Hypotheticals: Expansion Draft

Jonathan Willis
July 18 2009 11:18AM

jdd

Let’s say for a moment that the NHL has decided to add two more franchises, like they did in 2000 (Minnesota and Columbus). The first thing they do is hold an expansion draft for the two teams, which are to be located in Hamilton and Kansas City.

The rules for the expansion draft are as they were in 2000, and are as follows (courtesy of Wikipedia):

26 of the 28 teams existing in the league at the time of the draft were each allowed to protect either one goaltender, five defensemen, and nine forwards or two goaltenders, three defensemen, and seven forwards. For teams protecting only one goaltender, there was no experience requirement for those left unprotected. For teams protecting two goaltenders, each goaltender left unprotected must have appeared in either 10 NHL games in the 1999–2000 season or 25 games in the 1998–99 season and 1999–2000 seasons combined. A goaltender had to be in net for at least 31 minutes in each game for the game to be counted against these totals. At least one defenceman left unprotected by each team had to have appeared in at least 40 games in the 1999–2000 season or 70 games in the 1998–99 season and 1999–2000 seasons combined. At least two forwards left unprotected by each team had to have met the same requirements. 52 players were chosen in the draft, two from each participating franchise. Only one goaltender or one defensemen could be selected from each franchise.

Additionally, all unsigned draft picks (except picks drafted from Europe in 1996 or earlier who remain with their European clubs) and players with two years or less of professional experience are considered protected.

Here then is the list of Oilers players that would be at risk of getting selected:

Eligible Forwards

  • Gilbert Brule
  • Alexander Bumagin
  • Ales Hemsky
  • Shawn Horcoff
  • Jean-Francois Jacques
  • Steve MacIntyre
  • Alexei Mikhnov
  • Evgeny Muratov
  • Chris Minard
  • Ethan Moreau
  • Robert Nilsson
  • Linus Omark
  • Patrick O’Sullivan
  • Dustin Penner
  • Fernando Pisani
  • Ryan Potulny
  • Marc Pouliot
  • Liam Reddox
  • Rob Schremp
  • Ryan Stone
  • Zack Stortini

Eligible Defensemen

  • Tom Gilbert
  • Denis Grebeshkov
  • Matt Nickerson
  • Ladislav Smid
  • Sheldon Souray
  • Steve Staios
  • Jason Strudwick
  • Lubomir Visnovsky

Eligible Goaltenders

  • Bjorn Bjurling
  • Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers
  • Devan Dubnyk
  • Nikolai Khabibulin

*I’m not 100% sure on Linus Omark and Ryan O’Marra, but for the purpose of this exercise O’Marra will be considered exempt, since I believe O’Marra’s brief AHL playoff stint in 2005-06 doesn’t count as a year of professional hockey, and Omark will be considered eligible because of his professional experience in Europe.

The List

Who should the Oilers protect from this hypothetical expansion draft? I’m curious to see what the consensus is in the comments, but I’ll do up my list now.

First of all, the strength of the Oilers current group is its defensive corps, so I’ve decided to protect nine forwards, five defenseman and one goaltender rather than seven, three and two.

Protected Forwards

I’m going to start with the forwards, since they’re relatively easy:

  • Ales Hemsky
  • Shawn Horcoff
  • Ethan Moreau
  • Patrick O’Sullivan
  • Dustin Penner
  • Fernando Pisani

Those six were obvious, and the next three comes down to a choice between a group of Gilbert Brule, J-F Jacques, Robert Nilsson, Linus Omark, Marc Pouliot, Rob Schremp and Zack Stortini. Jacques’ injury concerns, Nilsson’s salary and redundancy on the roster, and Schremp’s stagnation lead me to eliminate them. I also make the difficult choice to keep Zack Stortini off of the protected list because while I love his work ethic and willingness, I can’t ever see him elevated much higher than the fourth line. My final three protected forwards are:

  • Gilbert Brule
  • Linus Omark
  • Marc Pouliot

Protected Defensemen

This part of the list I found incredibly easy. I would protect the following five defensemen:

  • Tom Gilbert
  • Denis Grebeshkov
  • Ladislav Smid
  • Sheldon Souray
  • Lubomir Visnovsky

Left unprotected were Steve Staios (salary, age), Jason Strudwick (depth defenseman) and Matt Nickerson (obviously).

