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TSN predicts who the Oilers will protect in the Seattle Expansion Draft

In June of 2021, every NHL team (other than the Vegas Golden Knights) will lose a player to the Seattle Kraken.

Seattle will have the exact same Expansion Draft rules as Vegas did back in 2017.

Teams will be able to protect either seven forwards, three defencemen, and a goalie or eight skaters regardless of position and a goalie. Players with two or fewer years of NHL or AHL experience is exempt and players with no-movement clauses in their contract are automatically protected.

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With the birth of the Kraken right around the corner, every decision made this off-season will have the upcoming Expansion Draft in mind. Teams will be more averse to inking players to deals with no-movement clauses this fall and teams will also place an increased value on entry-level players who won’t count against their protection limit.

For an early look at the 2021 Expansion Draft, Frank Seravalli did a look at who he believes all seven of the Canadian teams will protect from the Kraken. Here’s what he had for Edmonton…

Protection Scheme: 8/1

Skaters (8)

D Ethan Bear
Leon Draisaitl
Caleb Jones
Oscar Klefbom
Connor McDavid
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (UFA 2021)
Darnell Nurse
Kailer Yamamoto

Goaltender (1)

Mikko Koskinen/TBA

Some notes…

  • Edmonton won’t have to protect top prospects Evan Bouchard, Philip Broberg, or whoever they decide to draft with the No. 14 overall pick this year, which is a positive.
  • Getting rid of Milan Lucic in favour of James Neal has the added benefit of not being forced to protect Lucic due to his no-movement clause. Thanks again, Calgary.
  • Mikko Koskinen doesn’t have a no-move clause. That means the Oilers can dangle the benefit of a no-move clause on whichever UFA goalie they’re courting this off-season. Obviously, goalies are going to be skeptical of signing multi-year deals without no-move protection from Seattle, so that could be an advantage for the Oilers.
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Seravalli has the Oilers going with the eight skaters method in order to help keep their strong group of defencemen intact, ultimately leaving names like Tyler Benson, Jesse Puljujarvi, Josh Archibald, James Neal, Zack Kassian, and any free agent inked to a multi-year deal this fall open for selection.

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I would mostly agree with the eight skaters strategy, given Edmonton’s strength on the roster right now is their wealth of quality defencemen, but I would change one thing.

Back in March, I suggested the Oilers wait until after the expansion draft to re-sign Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. That would allow the team to not have to protect him from Seattle because they surely wouldn’t pass up on taking a player like Benson to grab Nugent-Hopkins when he can walk as a free agent a couple of weeks later.

If the Oilers and Nugent-Hopkins have a handshake agreement for a new contract to be signed after the Expansion Draft, it’ll free up another protection spot for the Oilers to use, perhaps on Benson or maybe on Puljujarvi, depending on who has the better 2020-21 season.

What say you, Nation? How should the Oilers approach next summer’s Expansion Draft? How will it affect Ken Holland’s plans this fall?