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)
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.
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
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?