Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Mark Williams

Anton, Griffin and Jujhar

There are subtle shifts occurring in the Edmonton Oilers’ roster, and those movements may dictate what happens this summer—including the expansion draft. Edmonton is fortunate because much of the McDavid cluster is not eligible for the expansion draft:

  • Connor McDavid, Darnell Nurse, Matt Benning, Jesse Puljujarvi, Anton Slepyshev, Drake Caggiula, Nick Ellis, Caleb Jones, Ethan Bear, Ziyat Paigin, Joey Laleggia, Ben Betker, Ryan Mantha, Joe Gambardella, Kyle Platzer, Greg Chase, Tyler Benson, Patrick Russell,William Lagesson, Shane Starrett. 

That isn’t the complete list of ineligible players, but pretty close. Edmonton’s ability to protect this group before submitting their list is a major advantage—God forbid we see another expansion draft in 2019.

Let’s review the assets list: best player in the game, two NHL defensemen, a PF prospect who is NHL-ready, two forwards vying to become NHL regulars (Slepyshev, Caggiula), a plethora of defensive prospects and a few interesting prospects. Fantastic!


The NHL exposure rules are specific, with Mark Fayne, Benoit Pouliot and Mark Letestu needing to be exposed (source). With that understood, here is my expansion protected list:

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  • Goal: Cam Talbot
  • Defense: Andrej Sekera, Adam Larsson, Oscar Klefbom
  • Forwards: Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Milan Lucic, Jordan Eberle, Patrick Maroon, Zack Kassian, Jujhar Khaira

It has been for some time, and I think that represents the ideal protected list. This would give the Vegas Golden Knights the following (obvious) options:

  • G Laurent Brossoit, D Mark Fayne, D Kris Russell (UFA), D Griffin Reinhart, D Jordan Oesterle (UFA), D Dillon Simpson, C Mark Letestu, C David Desharnais (UFA), L Benoit Pouliot, R Tyler Pitlick (UFA), R Iiro Pakarinen.

Edmonton probably wants the Golden Knights to take Benoit Pouliot, that represents a massive (and badly needed) helping hand in terms of cap next season. I wonder about a sweetener. If you’re Vegas, you can probably find a player like Pouliot for less, and may prefer drafting Griffin Reinhart or Mark Letestu.

If you’re Edmonton, and want Vegas to take Pouliot, what is an acceptable sweetener?


Jujhar Khaira is a player I would protect from the expansion draft. He’s a big winger, and his offense has improved over the three seasons of Khaira’s entry-level deal.

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Anton Slepyshev is an emerging talent, he represents a value deal and is ineligible for the expansion draft.

Griffin Reinhart is a big WHL defender and a player the Golden Knights may see as a possible solution for years to come.


Let’s say general manager George McPhee is willing to take Benoit Pouliot in the expansion draft, but the sweetener is Jujhar Khaira. Would you do it? What if the ask is Anton Slepyshev? Griffin Reinhart?

I look forward to hearing from you!

    • Opie

      It’s only a no brainer if they NEED that 4 million dollars for something. If we have more than enough cap to work with until his contract is up after next year than why give up a prospect just to move his cap for the sake of doing so.

      • Reinman

        Pouliot’s 4 million would be better spent elsewhere. I think Slepyshev is a bit more than a sweetener. I still think he may develop into a top 6 winger, he has size, speed and a hard shot, and he works hard. Being that he has had to fight the language barrier, and change his play to North America, I wouldn’t let him go as a sweetener in any deal for a couple of years yet. He has, so far, shown flashes of brilliance. As I think he gains more confidence I still really beleive he could make it as a top 6. He could replace Eberle, when he becomes affordable. I mean, we cannot keep Lucic, Ebs, Nuge, Drai, and McDavid. Also Kassian, Maroon, and a few guys like that may well get a pay raise, and then you have our defense. Resign Russell? Nurse and Benning will likely command more money etc etc. Make sense to keep a quality prospect like Slepushev, and Cagguila for that matter.

