When the new NHL realignment was announced, the first thing people noticed was the unbalanced nature of the Eastern and Western Conferences. The East had 16 teams, and the West had 14 teams. This led to two different mindsets: 1) The NHL was bound to go through realignment again if/when the Coyotes moved (they aren’t), and 2) The NHL is going to expand to 32 teams.
Without getting into the discussion of whether or not the NHL should expand (Suit laid out possible destinations in two separate posts), it’s still a realistic scenario that could come to fruition should the stars align for the NHL and possible markets. If this scenario occurs, then there will be an expansion draft. It’s a slow summer, so I figured it would be fun to go into a hypothetical “expansion draft at the end of next season” post.
Let’s assume that any future expansion draft will follow the same rules as the 2000 expansion draft. Each team is allowed to protect either one goalie, five defensemen, and nine forwards, or, two goalies, three defensemen, and seven forwards. At least one defenseman left unprotected must have played 40 games last season or 70 games in the last two seasons. Two forwards must meet the same requirements. All first and second year pros (including AHL players) and unsigned rookies are exempt (JT Miller is exempt, Chris Kreider is not). All players on ELCs that will slide (Troy Donnay) are exempt as well.
Using the current NHL/AHL roster, the following players are not exempt from the waiver draft (I believe this is accurate, please correct me if I’m wrong):
Forwards: Rick Nash, Brad Richards, Ryan Callahan, Derick Brassard, Carl Hagelin, Brian Boyle, Derek Stepan, Taylor Pyatt, Chris Kreider, Derek Dorsett, Benoit Pouliot, Mats Zuccarello, Darroll Powe, Dominic Moore, Arron Asham, Ryan Bourque, Brandon Mashinter, Micheal Haley, Jason Wilson
Personally, I would go the one goalie, five defensemen, nine forward route. Other than Hank, none of the other goalies are worth leaving two additional defensemen and two additional forwards unprotected.
So here are my picks:
Defensemen: McDonagh, Staal, Girardi, Del Zotto, Moore
Forwards: Nash, Cally, Brassard, Hagelin, Stepan, Kreider, Zuccarello, Bourque, Dorsett
My goalie and defense choices are no-brainers, but my forward choices were pretty difficult to make, specifically at the end when I got to Zuccarello, Bourque, and Dorsett. However, there is a method to my madness.
I left any pending UFAs unprotected, since there is really no point in protecting them when I could protect those that are still under team control, like Zuccarello and Bourque. That’s why I left Boyle off this list, despite the key role he plays as a defensive forward. It’s also why Pouliot and Pyatt weren’t considered at all. Leaving players like Asham, Moore, Powe, Haley, Wilson, and Mashinter off were easy choices.
Boyle was a difficult decision, but as was leaving Richards off this list. I am in the “Richards will bounce back” camp, so leaving him off is tough. That said, the contract is too much, and it’s unlikely a brand new team in a smallish market would have the financial capacity to take on his contract. Plus, even with a strong campaign, I still put him at a 50% chance for a buyout next season.Anyway, what do you guys think? Would you substitute Boyle for Dorsett? Pyatt for Bourque? Who would you keep?