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Frank Seravalli

TSN Senior Hockey Reporter

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Later this month, the Seattle Kraken are scheduled to make the final payment on their $650 million expansion fee, officially earning the mysterious sea creature a seat at the table as the National Hockey League’s 32nd club.

Earlier in April, the passing of the NHL’s trade deadline created one of the final redistributions of players around the league, crystallizing the Expansion Draft lists of some teams.

There will be one more round of changes coming in the days ahead of the Expansion Draft, scheduled for July 21. That will include any trades or last-minute signings that occur between now and the beginning of the off-season.

Of course, at this point, teams would prefer to put any sort of verbal agreements with pending free agents “in the drawer,” and make them official after the Expansion Draft so they will not require protection. But the Kraken will have an exclusive, three-day window July 18-21 to negotiate with pending free agents that could shake things up.

Most of Canada’s seven clubs are well-positioned to escape expansion with their roster relatively unscathed.  

With exactly 90 days to go until the Expansion Draft, here is a look at each Canadian team’s projected protection list and a selection of players who could be exposed.

 

CALGARY FLAMES

Protection Scheme: 7/3/1

Forwards (7)

Dillon Dube
Johnny Gaudreau
Glenn Gawdin (RFA)
Elias Lindholm
Andrew Mangiapane
Sean Monahan
Matthew Tkachuk

Defence (3)

Rasmus Andersson
Noah Hanifin
Chris Tanev

Goaltender (1)

Jacob Markstrom

Potentially Exposed Players

F Mikael Backlund
F Milan Lucic (NMC)
D Mark Giordano
G Tyler Parsons

Talking Points

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Giordano is the Flames' leader, but will be 38.

- Our understanding is that Lucic agreed to waive his no-move clause for Expansion Draft purposes as a condition on his trade from Edmonton, which means he will not need to be protected.

- Giordano has meant so much to the Flames organization. That is unquestioned. But he turns 38 before the Kraken hit the ice, making Andersson, Hanifin and Tanev the prudent protected defencemen.

- Gawdin is representative of any one of the forwards the Flames could protect with their seventh and final spot.

What To Watch For

- How will the roster reconstructive surgery – think Gaudreau and Monahan – expected to take place this off-season shake up the Flames’ expansion list?

 

EDMONTON OILERS

Protection Scheme: 7/3/1

Forwards (7)

Josh Archibald

Leon Draisaitl
Zach Kassian
Connor McDavid
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (UFA)
Jesse Puljujarvi
Kailer Yamamoto

Defence (3)

Ethan Bear
Caleb Jones
Darnell Nurse

Goaltender (1)

Stuart Skinner

Potentially Exposed Players

F James Neal
F Kyle Turris
F Tyler Benson
D Tyson Barrie (UFA)
D Oscar Klefbom
D Adam Larsson (UFA)
G Mikko Koskinen
G Mike Smith (UFA)

Talking Points

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Klefbom still recovering from shoulder surgery.

- Clarity on Klefbom’s shoulder injury, as he diligently rehabs for an October return, will be valuable intelligence as the Oilers sort out their protection list.

- Neal may well be heading for a buyout this off-season. Can the Oilers instead convince Seattle – or another team wielding cap space as an asset – to take on Neal’s and/or Koskinen’s contract?

- Benson fits the mold of a player Vegas would have selected in 2017. His offensive AHL output is comparable to Golden Knights mainstay Tomas Nosek, plucked then from Detroit. Will Seattle follow suit?

- Unless Smith is re-signed before the Expansion Draft, look for Skinner – the 71st ranked NHL affiliated prospect by TSN’s Craig Button – to be protected over Alex Stalock.

What To Watch For

- How will pending free agents Nugent-Hopkins and Larsson factor into expansion? Larsson would bump Jones. Right now, the bet is on both to re-sign, with RNH putting pen to paper before Seattle’s exclusive negotiating window opens to free agents on July 18.

 

MONTREAL CANADIENS

Protection Scheme: 7/3/1

Forwards (7)

Josh Anderson
Jonathan Drouin
Jake Evans
Brendan Gallagher (NMC)
Jesperi Kotkaniemi
Artturi Lehkonen (RFA)
Tyler Toffoli

Defence (3)

Joel Edmundson
Jeff Petry (NMC)
Shea Weber

Goaltender (1)

Carey Price (NMC)

Potentially Exposed Players

F Joel Armia (UFA)
F Paul Byron
F Philip Danault (UFA)
F Tomas Tatar (UFA)
D Ben Chiarot
G Jake Allen

Talking Points

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Weber's contract makes him unlikely for Seattle. 

- Is it at all possible the Canadiens opt to expose Weber? It seems unlikely, especially given GM Marc Bergevin’s affinity for Man Mountain, but his contract runs through his 40th birthday and has cap recapture penalties, both limiting factors for an expansion franchise. Exposing Weber would allow the Habs to protect Chiarot.

- Montreal will need to sign one forward (Armia?) to meet the exposure requirements.

- If the Canadiens plan to re-sign other free agents, such as Danault or Tatar, it makes little sense to do it prior to the Expansion Draft.

What To Watch For

- Will Bergevin make a trade with Seattle to keep Allen in tandem with Price? Allen is signed to a team-friendly, two-year extension that kicks in next season, which makes him prime for plucking.

