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About the Expansion Draft

August 5, 2019, 12:12 PM ET [188 Comments]
Karine Hains
Montreal Canadiens Blogger • RSSArchiveCONTACT
While it's true that June 2021 still seems a fair way away, the general managers have learnt with the Vegas expansion draft that it pays to be prepared and think ahead. When the Knights got to form their line-up by picking a single player from each team, the Canadiens lost Alexei Emelin a left handed defenseman who had quite a sizeable contract. To be honest, I was overjoyed as I thought the cap room would allow the Habs to ink Alexander Radulov to a new deal and wasn't that big a fan of the man who was once called the "Russian Wrecking Ball". As we know though, even though Emelin had slowed down before his departure, losing both him and Markov in the same off season left a huge hole on the Habs blue line, a hole that Bergevin is still to this day trying to fix. Furthermore, the cap space created by Vegas' decision went unused much to many fans' dissatisfaction.

Now, as the hockey world contemplates yet another expansion draft, the Canadiens' front office must start thinking about what they will do come protection list time. In a nutshell, teams have two options when it comes to protecting players they can either protect 7 forwards, 3 d-men and 1 goaltender OR any combination of 8 skaters and one goalie. You read that right. Option A allows a team to protect 11 players while option B which gives more flexibility as to the position of the protected players only allows 9 of your players to be exempt. Just like in June 2017, a player that has got a no movement clause must be protected and some players are exempt such as all first and second year NHL players and all unsigned draft picks. Furthermore, the following conditions must be met by the players left unprotected:

* One defenseman who is a) under contract in 2021-22 and b) played in at least 40 NHL games the prior season or played in at least 70 NHL games in the prior two seasons.

* Two forwards who are a) under contract in 2021-22 and b) played at least 40 NHL games the prior season or played in at least 70 NHL games in the prior two seasons.

* One goalie who is under contract in 2021-22 or will be a restricted free agent at the end of his current contract immediately prior to 2021-22. If a team elects to make a restricted free agent goalie available to meet this requirement, that goalie must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the team's protected list.

* Players with potential career-ending injuries who have missed more than the previous 60 consecutive games (or who otherwise have been confirmed to have a career-threatening injury) may not be used to satisfy a team's player exposure requirements unless approval is received from the NHL. Such players also may be deemed exempt from selection.

So, where do this leave us with the Canadiens? Well, first, the good news! It means that Poehling, Suzuki, Primeau, Brook, Caufield and co. will not have to be protected. It also means that Carey Price will be the goaltender that Canadiens protect. I think the Canadiens could definitely benefit from going down route a and protecting 7 forwards, 3 d-men and the one goalie. As things stand today, these would be my choices (yes I know, some of the players' contracts will have expired by June 2021 but for our purposes, let's assume the Canadiens resign them - even though that might not happen). So, here goes, this is what my list would look like:

Goaltender: Carey Price (required on account of the NMC)

Defensemen: Victor Mete, Noah Juulsen (with the injury behind him, I'm confident the former 1st round pick will become an important piece of the Canadiens' blue line) and Jeff Petry. That's right, I'm not retaining Weber...by then he will be 35 years old and considering that speed and mobility REALLY were an issue at the end of the last season, I'd be more than willing to leave him exposed. Besides, he does carry a near $8 M in cap hit.

Forwards: Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Max Domi, Brendan Gallagher, Jonathan Drouin, Philip Danault, Tomas Tatar and Artturi Lehknonen

I'll admit it was a toss up between Armia and Lehkonen but Lehkonen is younger and I believe that Bergevin and Julien have high hopes for him. I'm leaving Byron exposed because you just can't protect everyone and some though choices unfortunately have to be made...further, he was injured quite a bit last year and who knows if his health will hold up...

So let me have it, what's wrong with my picks? Dont forget the list of players who do not have to be protected though, I am not leaving Poehling, Suzuki and co. exposed...
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