We are 11 days away from teams submitting their protected lists for the 2021 expansion draft. Some teams’ protected lists seem very straightforward, while others will be exposing some quality players. Will teams just accept they will lose one good player and more on, or will they be open to trade a player rather than lose him for nothing?
On the DailyFaceoff Podcast we had Ryan Clark join us to discuss Seattle’s strategy, and in the process, some interesting names popped up.
I’ve heard some rumblings that Ryan McDonagh might be left unprotected.
Tampa Bay already has $86.566m committed to 19 players next season. They need to shed salary and sign players.
Right now it seems likely they will protect four forwards, four D-men and one goalie. They will protect Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos, Brayden Point, and Anthony Cirelli up front and Andrei Vasilevskiy in goal and Victor Hedman, Mikhail Sergachev and Erik Cernak on defence. If they protect McDonagh then Cal Foote is exposed. They are really high on the young defender, and they have a lot of cap certainty with him moving forward. He is an RFA with no arbitration rights.
McDonagh makes $6.75m for five more seasons. He turned 32 last month. He will be 36 for the final year of his deal. He and Cernak face many of the tough matchups for Tampa. In his 11 NHL seasons McDonagh has never had GF% below 52%. He only had one season where his xGF% was below 50%. He has been a very good defender for a long time.
His offence has dropped a lot the past two seasons, but I think that is more due to how he is deployed and his lack of PP time. He is simply a really good defenceman who skates well and can move the puck.
Tampa Bay needs to shed salary, and from a pure cap scenario, they’d rather lose McDonagh than Foote to Seattle. They will need to move one, and likely two of Tyler Johnson, Yanni Gourde, Alex Killorn and Ondrej Palat to be cap compliant next season. It will be a challenge to get fair market value in return for those players in a trade, simply because the other 31 teams know Tampa has to shed salary.
McDonagh has a no-trade clause. He would have to agree to a trade, although Seattle could claim in the expansion draft since he doesn’t have a no-move clause. He’s never played in the west, so he likely isn’t keen on coming here, but if you are Ken Holland or any other GM with cap space and a need for a very good left defender you have to at least see what McDonagh and the Lightning are thinking.
The Hurricanes are in a tough spot. Dougie Hamilton has yet to re-sign and if he doesn’t they will lose one of their top defenders. Would they risk exposing Brady Skjei or Jake Bean and losing two of their top-six defenders from last season?
If they opt to protect Skjei and Bean, along with Brett Pesce and Jaccob Slavin, then they can only protect four forwards. That seems unlikely with Sebastian Aho, Jordan Staal (NMC), Teuvo Teravainen, Martin Necas, Vincent Trocheck, Andrei Svechnikov and Nino Niederreiter to protect.
Don Waddell would prefer to protect 7-3-1 and then trade one of Skjei or Bean and at least get a player or draft pick in return rather than lose a good player for nothing? Waddell is in a different position than Lighting GM Julien Brisebois who has to clear salary. Waddell could take a solid player back in return rather than lose one for nothing.
Maybe Waddell just elects to expose Bean, as Skjei is more proven at this point and played the second most 5×5 minutes for the Hurricanes in the playoffs. He is only 27 and if the Hurricanes are even considering moving him, then it is worth a phone call.
Erik Karlsson and Marc-Edouard Vlasic have NMC. Even if Vlasic waives his NMC, I doubt Seattle claims him as he has a $7m AAV for five more seasons. We heard rumblings about Brent Burns being available for the past few months. Burns is 36 and has four years left with an $8m AAV.
Even if Vlasic waives his NMC, the Sharks might still expose Burns as they opt to protect Radim Simek and Mario Ferraro with Karlsson.
There is risk there for sure, but Burns was still effective in San Jose despite some shoddy goaltending behind him. If the Sharks retain some salary would you be interested in Burns?
OTHER POTENTIAL OPTIONS…
If St. Louis opts to protect seven forwards, then they expose Vince Dunn and Marco Scandella. If they go the 4-4-1 option, then one of Dunn or Scandella is still exposed. I’m not sold on either being top-four defenders regularly, but with Edmonton being so shallow on LD, they might be options.
Minnesota likely has to expose one or both of Matt Dumba and Carson Soucy. Soucy at $2.75m for two seasons isn’t expensive, although his possession numbers weren’t great this season, but were better in 2020.
Will Colorado protect five D-men? They have Cale Makar, Erik Johnson, Devon Toews, Samuel Girard, and Ryan Graves available. They could protect them along with Nathan MacKinnon, Mikko Rantanen and Nazem Kadri. It would leave captain and UFA Gabriel Landeskog available, but is he going to sign in Seattle instead of staying in Colorado when they are a legit Cup contender? I doubt it, even if the Kraken offer him a massive overpay. It would also leave Andre Burakovsky and Tyson Jost exposed.
If it was me, I’d expose Graves over Burakovsky. Colorado has Bowen Byram, Connor Timmins and Justin Barron in the system.
Joe Sakic might just want Graves claimed to free up $3.9m in cap space.
The Oilers have had discussions with Chicago, and Duncan Keith, about a trade, but that doesn’t mean he is the only option. Interested and desperate are very different. The trade market will heat up over the next few weeks and there are many defenceman options to consider outside of Keith.
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