With the NHL’s expansion draft for the Seattle Kraken in just over a week, teams are going to begin protecting players. Each NHL team besides Vegas must protect either seven forwards, three defenseman and a goalie or eight skaters and a goalie. Many teams have difficult decisions to make, do they protect their star veterans or their promising young players? Looking a the Bruins specifically, who will they protect?
There are several obvious choices for the Bruins when it comes to protecting forwards. Not only is it because these players are vital to Boston, but because they have No Movement Clauses. These forwards are Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and Charlie Coyle. Right away, that’s four of the seven forward spots taken.
David Krejci and Taylor Hall have been amongst the center of Bruins offseason discussion. The Bruins could protect both these players, but they are unrestricted free agents to be. Even with both players apparently wanting to stay in Boston, there’s a chance the Bruins protect these two and they both play somewhere else. If that were to happen, Boston could potentially lose a young forward to Seattle due to what was essentially a wasted protection.
Not protecting Hall and Krejci would allow the Bruins to protect forwards guaranteed to play for the team next season. Craig Smith would be the first choice, the veteran had a solid first season in Boston. Young forwards such as Trent Frederic and Jake DeBrusk would then most likely fill out the final two spots. Both these players have value to Boston. Even if DeBrusk’s play has been shaky, Boston most likely wouldn’t want to get nothing out of him if Seattle calls his number.
The decisions Boston has to make on their defenseman will likely be much easier than their forwards. Defenseman Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo and Matt Grzelcyk are solid young defenseman Boston can not afford to lose. These are the three defenseman Boston wants to build their defensive core around. Losing one of these three to the expansion draft would be detrimental. Boston may lose a different young defenseman to Seattle, but as long as it is not McAvoy, Carlo or Grzelcyk Boston will rest easy.
The goalie situation in Boston as the expansion draft looms is the most interesting. Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak are both free agents. Protecting them would create the same issues as protecting Hall or Krejci. Meanwhile, promising rookie, Jeremy Swayman, is exempt from the expansion draft due to NHL regulations.
The Bruins could protect Dan Vladar as their goalie. However, Vladar is not exactly the future goalie Boston has in mind. Rask has hinted that he wants to stay in Boston, but again protecting him would be a Hall/Krejci situation. However, the Bruins could still protect Rask almost as a gesture that they want him staying as their goalie. With no real threat of Boston’s future go-to goalie being taken, the Bruins could afford to make this token gesture.
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