Two Defencemen and the Expansion Draft

Peter Chiarelli3

A few days back, I
wrote about
how the possibility of an expansion draft might impact the
Edmonton Oilers’ handling of Griffin Reinhart. The truth though is that if the
league decides to go forward with expansion, such a draft will affect not only players
currently on the Oilers’ roster, but also the team’s acquisition plans for the

It might mean that the club is better off adding only one
marquee defender this summer.

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Protected Lists


We’re still waiting for final confirmation of what the rules
of an expansion draft would be, but based on what has been reported so far
players with fewer than two years of pro experience (like Connor McDavid and
Darnell Nurse) will be exempt and teams will further be able to select one of
two protection schemes for their roster:

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  • Seven forwards, three defencemen, one goaltender
  • Eight skaters, one goaltender

The current roster only takes us so far because we can
expect change this summer, but under either scheme we find some players in
common. At this point it’s easy to project Cam Talbot as the protected
goaltender by default. The quartet of Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon
Draisaitl and Jordan Eberle would obviously be protected up front. Andrej
Sekera gets protected thanks to his no-move clause, while Oscar Klefbom should
be an uncontroversial selection for one of those spots.

That leaves the Oilers with room to protect either two more
skaters, or three forwards and a single defenceman.

Nail Yakupov seems certain to be traded, so for our purposes
here we can ignore him. Ideally, though, Benoit Pouliot and Patrick Maroon
would be protected and it’s possible the team will also want to safeguard
Jujhar Khaira. On defence, Brandon Davidson and Griffin Reinhart are the most
desirable pieces to protect.

With a 7-3-1 approach, the Oilers could protect Pouliot,
Maroon, Khaira and Davidson. With an 8-1 approach, I’m thinking Pouliot and
Davidson would make my personal cut.

Added Pieces


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It’s a safe bet that Edmonton will add a defenceman, and for
the sake of argument let’s say that the defender comes at the expense of one of
the forwards. To make things easy, I’m going to call the forward
Nugent-Hopkins, but the math doesn’t change if we make it Hall or Eberle or
Draisaitl instead.

In this event, the Oilers would protect three defencemen
(Sekera, Klefbom, new guy) for sure. With a 7-3-1 approach, Davidson and
Reinhart would be exposed. With an 8-1 approach, Pouliot and Davidson are
protected and the Oilers would likely lose one of Maroon, Reinhart or Khaira
(in my view; those who would rather protect Maroon/Reinhart or something along
those lines can adjust accordingly).

That’s not ideal, but it’s doable. If the Oilers add a
second defenceman, things get interesting.

Here, 7-3-1 isn’t a realistic option; we may assume that
Edmonton would want to protect both of its new additions, plus Klefbom, and
will need to protect Sekera. That means 8-1 becomes a necessity, and there are
only four spots left—three for our remaining forward locks, and one for the
group of Pouliot, Maroon, Khaira, Davidson and Reinhart.

Things get tougher if Edmonton adds anywhere else, or doesn’t
move one of its big forwards in the trade for a defenceman. For example, adding
someone like Andrew Shaw via trade or David Backes via free agency (both
right-shooting centres) would mean another body would likely land on the
protected list.

There’s another point, here, too. Having room on the
protected list next year is going to be really valuable, even if a team doesn’t
have a specific player in mind to protect. Lots of teams are going to find
themselves at risk of losing really good players for nothing, and it’s an
awfully good bet that if the Oilers have space for an extra defenceman on their
protected list next summer they’ll be able to get him for a relative song.

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This isn’t necessarily decisive. Adding two defencemen may
be worthwhile even if it means losing a Davidson or Pouliot over a Reinhart or
Maroon, and even if it means paying full price for a player who will come at 60
cents on the dollar next year. It just means that there’s a secondary cost
associated with adding that second defender now, above and beyond trade
cost/contract cost.

