Who the Canucks could expose and protect in the Seattle expansion draft

Oct 23 2020, 1:43 pm

The Vancouver Canucks appear to have completed most of their offseason business, following the re-signing of Jake Virtanen on Thursday.

There will surely be more tinkering to come, as the team is currently above the salary cap. That could come in the form of a trade, a buyout of Brandon Sutter’s contract, or perhaps LTIR relief if concussion-related issues prevent Micheal Ferland from playing.

Regardless, we’ve now got a clearer picture of how the Canucks will set up in advance of the Seattle Kraken expansion draft, which will take place after the completion of next season.

The same expansion draft rules will apply to the NHL’s 32nd franchise that the Vegas Golden Knights feasted on three years ago. Seattle will select one player from every team, except the Golden Knights, who are laughably exempt from the process as a still relatively new franchise.

Seattle must select 14 forwards, nine defencemen, and three goalies. The Kraken must choose a minimum of 20 players under contract for the 2021-22 season, with contract values totalling between 60-100% of the upper limit of the salary cap.

The other 30 teams will have two options for protecting players, with most teams (including the Canucks) likely opting to protect seven forwards, three defencemen, and one goalie. The other option is to protect eight skaters (any combination of forwards and defencemen) and one goalie.

First- and second-year pro players, plus all unsigned draft choices are exempt from selection.

Forwards

Unlike the last expansion draft, the Canucks won’t be forced into protecting any players due to no-movement clauses. Alex Edler and Ferland each have NMCs in their contracts, but both have exceptions in their deals that allows Vancouver to expose them.

Six of the Canucks’ seven protection spots seem obvious, with the last spot more wide open.

I’ve slotted in Kole Lind into the seventh spot for now, though if the 22-year-old has a lacklustre season, he could get exposed. If they give up on Lind, Tyler Motte is an option, given that the 25-year-old is only scheduled to make $1.225 million in 2021-22.

Tanner Pearson would make sense to protect, but only if he signs a contract extension. He’s currently scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after the season.

Players like Loui Eriksson, Antoine Roussel, Jay Beagle, and Ferland make sense to expose given their onerous contracts. If Ferland’s injury is considered “career-ending,” he’ll be exempt from the process.

Protect:

  1. Elias Pettersson
  2. Bo Horvat
  3. Brock Boeser
  4. J.T. Miller
  5. Jake Virtanen
  6. Adam Gaudette
  7. Kole Lind

Expose:

  • Tyler Motte
  • Zack MacEwen
  • Antoine Roussel
  • Jay Beagle
  • Loui Eriksson
  • Micheal Ferland
  • Brandon Sutter (UFA)
  • Tanner Pearson (UFA)
  • Sven Baertschi (UFA)

Exempt: 

  • Nils Hoglander
  • Vasily Podkolzin

Defencemen

Nate Schmidt and Tyler Myers will be protected, but the third spot less clear.

Luckily, Quinn Hughes is exempt, due to the fact that he appeared in just five NHL games in 2018-19, so he will be considered a second-year player after next season. Also exempt are Brogan Rafferty, Jack Rathbone, and Jett Woo.

For now, let’s give the last spot to Olli Juolevi, the Canucks’ first-round pick from the 2016 draft. That could change, depending how his season plays out, but currently there aren’t many options otherwise given that Edler and Jordie Benn are pending unrestricted free agents.

The Canucks should be in prime position to trade for a defenceman next offseason, from a team that has to expose a good blueliner. Perhaps Juolevi is left exposed to compensate for that, or maybe Vancouver risks losing Myers, betting that Seattle would steer clear of his $6 million contract that doesn’t expire until 2024.

Protect:

  1. Nate Schmidt
  2. Tyler Myers
  3. Olli Juolevi

Expose:

  • Alex Edler (UFA)
  • Jordie Benn (UFA)

Exempt:

  • Quinn Hughes
  • Brogan Rafferty
  • Jack Rathbone
  • Jett Woo

Goaltenders

The goaltending situation is crystal clear. Barring something unforeseen, Thatcher Demko will be protected, leaving Braden Holtby exposed, due to the six-year age gap between the two netminders. Michael DiPietro, meanwhile, has only one pro season under his belt, so he is exempt.

Protect:

  1. Thatcher Demko

Expose:

  • Braden Holtby

Exempt:

  • Michael DiPietro
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