Having fun with a theoretical expansion draft

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):

Goalies: Henrik Lundqvist, Martin Biron, Jason Missaien, Scott Stajcer, Cam Talbot

Defensemen: Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Michael Del Zotto, Anton Stralman, John Moore, Justin Falk, Aaron Johnson, Stu Bickel, Danny Syrvet

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:

Goalie: Hank

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?

9 Responses to “Having fun with a theoretical expansion draft”

  1. WilliamW says:

    Boyle for Bourque definitely. Don’t see him ever being a meaningful part of the Rangers

    Stralman is really the only tough one to see off that list

    • Dave says:

      I had Boyle initially, but I removed him for Bourque because of the UFA thing. If an expansion draft team drafts a UFA, it just means they get the negotiating rights, doesn’t mean the player is theirs.

    • Dave says:

      Also, regarding Stralman, I had to leave one defenseman off that had played enough games. Unfortunately Stralman is the odd man out.

  2. Brian says:

    I really hope there’s no expansion. The league is watered down enough as is.

  3. Centerman21 says:

    I don’t know the particulars on expansion but it seems inevitable with 14 teams in the West and an NHL ready arena in Seattle. It’s odd that QC hasn’t gotten more traction as an expansion location.

  4. Ray says:

    I would protect Stralman, rather than protect four left Dmen. I’d probably reluctantly give up MDZ.

    I would let Richards go because I think the Rangers have to buy him out, rebound or no. The cap hit in the end years is too crushing. On the other hand, I could see an expansion team using him to make a splash. The cap hit is nasty, but he’s not that expensive as the Rangers have paid so much of the contract already.

    Bourque???

  5. I’d keep Stralman over Staal who is both brittle and likely to leave the Rangers for Carolina when free he is a UFA.

    Also Stralman is a right defenseman and over the last 2 seasons has outproduced Staal ON EVERY STAT. And I don’t want to hear that Staal has been injured over the last 2 years. You get a “pass” for one year of being injured, not 2 or 3 years.

  6. Mark says:

    No expansion please. Just send one of the underperforming franchises there. The balance issue is not that important.

  7. Adam says:

    Just out of curiosity, how would the new salary recapture rules affect leaving Richards unprotected? Let’s say they did not protect him, he was claimed in the expansion draft, and retired after 2 or 3 years. Would the Rangers not be stuck with the remaining cap hit, per the new rules? If they would be penalized, they’d probably have to protect him just for that purpose and likely buy him out next summer.