As I see it, that increases the incentive to add one really
good (i.e. 25+ minutes per game) defenceman this year but to wait another
season before adding a second high-end rearguard. If Sekera/Fayne or
Davidson/Sekera can handle second pair duty for one season without bleeding out
(Sekera/Fayne was a 50% Corsi duo last year with a 44% zone start against tough
opponents) and Klefbom/new guy can soak up major minutes in a top-pair role it
would give Edmonton valuable flexibility when the expansion draft rolls around.

That may not be the best course of action, depending on what’s
out there. But if the price on two defenceman is high enough, an expansion
draft a year from now might tip the scales in favour of just getting one. 


  • ponokanocker

    The Oilers main goal should have always been to add a #1D, not 2 more top 4D. A #1D would do wonders for this team, making their D partner(s) better, getting all the forwards the puck better, contributing offensively and the goalie will get hung out to dry less. While they will be a lot harder to get and cost more, their overall effect on the team will be greater.

  • CMG30

    One true top paring RHD is the bare minimum that this team must come out of the summer with. Once that giant hole is filled, -assuming a mostly healthy season of course- this is a team that can push for a playoff spot.

    Once we start to climb the ranks, the GM’s job gets easier. Free agents are more likely to view a team on the rise as a favorable destination. Not to mention that rival GM’s will value Edmonton’s roster players more and we can stop this silly talk about trading top players at a discount just to plug holes that never should have existed in the first place.

  • Hockeyfan

    pure speculation. I can’t see any unprotected oiler being desired by an expansion team. Don’t think the Oil have anything to worry about. 2 marquee Dmen? HAHA, lucky if you get 1 average top 4.

  • 24% body fat

    get two d protect them with Sekera and Klef,

    up front hall drai nuge and one open

    at deadline next year if you can trade sekera than you can go the 7-3-1 option

    Eberle yak reinhart and unfortuneatle davidson need to be traded because expansion.

    Even if Yak and reinhart and davidson are traded for lower value than they are worth is it not better to get something than lose them for nothing.

    Would rather vegas take korp or lander

  • oilbaron

    Or we make a 2 for 1 or even 3 for 1 trade…….what makes people think that the new teams will want to pluck roster players from a perennial basement team? I would assume that better teams would have a muc harder decision to make then the oilers….

  • Strange Tamer

    Is Willis married to Pouliot? He shows him more love than anyone in the world. By the time the expansion draft happens he will be a 33 yr old complimentary winger making 4.5 million on the downside. If you have to protect that then you don’t have enough good players to begin with.

  • The Rookie

    I think the combination of expansion draft and possibly drafting Tkatchuk at 4 makes the thought of trading Hall for a marquee defender all the more likely. I’m not saying Tkatchuk is as good as Hall but in a world where we talk of trading Hall to get better-not to chase him out- it softens the blow knowing we have someone to fill that role. In a development standpoint it wouldn’t happen until next year so Tkatchuk can develop, but then it’s another year lost without that D man. The reason I say expansion plays a role is then U have another top end Fwd exempt. What If PC adds whatever top end Dmen have been talked about via free agency, and then pulls the plug on a Hall for *Name your #1 Dman* at next years trade deadline. Then u look at say two Dmen added via FA, one at deadline, Nurse, Sekera, Klefbom. Nuge, eberle, pouliot. That’s 9. By this time next year you then have a better read on nurse and Klefbom. Assuming they are still projecting well, you then have trade chips with the two d men brought in at FA providing they weren’t handed NMC. I think adding more d men, not less, is the way to go. Even if u don’t get full value at the deadline for them because teams know you don’t want to lose them for nothing at expansion, they didn’t cost any assets to acquire. Or keep them, lose one to expansion, and still have a possible better depth on the back end then this team has had for years.

  • Oiler Al

    Stick to just picking up one good D-man, and keep on playing.

    I continue to be amazed at what Sullivan in Pitts., is getting out of his no name defense.
    [no talking about Letang].

    Maybe the Oiler coaching need a kick in the pants.
    [ this is the same guy who could not make the play offs in San Jose, with almost the same team that goes to the finals this year.