Protected Goaltender

  • Nikolai Khabibulin

This was easily the hardest part of the list. Bjorn Bjurling was an easy player to leave unprotected, while Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers came next because he is neither ready for an NHL starting role nor does he have Devan Dubnyk’s potential. That left me a choice between Nikolai Khabibulin and Devan Dubnyk.

Nikolai Khabibulin would be an obvious choice if his contract wasn’t so long (four years) and impossible to get out of (over 35) and there weren’t other goaltenders (Biron, Fernandez) still on the market. That said, I would probably opt to protect him and expose Dubnyk unless I could hammer out an agreement in principle with Martin Biron.

Since I can also only lose one goaltender, I’d work hard to try and convince teams to take Deslauriers instead of Dubnyk. At the 2000 Draft, San Jose made trades with both Minnesota and Columbus to keep them from selecting Evgeni Nabokov, and since my team could only lose one goaltender, I’d try and make a deal if a team elected to take Dubnyk over Deslauriers.

The Unprotected

  • Alexander Bumagin
  • J-F Jacques
  • Steve MacIntyre
  • Alexei Mikhnov
  • Evgeny Muratov
  • Chris Minard
  • Robert Nilsson
  • Ryan Potulny
  • Liam Reddox
  • Rob Schremp
  • Ryan Stone
  • Zack Stortini ---
  • Matt Nickerson
  • Steve Staios
  • Jason Strudwick ---
  • Bjorn Bjurling
  • Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers
  • Devan Dubnyk

As the G.M. of both Hamilton and Kansas City, I would make the following selections:

Hamilton acquires Rob Schremp for agreeing not to select a goaltender.

Kansas City acquires Cody Wild for agreeing not to select Devan Dubnyk, and selects Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers.

Hamilton selects Robert Nilsson.

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 David S
July 19 2009, 03:15AM
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Garett wrote:

Its Deslauriers!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

C'mon man. We have to cut the ESL students on here a bit of slack.

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#52 roadrunner
July 19 2009, 08:31AM
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Man you folks are a dedicated bunch talking about hypotheticals on a 28 degree day outside! Sheesh!

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#53 ryan
July 19 2009, 09:53AM
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How many years has Omark played. How the hell is he on the list. Hemsky is way over rated. He does nothing on 5 on 5. Pouliot is a joke he only played well in quebec cause he was on Crosbys line.

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#54 Peter Pan
July 19 2009, 10:19AM
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Its a shame you undervalue what Zack brings to the team. 4th liners are a needed asset too.

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#55 ryan
July 19 2009, 10:25AM
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This is a great article for a Canucks fan living in make believe.

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#56 Jonathan Willis
July 19 2009, 10:37AM
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For all those lovely people who don't like the hypothetical article: I'm a draft geek. I like doing up mock drafts, I like thinking about what I would do as a GM in different situations.

I realize that many of you aren't interested, in which case I'd advise you to just skip the article.

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#57 Ogden Brother
July 19 2009, 12:01PM
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Side note: A friend of mine works for the Rebels, he told me last night that D/B Sutter were both just in Kelowna talking to Heatly... Wouldn't that just be icing on the cake.

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#58 Chris
July 19 2009, 07:02PM
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Archaeologuy wrote:

And yet they risked (and lost) millions of dollars by watering down their talent pool.

I don't understand. ~With incredible talent like Brule, Potulny, and Schremp languishing in the minors; it's clear that expansion is required~

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#59 Archaeologuy
July 19 2009, 09:34PM
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@ Chris: Ha. The fact that 1 team last year (the Islanders)couldnt even find a 20 goal scorer suggests to me that the league is too thin on talent. Between 30 NHL teams and Players jumping ship to play in Siberia there isnt enough talent to fill the NHL.

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