On July 21, the Seattle Kraken will select one player from each team except Vegas in the NHL Expansion Draft. The 30 teams are able to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie. They also have the option to protect eight skaters and one goalie. However, there are a few conditions that need to be met.
Players with no move clauses who opt to not waive these rights need to be protected. On top of that, most players on entry-level contracts and unsigned draft picks will be exempt from selection. Plus, players who don’t meet the minimum number of games played will be exempt.
Teams will need to expose one defenseman and two forwards who are under contract and meet the required number of games played. Teams will also have the option to expose one goalie who is under contract for this upcoming season or one who will be a restricted free agent once their contract is up.
The Protected Forwards
The thing about the Columbus Blue Jackets for this expansion draft is they don’t have many players that they can’t protect. This is very beneficial for them, so they don’t lose a star player in the expansion draft.
Columbus’ core of veteran players like Cam Atkinson, Gus Nyquist and Boone Jenner will probably be protected. Other forwards that are likely to be protected are Patrik Laine, Oliver Bjorkstrand, Max Domi and Jack Roslovic since they are still in their prime years as players. Because they’ll choose to protect seven forwards, Columbus will go with the protection method of 7-3-1.
Now, Patrik Laine doesn’t technically need to be protected since he is not under contract for this upcoming season. Columbus may opt to protect him to expose another forward to meet the required number of exposed players. For the same reason as Laine, Alexandre Texier is not eligible for exposure because he is not under contract.
The Protected Defensemen
Since Columbus is protecting seven forwards, that means they will protect three defensemen. This is a no-brainer for them as they’ll choose to protect their top three defensemen. Despite the recent issues for not wanting to sign an extension, Columbus will opt to protect Jones with the intent to trade him later on. The other two defensemen that they will likely protect are Vladislav Gavrikov and Zach Werenski.
Michael Del Zotto, Mikko Lehtonen and Andrew Peeke don’t need to be protected because they’re not under contract for this upcoming season.
The Protected Goalie
Of the three goalies on Columbus’ roster, Elvis Merzlikins is the only one who is ineligible to be selected. That is due to Merzlikins not playing the required number of games yet. That makes Columbus’ job a lot easier as they’ll opt to protect Joonas Korpisalo. The only other goaltender on their roster is Cam Johnson who is currently unsigned.
Of the unprotected players for Columbus, they don’t leave any star players unprotected. The players they do leave unprotected are still reasonable options for Seattle as they are all young and still in their primes.
Some of the players exposed include Dean Kukan, Kevin Stenlund and Eric Robinson. All three are solid players at their respective positions and haven’t quite found much consistent play as a Columbus Blue Jacket. Ideally, Columbus would like to not lose Stenlund or Robinson to the expansion draft because of their depth at defense. Not losing Kukan would make the defense even stronger.
Whichever direction Seattle chooses to go in with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Columbus will be huge winners in the expansion draft. Their core and youth will all be protected under the expansion draft rules. That means they shouldn’t lose any star players this time around.
Cover Image Courtesy of theathletic.com