    • Moe Sizzlack

      Haha that’s funny genius….sharks have 8 new players !

      Jones, Martin, Ward, Spaling, Polak, Donskoi, Zubrus and Reimer, are the ones I can think of off the top of my head but I’m sure there’s a couple more

      Jones is waay better then Niemi, Martin and Polak are SOLID Dmen and Donskoi, ward and Spaling been great complimentary players to the core Big Joe, little joe, Patty, Logan and Hertl

  • The Rookie

    Hmmm and further to my point, if at next years deadline you packaged hall and one of our *assume top 4 d* acquired at FA, to a team looking to go deep in playoffs, you could probably get a Hamonic + 1st rounder +prospect. ( yes I know if your in playoffs u don’t want to trade your top D man but if they are deep at the position as NYI were this year and need help upfront…HELLO!).

  • madjam

    We do not have a clear template of what Chia will add and delete from last years lineup . He may indeed be working on several bold moves ,hopefully he is , and one of those will likely be a better player lost than anyone that might be left from incumbent staff . If he does, then loss of that player will not hurt entire club performance as it will now under current structure that we have in place now . The same structure that makes us overpay players to come here because we have a poor supplementary base to begin and end with .

    Here is an idea for a template to get UFA’s here at a decent place . Selling the template to UFA’s , etc..

    Hall, Hopkins, Okposo

    Lucic, McDavid , Eberle

    Maroon, Draisaitl, Brouwer

    Hendriks, Letestu , Kassian .

    Sekara, Vatanen ,

    Klefbom , Ceci

    Nurse, Davidson

    No nbr.1 top tier players but the next level of additions or facsimilies of them at a cost we can afford . Vatanen and Ceci could probably be had before or during draft day for starters .

    Thus , Chia might have big bold plans for us yet , but with a lineup close to that we will lose a very good player , but overall strength will be such it should not effect us nearly as much as present structure does with expansion draft . The old template has to be abandoned as it has gotten us nowhere except to overpay and push more problems our way . Can Chia be this bold – we’ll see .

    Chia has an opportunity to keep the top four and add a terrific base offensively and defensively around them , something we have not seen here for over a decade. What a selling feature to those whom might want to come here if he does . Chia the Bold .

    A team that well structured would go a long way to keeping McDavid wanting to stay here and perhaps take a discount to remain in the future ,ala Crosby .

    • drogsuoires

      Your dream team won’t fit under the salary cap. You think the Oilers get to talk to all the free agents first and pick and choose which player they wan’t to sign, then the other Gms get to sign the leftovers.

      • madjam

        Well if i’m dropping salaries of players lost from Oilers , I work that out to be 19.2M in Ference at half price buyout for two years , Nikitin ,Fayne , Pouliot , Yakupov , Gazdik ,Korpikowski , and some for Reinhart – but should not be much of a benefit for him .

        For the forwards I have added I expect Lucic @ 6M , Okposo at 5.5- 6M , and Brouwer at 4.0 M or less . Even high end still a savings of 3 M plus . It fits and also enough to fit the defenseman acquisitions . Tight but doable , and i’d definitely try that template if we only got 4 of them .

        UFA’s buy into teams structure and ours has been poor for a decade . They’ll listen regardless whether we approach them first or last .

        • drogsuoires

          I can calculate your dream team to almost 50 mil for your 12 forwards and almost 20 mil for your 6 d . You still have to pay Talbot 4 mil and backup almost 2 mil and 3 extra roster players say 1 mil each. Brouwer wants atleast 5 mil.

  • Am I right?

    I don’t see expansion hurting any team with how the rules are now. If they made it so you could only protect 3 forwards, 2 Dmen and a goalie, that would force more trades and give expansion teams a better chance to compete.

    And would be hella interesting.

  • Total Points

    Most fans want to keep the 4th overall draft pick and Klef and Nurse and Eberle and RNH and Yak, in other words all the young guys

    Look at the playoff teams, most have a older core (Thornton, Crosby, Kessel, Kessler, Getzlaf, Keith, Doughty, Toews, etc) and a younger support group.

