It will be a busy week for NHL GMs in late June. The Las Vegas Expansion Draft takes place on June 21, a Wednesday. The NHL Entry Draft is two days later on the Friday and Saturday. I wanted to get a pretty good picture of which players will be available, which ones will be protected, and what kind of team the Las Vegas Golden Knights could put together. The best way to do that is to do my own Mock Expansion Draft using the tools provided by Cap Friendly.
Using the Cap Friendly tool and ‘forcing’ the protected lists (it’s a button you select), I then made the following adjustments. If a team isn’t noted, then it’s because the default protected list is obvious and no changes are worth considering.
ANA – I protect under the 7-3-1 rule rather than the 8-1 rule. Which means I choose to protect Jakob Silfverberg (plus Andrew Cogliano and Antoine Vermette as a bonus) rather than Sami Vatanen. Silfverberg is far too important to this team.
ARI – Here I protect under the 8-1 rule, because Arizona does not have a lot of forwards worth protecting. I also choose Mike Smith over Louis Domingue – Domingue is not that good. They can find another Domingue in their system pretty easily.
CAR – For some reason, the default didn't have Justin Faulk protected. That's obviously a no-brainer, protect him over Klas Dahlbeck.
COL – They have to keep four defensemen, which means they can only protect four forwards. But they’ll be happy to lose Carl Soderberg or Joe Colborne so that’s fine. They protect Mikhail Grigorenko over Sven Andrighetto or Matt Nieto.
DAL – I chose to protect Valeri Nichushkin over Brett Ritchie. I would consider protecting Ritchie over Cody Eakin, Radek Faksa or Antoine Roussel – but I picked Ritchie as the exposure. I chose Stephen Johns over Dan Hamhuis. The Stars would probably welcome freeing up the Hamhuis cap space. You protect Antti Niemi here because maybe you get lucky and lose the albatross Kari Lehtonen contract.
FLA – I protect Colton Sceviour over Reilly Smith because I’d be happy to get that $5 million cap hit off the books. I protect Alex Petrovic over Mark Pysyk – homegrown, drafted talent is usually favored over trade-acquired players. And you protect the younger, cheaper goaltender in James Reimer.
MTL – The default had Alexander Radulov protected, but that’s not right. He’s not signed for next season and is unrestricted. I don’t see why a team would sign any player before the Expansion Draft because unsigned it will be as if he is a ‘freebie’ protected player. So I protect Tomas Plekanec instead.
NSH & NJD – They have to use the 8-1 rule instead of the 7-3-1 rule because four defensemen simply must be protected here.
OTT – I agree with leaving Bobby Ryan unprotected given his huge cap hit.
PIT – At this point you leave Matt Murray unprotected because you have to. But the Penguins will obviously make a move in June involving Marc-Andre Fleury. They will not have Murray exposed. So I will consider Murray protected (100% guarantee) and not include him in the expansion draft. I also expose Carl Hagelin, Bryan Rust and Patric Hornqvist – just so that I can protect Brian Dumoulin (switching to 8-1 instead of 7-3-1).
TBL – I protect Slater Koekkoek over Andrej Sustr.
WPG – I agree that Winnipeg will need to use the 8-1 protection system because those four defensemen need to be protected.
And so, without further ado, here is the Dobber expansion team:
Micheal Ferland Brouwer (CGY) Carl Soderberg (COL) Iiro Pakarinen (EDM)
Marko Dano (WPG)
Markus Granlund (VAN)Gaunce
Ville Pokka (CHI) Ryan Pulock (NYI)
Linus Arnesson (BOS) Jamie Oleksiak (DAL)
Martin Marincin (TOR)
Jimmy Howard (DET)
Antti Raanta (NYR)
Philipp Grubauer (WSH)
Anton Forsberg (CBJ)
You can analyze this lineup deeper at the Cap Friendly website here. Under this scenario, Zucker, Namestnikov and Vatanen stand the best chance the truly flourish. Ryan and Wilson have great opportunities to bounce back, while Yakupov gets a bit of a lifeline. One last chance for him. If the Golden Knights fail to trade a goalie, then this would about put the nail in Forsberg’s career coffin.
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NOTE: A mistake was already pointed out to me in that the default protection for Carolina had Nestrasil. I would protect McGinn over Nestrasil. Which means Vegas can't take McGinn. If I had to choose whether to take Nordstrom, Nestrasil or Stempniak – I would take none of the above, and instead choose a prospect goaltender such as Daniel Altshuller. Give him two years on the farm and see if he turns into something. It would be better than a borderline or veteran forward.
NOTE II: If the Canucks protect Granlund over Gaunce (which in hindsight, I believe is what they will do) then Vegas will select Gaunce.
NOTE III: Sigh. Upon yet another review, the Flames will protect Ferland and leave Brouwer exposed. They would take Brouwer over Shinkaruk I'm sure.
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