        I wonder if LV will have a run at Brossoit, for a backup and a prospect. I think it makes sense for LV to draft a lot of younger players, still under RFA. If they start taking UFA players, they will likely be in cap hell after too long and still a basement dwelller team.

  • Bills Bills

    I wouldn’t give up anyone. Let them take whoever they are going to take. I certainly wouldn’t lose two players just to get rid of Pouliot. His cap hit won’t be a real issue until the 2018/19 season. I am sure PC can find another way to deal with it before then. Besides, LV may likely take him anyway. He’s big and able to play in the top six. Something that an expansion team may be looking for anyway.

  • Danoilerfanincalgary

    Las Vegas will not be taking Pouliot even with a sweetener, I am hearing the same talk about Brouwer down here in Calgary. Letestu would make great sense an experienced inexpensive utility forward who can play anywhere up and down in the lineup. I agree Khaira needs to be protected though and Letestu can be replaced internally.

  • JoelSavvi

    If Letestu is picked up then its a bit of a loss but its not like we arent grooming a player to be exactly like him. Caggiula will be just as good, if not better in 2 seasons.

  • dolenupnorth

    Well if you remove the ufa’s it leaves griffen, LB, fayne, poo, osterele, Letestu, and paks. Not a big loss any how you slice it. I can’t see Vegas taking simpson or osterele or iro. That means your gonna lose griffen, Letestu fayne, poo or LB. I doubt it’s LB to unproven and they will have 30 other goalies to pick from. Doubt it’s fayne they could get him off waivers. Griffen is 5 years out from his draft and still trying to make his mark on the nhl and might never be more then a bottom pairing d man. So all this to say I think it comes down to poo or testtube. Which is a decision between 1 year of a bottom six center or 2 years of a middle six winger maybe they just take him

    • FISTO Siltanen

      LB also isn’t waiver eligible. So unless they take him to be their #2 it makes no sense. If they ended up with two legit starters they are sending LB down and risk losing one of their picks for nothing.

  • 5>1>0

    Khaira over Letestu? Are you nuts? Khaira has shown next to nothing at this level, Letestu just had a 15 goal season and shown to be a very versatile player. Throw in a 3rd rounder or lower for them to take Pouliot. Done

    • russneversleeps

      Oilers have to expose Letestu to meet the expansion exposure rules. They need to expose two forwards signed for 2017-18 who played 40 games this year or 70 games over the past two. Khaira doesn’t meet those criteria, Letestu does.

  • dolenupnorth

    Everyone is talking about how Letestu plays on both special teams but I think that poo also does that, no pp this year but I think he has in previous years.

  • Oilersrule99

    Are we talking about the same mark letestu from elk point Albert who had 5 or 6 game winning goals this year,who had the goal in game 5 to make it 3-2 at the end of the 2ND,who is a good two way player,has experience and hockey sense,who has one of the better fo % on the team,kills penalties well and is the definition of a Swiss army knife player?

    • drquist

      He is one of the best versatile underrated players in the playoffs at the moment.. when the Oilers go deep into the playoffs it is players like him that will play a huge factor without being front and center. Why would you think about trading/letting go of a guy like that if you don’t have to??

    • crabman

      Like people have said in earlier comments letestu would be exposed because of the expansion rules listed in the link. It is probably between Letestu and Kassian at this point. As good as Letestu has been he is an aging player on a short term deal compared to a younger player under team control who is the type of player the GM loves.

  • Kepler62c

    I’d really like to see them work hard to hang on to Reinhart – his development has been slow and not what they expected, but I think he’s going to be a good NHL player for a long time when he makes it (likely next season going by reports from Bakersfield).

    I’d give up Slepyshev or Khaira to see them take Pouliot off the books. Wingers can always be found in free agency. Ya they are both young and we don’t know their full potential – but smart hockey people think Slepyshev’s best outcome is a middle six winger, and likely bottom six, and we already know Jujhar is going to be a bottom 6 player – it has value, but there are plenty of other options.