    The Oilers have it the other way, a young core and an older support group – Hendricks, Korpo,Ference etc.

    The Oilers could keep the young core together but then we wait another 3 – years.

  • Spydyr

    The Oilers are going to lose one good player in each expansion draft. Not picking up good players in an effort to improve the teams weaknesses because you are going to lose one is ludicrous.

  • Kepler62c

    Just wish they’d make a decision so GM’s could plan accordingly.

    Personally I think expansion is ridiculous, you’ve got teams like Carolina and Phoenix that can hardly fill their arenas and make no money whatsoever, and teams like Anaheim, Tampa Bay, and Nashville, that’d almost certainly be in similar situations if they ever start sucking for extended periods of time.

    The NHL is lucky that Edmonton is the team with the longest playoff drought and is going through a perpetual rebuild- because only in a hot Canadian market like Edmonton (Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver, etc.) would the team survive.

  • Mooseroni

    The 7-3-1 and 8-1 seems too far apart. I can’t see too many NHL teams using the 8-1 route, maybe a handful who wish to protect their top 4d? Should be 9-1 then their would be more teams using that combo, freeing up more players for draft.

  • madjam

    How much would a player like D.Brown cost us if he is bought out , less than a Brouwer ?Others in a similar fate but superior to what we have presently ? How much for Backes if his team let’s him go ? Lots to explore .

    • McRaj

      Face it madjam, your dream of keeping all 3 of Ebs, Nuge, and Hall is about to come to an end. Every rational thinking fan and every media person knows at least one will be traded for a D-Man. The question that has yet to be answered though, is which player goes and which D-Man arrives.

      • Bondo11

        I agree.

        Chiarelli will leave no stone unturned and there will be some dramatic changes forthcoming.

        This summer will be a defining moment for the team’s success over the next 5 years.

        I think we can all say that we’re exhausted with reading and commenting on all the potential moves the Oilers should or could make. I know I am!

        It’s time to sit back, crack a cold one, and watch it all unfold….

  • toprightcorner

    Thats why you push as hard as you can for Faulk. Adding him fives you your #1 RD that is also your PP QB. Lots talk Demers then Vatanen/Barrie but that is 2 players to fill 2 needs where Faulk fills them both. I would be fine with an over pay as Faulks cap hit is like a 30% discount value contract.

    If you add Faulk, I think the defense would be fine for now without risking losing a good dman next summer.

    Other option would be to trade Sekera for your RHD so you are not forced to protect him. then your options open up and you PP guy could be a LHD like a Campbell type and you could still add another RHD like sign Demers.

    If you get Campbell on a 1 year deal it gives the Oilers that windo to save a protection spot and trade for a dman that other teams are not able to protect. These could be of the Fowler, Savard, Martinex, Muzzin, Dumba, Brodin, Ellis, Ekholm, Hamonic, Hickey, Leddy, Braun, Dillon, Boumeester, Orpik, Alzner, Niskanen, Myers or Trouba. That is a ton of free pickins if you have a spot to protect one.

    • Reg Dunlop

      How hard do you want to go after Faulk? Nuge or Draisaitl? I think you have to add, maybe this years 2nd or even the 4th overall. But it still would be worth it. Faulk would play 30 min. a night here.

  • Twitch

    People realize its ONE player from each team, whether someone wants an unprotected player from Edmonton or Arizona they still have to take one, so saying who cares no one wants our players, they are still going to take one and beyond that its doesnt matter. If Maroon Reinhart and Davidson are available we still get to keep 2 out of 3 all of them don’t automatically become available to Vegas or Quebec

  • Twitch

    People realize its ONE player from each team, whether someone wants an unprotected player from Edmonton or Arizona they still have to take one, so saying who cares no one wants our players, they are still going to take one and beyond that its doesnt matter. If Maroon Reinhart and Davidson are available we still get to keep 2 out of 3 all of them don’t automatically become available to Vegas or Quebec