The last time there was an Expansion Draft, the Oilers got by fairly easily, losing Griffin Reinhart to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Edmonton was fortunate to have key players in Connor McDavid and Darnell Nurse exempt from being selected by Vegas back in 2017 because they were on entry-level deals. Things won’t be quite so simple this time around.
Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (UFA), James Neal, Zack Kassian, Alex Chiasson (UFA), Kyle Turris, Josh Archibald, Jujhar Khaira, Jesse Puljujarvi, Tyler Ennis (UFA), Dominik Kahun (RFA), Cooper Marody (RFA), Kailer Yamamoto (RFA), Devin Shore (RFA), Tyler Benson (RFA), Seth Griffith, Alan Quine (UFA), Joe Gambardella (UFA), Patrick Russell (UFA), Adam Cracknell (UFA).
Darnell Nurse, Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson (UFA), Kris Russell, Tyson Barrie (UFA), Ethan Bear, Dmitry Kulikov (UFA), Caleb Jones, Slater Koekkoek (UFA), William Lagesson.
Mikko Koskinen, Mike Smith (UFA), Alex Stalock, Stuart Skinner (RFA), Dylan Wells (RFA).
Last week, I took a look at the upcoming Expansion Draft and wondered if the Oilers would opt to use the eight-skater protection scheme in order to prioritize protecting four defenders. According to The Athletic’s Daniel Nugent-Bowman, it appears Edmonton will use the standard 7-3-1 protection scheme.
“The Oilers were thought to be leaning toward protecting eight skaters and a goalie a few weeks ago. They will almost certainly go the 7-3-1 route now. I’m told by a team source who has knowledge of the current protection plans that the only way they’ll revert to an eight-skater plan is if pending UFA defencemen Adam Larsson and Tyson Barrie are re-signed ahead of the expansion draft. That seems unlikely.”
My thinking was that Edmonton has more talented players on the blueline, so the eight-skater method made sense. That would allow them to protect McDavid, Draisaitl, Puljujarvi, Yamamoto, Nurse, Bear, Klefbom, and Jones or Lagesson. But, based on Nugent-Bowman’s information, it appears they’re instead focused on protecting more forwards.
McDavid, Draisaitl, Puljujarvi, Yamamoto are obviously going to be four of them, so the remaining three could be any of Kassian, Archibald, Khaira, Kahun, Marody, or Benson. I can’t imagine that Neal or Turris are going to be protected. Nurse and Bear would be the two obvious defenders to protect while the team would have to decide between exposing Klefbom or Jones.
What say you, Nation? Who should the Oilers be prioritizing? Is it the right choice to allow Seattle to grab a young defender like Caleb Jones in order to protect depth forwards?