    • Reinman

      I’d like to see them trade Reinhart. Where is he going to fit in? We have our 3 LD locked up. Klefbom, Sekera, Nurse. Is he our 7th defenseman? What about Gryba and Benning, is Benning 3rd line RD now? Maybe we can trade him for a mid 1st and 2nd round pick? No, only an idiot would go for that.

      • Reg Dunlop

        Haha, idiot! I like that. Only an idiot would trade Scrivens for Kassian, Gernat for Maroon, precious draft picks for Talbot and the best left winger in the galaxy for pennies on the dollar aka. Larsson. Who needs playoffs, I want Hallsy and the draft lottery back.

  • Kepler62c

    I’d really like to see them work hard to hang on to Reinhart – his development has been slow and not what they expected, but I think he’s going to be a good NHL player for a long time when he makes it (likely next season going by reports from Bakersfield).

    I’d give up Slepyshev or Khaira to see them take Pouliot off the books. Wingers can always be found in free agency. Ya they are both young and we don’t know their full potential – but smart hockey people think Slepyshev’s best outcome is a middle six winger, and likely bottom six, and we already know Jujhar is going to be a bottom 6 player – it has value, but there are plenty of other options available.

  • Deep Purple

    Tough question. I’d protect/build through the C slot at all cost (we’re not exactly deep here), but also like Pitlick’s game. Jujhar will survive the expansion draft.

  • Finnish Oiler fan in Edmonton89

    I’d protect letestu. He’s been a valuable asset to the special teams.

    Right shooting and a huge post to PP and solid on PK

    I’d give Khaira to vegas as a sweetener if they took poo.

    I just don’t see khaira amounting to anything more than a 4th liner energy guy.

    I don’t want to see letestu go

  • nuge2drai

    Throw in a 3rd rounder and have Vegas take Pouliot.

    Khaira is one of our top 2 forward prospects and is going to be a stud.

    Vegas takes Reinhart anyways if we dont send them a sweetener. No doubt about it.

  • OilCan2

    I would let JJ go first then Reinhart and lastly Slepyshev. We NEED his SLEPSHOT! Plus he has the wheels, size & hands. LB will probably stick here because there are a TON of experienced NHL goalies.

    • Reinman

      Experienced yes, starting goaltenders no. RFA, also no. I think LB has a serious chance of going to LV. For me it does come down to Reinhart, Khaira, Lander or Brossoit. Try and keep the salary down, and see if you can sign some good players through Free agency, although that will be really tough. One thing is for sure, they are going to be a bad team for a few years. Wonder if they can build a team faster then the Oilers? But yea, expansion draft goal should be to draft a supporting cast that will likely remain on the team for 4-5 years. Paajarvi, Davidson, and others. Late bloomers should be the players they are trying to target. They may not all work out, but as they start drafting high draft picks, the supporting cast, hopefully for them, will already be there.

      • TruthHurts98

        Not a chance they take LB. Not even close. There are at least 10 other backups far better than him. If they take him and Poo fine. Ellis will be as good or better IMO. And they signed Starrett who might turn out to be something too.

          • crabman

            I think as Oiler fans we fall in love with our own prospects as we read articles about their development and see them good. But most NHL teams have their own players that would mirrror our prospects.
            After looking at the cap friendly expansion lists their are a number of goalies that could help LV now and in the future.
            Ari- either Smith or Domingue
            Bos- Khudobin and Subban
            Car- Ward or Lack
            Col- Pickard
            Dal- Lehtonen or Niemi (I don’t want either but both proven starters and expiring contracts)
            Det- Mrazek unless Howard waives his limited NMC
            Flo- Reimer unless Luongo waives his limited NMC
            Mon- Montoya
            NYI- Halak
            NYR- Raanta
            OTT- Hammond ( bad year but capable backup)
            Pit- Murray unless Fleury can be moved or waive his NMC
            SJ- Dell
            STL- Hutton
            Was- Grubauer

            That’s a pretty good mix of young prospects under team control who already have some good experience as backups. Older starters and older backups. Their is still a chance they take LB as the #3 goalie but it isn’t like there isn’t an abundance of quality options in goal.

