Protections
Duncan Keith (NMC)
Patrick Kane (NMC)
Jonathan Toews (NMC)
Notable Unprotected Players
Calvin de Haan
For help with Colorado, I turned to former Avs blogger and current Twitter hot-take-haver Jibblescribbits. He doesn’t use his real name publicly, so I will be either referring to him as Jibble or Mr. Scribbits because it’s my article and that makes me laugh.
I’m going to go against my “don’t protect UFAs” general rule here and put Philipp Grubauer, just because he’s far and a way the best goalie on the list for Colorado. I don’t think the team cares a lot if they lost Pavel Francouz. Jibble says, “I would be ecstatic if Seattle took Francouz, but they won’t.” So there you go.
The Avalanche have to protect Erik Johnson as of now because he has a NMC. I’m going to say that he will waive it because he is, as Mr. Scribbits puts it, “an injury prone $6M 33y year old defenseman.” It seems very unlikely that Seattle would be interested.
If, hypothetically, Johnson does not waive his NMC, then Colorado would very likely go 8-1 because of the need to protect Devon Toews, Cale Makar, and Samuel Girard. Evolving Wild has those three as the most impactful defensemen in the entire NHL:
1. Devon Toews / Girard / Makar
2. Petry / McAvoy
— EvolvingWild (@EvolvingWild) April 7, 2021
So barring a trade, there is no way that Colorado is exposing any of those three. For now, I’m going to go with 7-3-1,.
Gabriel Landeskog is a very interesting situation. He is a UFA, so if he’s not protected, he could technically sign with Seattle. But he’s in a great situation right now with Colorado not only being very good now, but likely good for the foreseeable future, so why on Earth would he do that? I am leaving him off the list for those reasons.
Colorado has some obvious players who will be protected assuming all of the above. Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen, Nazem Kadri, and Andre Burakovsky.
Jibble thinks that the last three forwards on a 7-3-1 would be Valeri Nichuskin, Joonas Donskoi, and Tyson Jost.
This would leave Seattle with a couple good options. Ryan Graves is playing second pair right now, and JT Compher is a positive WAR player, who would likely play higher than on the 4th line on a lesser team.
Current Predicted Protections
Notable Unprotected Players