Hypotheticals: Expansion Draft

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.

  • Hippy

    I'd have the same list save for swapping Stortini in and MAP out. Nilson and Schremp are the obvious players to pluck off the unprotected list.

    Why were only 26 of the 28 teams involved in the draft?

  • Hippy

    9-5-1

    Forwards
    1. Hemsky
    2. Horcoff
    3. Penner
    4. O'Sullivan
    5. Pisani
    6. Pouliot
    7. Nilsson
    8. Jacques
    9. Brule

    Defense
    1. Visnovsky
    2. Souray
    3. Gilbert
    4. Grebeshkov
    5. Smid

    Goalie
    1. Khabibulin

    The goalie's salary is likely tradeable to a team attempting to get to the salary floor, so I'd take him over Dubnyk.

  • Hippy

    Why protect Penner in an expansion draft? The Oil seem quite keen to dump his contract anyways. Keep JDD protected, especially since he's had glimpses of being a longer term option for the copper and blue.

  • Hippy

    I agree with your list except for the fact that I'd drop Moreau and Omark and keep Nilsson and Stortini.

    Heck, Stortini is darned near as good a player as Moreau except he's much cheaper and not rapidly turning into the Frankenstein monster. Omark, meanwhile, is the size of a shot glass and would rather play in Russia than the AHL. That may change when the KHL completely collapses, but I'm still not convinced he's anything more than a flash in the pan.

    Khabibulin might actually go in an expansion draft if he were exposed, just because expansion teams tend to have lots of cap room and they might consider a big-name, league-average goaltender a good way to put bums in seats regardless of his hit.

  • Hippy

    Haven't looked at your list yet. Mine would be:

    -Hemsky
    -Horcoff
    -Penner
    -O'Sullivan
    -Moreau
    -Brule
    -Pisani
    -Pouliot
    -Stortini

    -Gilbert
    -Grebs
    -Souray
    -Visnovsky
    -Smid
    (By far the easiest part of the exercise.)

    -Dubnyk
    (If they grabbed Khabibulin, I'd then sign Biron.)
    ____________________
    Now, having looked at your list, I chose Stortini over Omark, because I see him having a Buchberger-like career. I think he's going to be an important part of this team for a long time.

    I chose Dubnyk assuming a deal with Biron is possible. I suppose you're right — I'd probably need an understanding with Biron to be comfortable losing Khabibulin.

  • Hippy

    @ Sandra:
    Khabibulin would likely be the best tender unprotected and would undoubtedly be taken by an expansion team who would need a solid tender for the next 3-4 years before their own Goalie prospects become semi-viable options. Not to mention those expansion teams would be filled with fringe guys who wont make lots of coin for the first few years, so they would have Cap space. AND if the team was in Hamilton it would likely be one of the top earning clubs in the league. I'm sure they could afford him.

  • Hippy

    To start, all discussion of possible expansion by NHL executives should be grounds for death by firing squad.

    But I have no real issue with your list of protected vs unprotected players. Maybe I'd consider leaving Penner unprotected due to Salary concerns.

    That makes me wonder if a possible condition of any expansion drafts to come will include a clause where at least one unprotected player from each team has to have a Cap hit of over X million dollars so that the expansion team is capable of reaching the Cap floor.