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OilersNation Top 25 of 2020: #12 — Oilers Have Potential Issue for 2021 Seattle Expansion Draft

Welcome to the yearly wrap up of the top read articles over the last year!

Much like the 13th most-read piece this year, number 12 takes a look at the Oilers impending issues with the Seattle expansion draft.

Penned by Jason Gregor on July 8th, he dove into what’s ahead for the Oilers.

Oilers Have Potential Issue for 2021 Seattle Expansion Draft

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The expansion draft next for next season will work much like that of the Vegas draft. Seattle has to take 14 forwards, nine defencemen and three goalies reaching at least $48.9-million on the cap, as Gregor wrote.

Teams can go the eight skater route, or the seven forwards and three defenceman route.

In 2017, Edmonton chose to go the seven forward route and protected Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Milan Lucic, Zack Kassian, Patrick Maroon and Mark Letestu along with Oscar Klefbom, Andrej Sekera, Adam Larsson and Cam Talbot.

Here’s what Gregor wrote about who Edmonton may protect next year:

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It is difficult to accurately project who they will protect next year, due to trades etc, but based on today’s roster I see them protecting eight skaters due to the depth on the blueline.

They don’t have to protect Evan Bouchard, Philip Broberg or Ryan McLeod.

If they protect seven forwards, that means one of Ethan Bear, Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse or Caleb Jones will be exposed. I don’t see the Oilers doing that, considering their situation at forward.

So I would protect McDavid, Draisaitl, RNH (assuming he gets a new contract before the expansion draft), Kailer Yamamoto, Klefbom, Nurse, Bear, Jones and Mikko Koskinen.

Adam Larsson doesn’t have a contract and I don’t see the need to rush and re-sign him during the season. I doubt Seattle would draft him as a UFA, unless they are confident they can sign him.

Which means James Neal, Josh Archibald, Tyler Benson, Kassian, Khaira, Puljujarvi and Andreas Athanasiou (if he signs more than one season) will be exposed. Joakim Nygard and Gaetan Haas are UFAs at the end of next season and pending UFA Riley Sheahan currently doesn’t have a contract.

Stuart Skinner would qualify as a goalie who could be exposed.

The challenge for the Oilers is under this scenario they don’t have a defenceman who would qualify to be exposed. Kris Russell isn’t under contract for 2021/2022 and neither is Larsson or Matt Benning at the moment. So general manager Ken Holland will have to acquire a D-man this season or sign William Lagesson to a two-year extension this off-season and ensure he plays 40 games next season, or re-sign Benning or Larsson to an extension, or the Oilers protect seven forwards and expose one of Jones, Nurse, Klefbom or Bear. Most likely Jones.

I can’t see the latter coming to fruition, so I’d expect a signing or a trade to occur between now and next year’s trade deadline.

The Oilers are a much deeper team than they were in 2017, so they will lose a better player than they did to Vegas (Griffin Reinhart). Once Holland rectifies the blueliner issue, I sense the most likely candidates to be picked are Puljujarvi or Kassian. Benson would need a strong season in the NHL to be chosen ahead of those two, in my eyes.

Maybe Holland entices Seattle to claim Neal, by adding in a pick or a player, but seeing how that strategy backfired for teams in 2017, I’m not sure GMs will be as willing to sweeten the pot too much just to lose one player.

Who would you protect and why?

On Twitter: @zjlaing