The Boston Bruins protect...
On Sunday the National Hockey League revealed all 31 teams protected list as the Seattle expansion draft quickly approaches.
With the Bruins, there were no real surprises as they have protected the following:
That leaves unprotected:
Players such as David Krejci, Taylor Hall and Tuukka Rask who are pending UFAs do not have to be protected. Seattle does get a short window where they can have conversations with pending UFAs and should they sign one, would count as their one expansion pick from Boston.
Now, with a sea full of talented hockey players, Seattle will have to decide if they want to take one of the Bruins young defensemen, or take a forward like Nick Ritchie who could provide some middle-six stability.
Ritchie spent much of the season to the left of David Krejci on the Bruins second line, and saw key minutes on the Bruins top power play unit. Ritchie is coming off a season that saw him net a career-high 15 goals, five of those on the man advantage.
Ritchie is currently an RFA with arbitration rights, making him an attractive option to Seattle.
The Bruins defensive depth proved to be their biggest issue in their series against the Islanders in the playoffs, struggling to handle the losses of Brandon Carlo and Kevan Miller.
My guess is the Bruins would prefer to lose Ritchie over one of Clifton, Lauzon and Zboril.
Of those three, Clifton has the most NHL experience and comes with a nice cap hit of $1M. Clifton was very solid in the playoffs last year, stepping in after the losses of Carlo and Miller.
Lauzon was solid at times, getting a healthy look on the top pairing alongside Charlie McAvoy. Overall it was a season of ups and downs for Lazuon with some growing pains more painful than others.
I would think Zboril would be at the bottom of Seattle’s list of desired Bruins’ defensemen. That former first-round draft pick has failed to make much of an impact to date.