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Photo Credit: Kelley L Cox/USA TODAY Sports

WWYDW: Expansion Draft Update

In this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday, we’re going to look at something we haven’t looked at for a bit: the Expansion draft. Edmonton is going to lose a player to Las Vegas this summer, and there are differing opinions about who that player should be, with some going so far as to suggest that longtime Oiler Jordan Eberle should be offered up to the Golden Knights.

Before we get into that, let’s quickly review the rules:

  • Teams may protect either a) seven forwards, three defencemen and a goalie or b) eight skaters and a goalie
  • Players with no-move clauses must waive them to be exposed; otherwise they must be included on the protected list
  • All players with two-or-fewer years of pro experience are exempt from this process
  • Every team must expose two forwards, one defenceman and one goaltender who is under NHL contract, with the caveat that guys with career-threatening injuries don’t count. Skaters must also meet some “real NHL player” criteria (40 games last year or 70 games over the last two years)

Forwards

Milan Lucic has a no-move clause and takes the first spot on Edmonton’s protected list. Leon Draisaitl will be a unanimous or close-to-unanimous choice for the second spot. I think there are three more obvious picks, but I don’t want to take anything for granted here, so I’ll just list off the other expansion-eligible forwards below:

  • Meet exposure requirement (8): Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Patrick Maroon, Zack Kassian, Mark Letestu, Benoit Pouliot, Iiro Pakarinen, Anton Lander
  • Pending UFA’s (4): David Desharnais, Matt Hendricks, Tyler Pitlick, Justin Fontaine
  • Others (4): Jujhar Khaira, Bogdan Yakimov, Henrik Samuelsson, Zach Pochiro

My three other obvious picks are Nugent-Hopkins, Maroon and Eberle (more on him here), with Kassian not far back of that group. That pushes the number of forwards protected up to five, which would commit Edmonton to a 7-3-1 approach. That should be fine since there aren’t four defenceman screaming for protection on the back end anyway.

Defencemen

Andrej Sekera has a no-move clause and takes the first spot on the Oilers’ protected list.

It’s virtually certain that the next two spots are taken, too. Oscar Klefbom has been the team’s best playoff defencemen, is signed forever at a reasonable cap hit and is just 23 years old. Adam Larsson, his partner on the team’s best pairing, is just 24 and also signed forever to reasonable money.

That leaves nine other expansion-eligible players to choose between.

  • Meet exposure requirement (1): Mark Fayne
  • Pending UFA’s (5): Kris Russell, Eric Gryba, Jordan Oesterle, Mark Fraser, Andrew Ference
  • Others (3): Griffin Reinhart, David Musil, Dillon Simpson

Goaltenders

This is the easiest of the three positions. Cam Talbot is both the most valuable of Edmonton’s goalies by a mile, and the owner of a no-move clause. Laurent Brossoit gets exposed; Jonas Gustavsson heads off to free agency.

Final List & the Vegas Pick

Chime in below with your final protected list as of this moment. Mine looks like this:

  • Forwards (7): Milan Lucic, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Patrick Maroon, Jordan Eberle, Zack Kassian, Jujhar Khaira
  • Defence (3): Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson
  • Goal (1): Cam Talbot

The most appealing players left over for Vegas will probably be Letestu (he’s a bad fit age-wise, but there aren’t a lot of centre options this year), Reinhart (he’s young and has pedigree) and Brossoit (young, cheap goalie who might yet emerge as a starting option). Of those three, I’d take Reinhart.

In Edmonton’s shoes, though, I’d try hard to get the Knights to look at Benoit Pouliot. Pouliot’s coming off a miserable year, but could easily end up being the equivalent of Nelson Emerson or Geoff Sanderson on a team without a lot of options. There would be a hefty cost associated with such a transaction; Lowetide suggested Caleb Jones as compensation the other day and that might be a low-ish estimate (as the compensation has to both allow for Pouliot’s contract and the cost of passing on Reinhart).

This being WWYDW, we now turn things over to the comments section. What does your expansion protected list look like, and who do you expect Edmonton to lose?

  • Not a First Tier Fan

    Sorry – I just must have missed something. Will have to go read Lowetide’s article because I have no clue why we would send Caleb Jones away in order to protect Reinhart… that idea seems completely wrong to me.

    • That's My Point

      No chance that Caleb Jones will be sent away. Put Pou and Ebs on the unprotected list and let LVGK deal with the overpaid players; they can’t take both. Caleb is the future depth the Oilers have been lacking at D for years.

    • Jonathan Willis

      The problem isn’t losing Reinhart, it’s Pouliot’s salary. He’s obviously not a favourite of Todd McLellan, and clearing away a $4MM cap hit for the next two years is going to be tough.