 

OTTAWA SENATORS

Protection Scheme: 7/3/1

Forwards (7)

Drake Batherson
Connor Brown
Logan Brown
Nick Paul
Chris Tierney
Brady Tkachuk
Colin White

Defence (3)

Thomas Chabot
Victor Mete (RFA)
Nikita Zaitsev

Goaltender (1)

Filip Gustavsson

Potentially Exposed Players

F Evgeni Dadonov
F Austin Watson
D Josh Brown
G Joey Daccord
G Matt Murray

Talking Points

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Joey Daccord could be left exposed for Seattle.

- The Senators are easily Canada’s most protected team heading into the Expansion Draft. Almost all of GM Pierre Dorion’s prized prospects (Tim Stutzle, Josh Norris, Erik Brannstrom and Shane Pinto chief among them) are exempt from selection.

- There is a decision to make in goal: Gustavsson or Daccord? Gustavsson’s pedigree would seem to make him the leading candidate to protect.

- Re-signing Mete would make him or Josh Brown interchangeable as Ottawa’s exposure requirement on defence. 

What To Watch For

- Nothing to see here, move along.

 

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

Protection Scheme: 8/1

Forwards (4)

Mitch Marner
Auston Matthews
William Nylander
John Tavares (NMC)

Defence (4)

T.J. Brodie
Justin Holl
Jake Muzzin
Morgan Rielly

Goaltender (1)

Jack Campbell

Potentially Exposed Players

F Pierre Engvall
F Nick Foligno
F Zach Hyman (UFA)
F Alex Kerfoot
D Zach Bogosian (UFA)
D Travis Dermott
G Frederik Andersen (UFA)
G David Rittich (UFA)

Talking Points

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Travis Dermott could be the odd man out on D.

- The Maple Leafs enter the Expansion Draft window with the expectation that defenceman Dermott is the likely Kraken target. 

- Toronto could well become the only Canadian club to use the eight-skater, one-goaltender protection scheme.

What To Watch For

- How will Toronto’s quest to keep Hyman factor into the Expansion Draft? They plan to do everything in their power to prevent Hyman from hitting the market, but re-signing him before July 21 would likely force the Leafs to change to the 7/3/1 scheme, also exposing one of defencemen Brodie, Muzzin or Holl.

 

VANCOUVER CANUCKS

Protection Scheme: 7/3/1

Forwards (7)

Brock Boeser
Bo Horvat
Kole Lind
J.T. Miller
Tyler Motte
Tanner Pearson
Elias Pettersson

Defence (3)

Olli Juolevi
Tyler Myers
Nate Schmidt

Goaltender (1)

Thatcher Demko

Potentially Exposed Players

F Jay Beagle
F Loui Eriksson
F Jake Virtanen
F Antoine Roussel
D Madison Bowey
D Jalen Chatfield
D Alex Edler (UFA)
D Brogan Rafferty
G Braden Holtby

Talking Points

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Could Holtby head across the border to Seattle?

- Trading for Bowey at the deadline gave Vancouver a defenceman under contract who meets the exposure requirements.

- The Canucks don’t seem to be a team that has an appetite to make a trade to prevent Seattle from selecting any particular player. The only play might be to ply Ron Francis with a pick in return for taking a tough contract for a year.

What To Watch For

- With Demko locked up long term, is Holtby destined for relocation in the Pacific Northwest? Holtby has Stanley Cup pedigree, a manageable contract, and his compete level in two wins against the Maple Leafs after the coronavirus-ravaged the Canucks showed he has plenty of game left.

 

WINNIPEG JETS

Protection Scheme: 7/3/1

Forwards (7)

Kyle Connor
Andrew Copp (RFA)
Pierre-Luc Dubois
Nikolaj Ehlers
Adam Lowry
Mark Scheifele
Blake Wheeler (NMC)

Defence (3)

Dylan DeMelo
Josh Morrissey
Neal Pionk

Goaltender (1)

Connor Hellebuyck

Potentially Exposed Players

F Mason Appleton
F Jansen Harkins
D Nathan Beaulieu
D Logan Stanley
G Eric Comrie

Talking Points

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Jansen Harkins could meet Seattle's needs. 

- Expect Harkins to skate in four more games by the end of the regular season to give the Jets their second and final forward who meets the exposure requirement.

- Re-signing Lowry to a five-year extension after the trade deadline provided additional clarity to the Jets’ list, if there were any concern that he would hit the market.

- The Jets were interested in a rental defenceman at the deadline to keep their Expansion Draft list clean cut. But if Winnipeg wants to beef up its blueline this offseason via trade before July 21, it would appear DeMelo would be the odd man out.

What To Watch For

- Appleton is the most intriguing player potentially available from a Canadian club. He is on pace for 17 goals and 40 points in his breakout season on Winnipeg’s productive third line. The Jets got themselves into trouble in 2017 maneuvering to protect Toby Enstrom, swapping first-round picks with Vegas. That resulted in the team drafting Kristian Vesalainen at No. 24 instead of a player such as Nick Suzuki with the No. 13 pick.

 

EXPANSION DRAFT RULES

- Teams may protect either seven forwards, three defencemen and one goaltender - OR - eight skaters (regardless of position) and one goaltender.

- Two forwards and one defenceman must be left exposed by each team who are all under contract for 2021-22 and meet the games played requirements for 2020-21. Also, each team must expose a goaltender under contract in 2021-22 or who is an RFA.

- All players who have accrued two or less pro seasons by the end of 2020-21, as well as unsigned draft picks, will be exempt from the Expansion Draft.

- Players with no-move contracts MUST be protected unless the player waives his clause.

Contact Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @frank_seravalli​