With the 2020-21 regular season and Stanley Cup Playoffs in the rearview mirror, the 31 NHL clubs are prepping for the NHL Draft and the start of free agency later this month, but first will have to submit protection lists for the Seattle expansion draft on July 21.
A number of factors will go into who teams will protect, including players that have to be sheltered due to their no-movement clauses and those that might be exposed because of a side agreement made between a team and Seattle GM Ron Francis.
There is no way to know if those understandings have been made until the protection lists have been submitted to the league on Saturday, so we will take a look at who each team may lose based on which players are protected.
Here are the likely Pacific Division protection lists and who could be exposed:
Protection Projection – Forwards(7) – Jakob Silfverberg, Rickard Rakell, Danton Heinen, Troy Terry, Isac Lundestrom, Sam Steel, Alexander Volkov
Defense(3) – Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson
Goalie(1) – John Gibson
Exposed – Adam Henrique, Max Jones, Haydn Fleury, Jacob Larsson
The Ducks may expose Henrique with three remaining years at nearly $6 million AAV to protect one of their younger players, but could still lose a former first rounder in Fleury (selected by Ron Francis in Carolina) or the 24-year-old Larsson.
Protection Projection – Forwards(7) – Matthew Tkachuk, Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund, Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane, Dillon Dube
Defense(3) – Noah Hanifin, Rasmus Andersson, Chris Tanev
Goalie(1) – Jacob Markstrom(NMC)
Exposed – Mark Giordano, Oliver Kylington, Milan Lucic
The 37-year-old Giordano could be one of the prizes of the expansion draft for the Kraken, either as a veteran leader to show some of their youngsters how to play or as someone that they can flip to a contender with one year remaining on his contract.
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Protection Projection – Forwards(7) – Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Zack Kassian, Jujhar Khaira, Jesse Puljujarvi, Kailer Yamamoto
Defense(3) – Darnell Nurse, Duncan Keith(NMC), Ethan Bear.
Goalie(1) – Alex Stalock
Exposed – James Neal, Oscar Klefbom, Mikko Koskinen
Oliers GM Ken Holland is praying that Francis selects the mediocre Koskinen before he has to buyout the final year of his deal. Klefbom’s questionable future because of an injury makes it likely that he is exposed and passed over by Seattle.
Los Angeles Kings
Protection Projection – Forwards(7) – Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Viktor Arvidsson, Alex Iafallo, Adrian Kempe, Trevor Moore, Carl Grundstrom
Defense(3) – Drew Doughty(NMC), Sean Walker, Kale Clague
Goalie(1) – Cal Petersen
Exposed – Brendan Lemieux, Olli Maatta, Jonathan Quick
The Kings have the benefit of a large number of young forwards who are exempt, but still could lose a prospect like former Rangers first rounder Lias Andersson. Maatta with one year remaining could be exposed and GM Rob Blake has to protect young goalie Petersen over the once-great Quick.
San Jose Sharks
Protection Projection – Forwards(7) – Logan Couture, Evander Kane, Timo Meier, Tomas Hertl, Kevin Labanc, Ryan Donato, Dylan Gambrell
Defense(3) – Erik Karlsson(NMC), Brent Burns, Mark-Edouard Vlasic
Goalie(1) – Adin Hill
Exposed – Marcus Sorensen, Radim Simek, Martin Jones
A deal made just before Saturday’s trade freeze brought Hill to the Sharks from Arizona, which appears to be for the purpose of exposing the declining Martin Jones, who has three more years left at $5.75 million.
Protection Projection – Forwards(7) – Brock Boeser, Bo Horvat, JT Miller, Tanner Pearson, Jake Virtanen, Jason Dickinson, Elias Pettersson
Defense(3) – Tyler Myers, Nate Schmidt, Olli Juolevi
Goalie(1) – Thatcher Demko
Exposed – Kole Lind, Braden Holtby
The Canucks are in a position of having to protect players that may be traded (Virtanen, Schmidt) in the next few weeks. Holtby with one year left at $4.3 million is one of the more attractive goalies available to Seattle, either as someone to provide them experience between the pipes or who could be flipped to an established club in need of goaltending help.