    • Dirtbag Daddy

      I agree. Just because the management made an error by giving up potential all stars for Reinhart doesn’t mean that management should continue to give away the Oilers future. Roll the dice and if Vegas takes Pouliot, Reinhart, Latestu it doesn’t matter. 1 of 3 contracts would be gone and each one of those positions left would be filled with future draft picks rather than saying we should have done that. I read in somebody’s mock draft that Vegas would take Brossoit because of the contract value and that he is already groomed for their AHL team. Interesting.

  • DiscoBiscuits

    So far, the strategy to keep Vegas from choosing Reinhart has been playing out perfectly: get shunted down the depth chart and have a lousy season in the AHL to avoid unwanted attention. And now the only cost of keeping him would be a promising up-and-coming defender? Where do I sign?

    • Deke Rivers

      And somehow a poor AHL season would turn into into a passable NHL season that would raise his profile more? If he can’t cut it in the AHL he isn’t going to work out in the NHL. The Oilers would have to trade and retain salary and Vegas accept for depth reasons. The same would apply to Pouliot, trade and retain salary will be the only way Vegas takes him.

  • I am Batman

    Simple: expose Eberle. He won’t be taken by Vegas, contract is too rich for a guy who doesn’t score, doesn’t check, doesn’t string plays.
    I bet 100 million dollars Vegas doesn’t take him…. imagine the humiliation!

    • QuitForRealThisTime

      Or trade Eberle to NJ for the right to speak with Kovelchuk (is this is a thing) or just prospects/picks….because not everyone think he has zero value as an NHL player.

        • btrain

          Did Eberle jump in his 5 star safety rated mini van, have his mom drive him (clearly is not a driver himself), carefully avoiding all potential road hazards to protect his self righteous self, pull up to your house, softly walk up to you, dust off his size 6 TOM’S before kicking you square in the junk? Just wondering because you make a pretty depressing fan otherwise.

      • CDNinATL

        That’s not the way it works. Basically, NJ will have to sign him first and then they can trade him. I’d assume any team Kovy would want to go to would have a say in the contract length and annual salary. Now I will say, this is a win/win situation for NJ. They either get Kovy or they have a good trade ready to go.

  • Spydyr

    I said this before. Find a player you like available in the expansion draft. Tell Vegas you will trade Eberle for that player on the condition the take Fayne. Nine million in salary gone. Spend it on Boyle or another centre and a right winger free agency.

    • Jonathan Willis

      Vegas isn’t winning in the life of either the Pouliot or Eberle deals, so there’s no reason for them to trade that first-rounder, which might be around when the team is good. The Golden Knights should be in collecting futures mode – either taking young skaters, or drafting veterans who can fill a spot in the lineup and then be shipped out for picks in a year or two. Even if Eberle was exposed and they took him, they might not keep him for this reason.

  • 916oiler

    Protect Letestu over Khaira.

    Absolutely do not give up Caleb Jones. Reinhart might develop into a good 3rd pairing D…might. Let him go. Is Brossoit better than Ellis? That question makes it easy to waive goodbye if he gets chosen.

    • Jonathan Willis

      I was actually expecting a little more pushback on this point. Letestu’s awfully useful in the here-and-now as a special teams guy, but I like Khaira more from a long-term and budget perspective. But it’s a close call for me.

      • Jonathan Willis

        And I should add: I’d actually be looking at bringing in a forward pre-draft, and then protecting him, which would mean exposing both Khaira and Letestu.

        • tileguy

          I think Pulju is our one time specialist next year, penalty killers are a dime a dozen and Letestu is slow so he can be expendable. What kind of pre draft forward Chia can swing is exciting.

      • crabman

        Jonothan my question for you is if you protected Letestu who from your original protect list would you expose? Khaira doesn’t meet the 40 games this year or 70 in the past 2 seasons combined criteria.

  • Cletus Spuckler

    Do you think Lucic would waive his NMC? I love how everyone defended him by saying he will be better in the playoffs, well the playoffs are here and he has disappeared completely….. You think his contract is going to be bad in 4 or 5 years, its bad now. Being able to free up 6.0 mil would help more than keeping that boat anchor on the team.

  • ed from edmonton

    I don’t see the Oil losing a Dman now that Davidson is not here. I don’t think you will see many teams signing their pending RFAs prior to the expansion draft, so even if Russell can be resigned, they won’t protect him. (P.S. I hope Willis will by a round for the house if Russell doesn’t resign with the Oil).

    On the forwards Pouliott will not be protected, hard to say what Vegas would think of him. Overpriced for what he brings (not much), but they might get stuck with a number of these types. If the Oil can dump Pouliot, that would be a big win. If not Pouliot, then who? Despite the current sentiment for Ebs, I can’t see him not being protected. One of Letestu, or Khaira would likely be lost. Depends if Vegas want a proven veteran or a young potential.