  • Reinman

    When looking at the expansion draft try it yourself at that hockey cap website. What you will see really quickly is the players that are available are all like Pouliot, generally overpaid and under performing. Also a lot of the available players are UFA in the next 2 years. LV needs to secure players who will be around for a while. Why draft a player for one year and then lose him to the FA market. If I was LV I would probably looking more at guys like Reinhart, Brossoit, or Khaira.

    • crabman

      LV will need to have a mix of young cheap RFA players who will grow with the team and bad contracts on shorter term. They need to selct players that will bring their salary up to at least 60% of this years salary cap which is 43.8 million dollars. To do that it makes sense to take a few “bad” contracts that will be offtje books in a year or two to maximize their flexibility. Not saying they take Pouliot but not out of the question. That contract wouldn’t be an albatross to them since they probably won’t be near the cap ceiling for some time and if he bounces back to his scoring of the past couple seasons he would fill a middle six scoring winger role on a bad team just fine.

  • RyanCoke

    Thing is half the guys selected to LV will probably end up playing there for awhile. They still want the paycheque and most will probably not be picked back up from there old teams

    • Reinman

      If they are UFA in a year or 2, many may not like finishing last, and may want a run at the cup. Especially older players. Better to try and get guys that are still RFA, that you can hold onto for a while. Reinhart, or Brossoit, Paajarvi, Davidson, guys like that is who they should be targeting in the draft. Relatively cheap, guys that you can start building a team identity around. Get solid 2 way players, and then draft your stars in the coming years, plus any UFA’s who like strippers and gambling.

      • dolenator

        Trouble is rfa are going to be on entry level deals and not eligible. The ones available if there worth there salt will be protected so your left with the high risk salvation projects and unproven or marginal guys. You can not build a team out of 4th line guys and and 3rd pairing d men. I think Vegas is going to have trouble making the cap floor and will be happy to take some bad contracts to get them there.

  • madjam

    A sweetener should be one of our extra draft choices in 3rd and/or 5th round this year . Also , could give up rights to Lander , Yakimov or a R. Horak . See no advantage to include another player who is part of roster . I do not see Vegas wanting Khaira , therefore I see Oilers protecting Letestu over Khaira . Vegas probably interested in Pouliot or Russel .

    • crabman

      If the Oilers protect Letestu they will need to expose another forward from Lowtide’s projectes list, that isn’t Khaira, to satisfy the expansion rules. Who would you suggest they wxpose instead?

  • hockeyfan12

    This doesn’t make sense Lowetide. If you were the GM of Vegas, would you take Pouliot if he were on Waivers? The answer is no, just like the other 29 teams would not. Vegas would need a different sweetener, not somebody that could be taken in the expansion draft such as Khaira or Reinhart, not enough.

  • 916oiler

    Protect Letestu over Khaira all day. Letestu does so much for us, Khaira is kind of alright, but what’s his ceiling? Probably less than that of Letestu…

  • MacT's Neglected Helmet

    Reinhart. Yes. I would give him up. He’s a decent prospect. The trade was bad, but it’s a sunk cost. Move on.

    Otherwise, no. Pouliot is overpaid but as he’s shown in the playoffs (see: his PK work), he’s still a valuable piece. May bounce back next year. He’s a negative asset at this point… but not THAT negative…

  • russ99a

    I think it’s going to take a lot more to get Vegas to take Pouliot. The word is the Oilers tried to move him all season, so he likely has significant negative vlaue to other GMs. An expansion team wants veterans to lead the young players that they’ll invariably have, and Pouliot’s track record of bristling under McLellan and subpar play for two years won’t help. I suspect a high future pick and a good prospect could start the conversation.