Who would the Rangers keep in a theoretical NHL expansion draft?

September 1, 2014, by
Photo: Bruce Bennett

Photo: Bruce Bennett

Last year, I had some fun with a theoretical expansion draft. I did that more as an August musings post than anything else. This time around, there are big rumors about expansion, and it seemed like a good idea to do another theoretical expansion draft. After all, the roster has changed and the team’s situation has changed. As cities like Las Vegas, Seattle, Quebec City, and Toronto become more entrenched in the expansion rumors, it becomes hard to ignore the need to prepare for an expansion draft.

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 (Anthony Duclair and Brady Skjei are exempt, J.T. Miller is not). All players on ELCs that will slide (Ryan Graves) 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 LundqvistCam Talbot, Jason Missaien, Cedrick Desjardins

Defensemen: Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Dan Boyle, Kevin Klein, John MooreMike Kostka, Matt Hunwick, Dylan McIlrath, Steve Kampfer

Forwards: Rick Nash, Marty St. Louis, Derick Brassard, Carl Hagelin, Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, Dominic Moore, Tanner Glass, Lee Stempniak, Matt Lombardi, Chris Mueller, J.T. Miller, Danny Kristo, Oscar Lindberg, Jesper Fast, Andrew Yogan, Marek Hrivik, Chris Bourque, Ryan Bourque, Nick Tarnasky

Personally, I would go the one goalie, five defensemen, nine forward route. Hank is the no-brainer, but it doesn’t make sense for the Rangers to protect Talbot at the expense of the other roster players. Trades have been made in the past expansion drafts, sending draft picks to expansion teams in exchange for not selecting certain players.

So here are my picks:

Goalie: Lundqvist

Defense: McDonagh, Girardi, Klein, Moore, McIlrath

Forwards: Nash, Brassard, Hagelin, Stepan, Kreider, Zuccarello, Miller, Lindberg, Fast

On defense, it really came down to Girardi, Boyle, or Staal. This was extremely difficult. I eliminated Boyle first because he’s 38 years old and there’s only so much left in the tank. I left Staal unprotected because he’s a UFA, and there’s really no point in protecting a UFA. There are risks with keeping Girardi and that contract though. If Staal were signed, I’d keep him over Girardi.

For the forwards, most of these were no-brainers. I followed the UFA mentality and left MSL unprotected. He’s already stated that he only wants to play in New York, so there risk of him being selected is mitigated by the fact that he’d likely re-sign in New York.

The tough choices came when I could only keep three of Lindberg, Fast, Miller, Kristo, and R. Bourque. Whoever wasn’t protected would surely be selected in the draft. I think you have to protect the guys who have the combination of high ceiling and close to NHL ready.

Kristo is extremely talented, but isn’t well-rounded at 24 years old. His time is running out, and this was accentuated by the fact that the Rangers didn’t give him a multi-year deal after his ELC ran out.

Bourque just had a breakout year and is probably NHL ready for a fourth line role. But is it worth protecting Bourque over someone like Fast, who has already played some effective games in the NHL? Over someone like Lindberg, who has the same offensive upside, same defensive talent, but wins over 55% of his face offs? It was a tough choice.

Of everyone left unprotected, only these guys are at a risk to get picked:

Goalies: Talbot

Defense: Boyle, Staal, Kostka

Forwards: Moore, Stempniak, Glass, Lombardi, R. Bourque

I think Talbot is definitely someone who would be selected. Everyone else is certainly a toss-up, and you can make cases for and against it. I can certainly see the Rangers making trades to ensure players don’t get picked, especially someone like Staal.

So what do you guys think? Who would you protect in an expansion draft?

"Who would the Rangers keep in a theoretical NHL expansion draft?", 5 out of 5 based on 3 ratings.
Categories : Musings


  1. Louis Giannone says:

    I would include Nash. I don’t think an expansion team would want a big contract like his. Besides he has not shown me much since coming to NY. I would take the risk.

    • Seahorse says:

      But theres no one else left protecting. You’d switch for either moore or borque who are fourth liners. If you could switch for staal if he was under contract I wouldnt necessarily agree with you but I wouldn’t disagree. 30 goal scorers are rarer than 2nd pairing left defenseman

  2. RangerSmurf says:

    I’d personally leave Girardi unprotected to try and get out from under that deal in 2017, since by then it should be a nice old tirefire of a contract.

    • Walt says:


      The contract signed was crazy at best. Girardi is too slow, aging, and is not as effective as a few years ago. What makes anyone think that he can improve, or maintain his current level at best?????????????

      • Walt says:

        To the people who disagree with my post, please go to, and read the article about Girardi. This may change your minds somewhat. Also, remember in the finals this season, Dan was probably the least effective of all our d-men!!! Then you can give me a few more thumbs down if it makes you feel good.

      • Spozo says:

        You’re completely right I would hope they can get rid of Girardi. One thing. I would only do it if they can sign another first pairing allstar right handed defenseman who can play 28 minutes a night and never misses a game and can play shutdown minutes against the other teams best players.

        • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

          You’ll never find that in today’s game. Righties like that are coveted since 2/3 or the leagues defenseman are lefties. How many of those can play the mins and situations Girardi plays in? Not many. You would pay an appendage for that kind of player in a trade or as a UFA. Girardi’s contract won’t look so bad by then.

          • Seahorse says:

            Im gonna guess that request for an unobtainable player was sarcasm

            • Spozo says:

              I thought it was obvious seahorse! I basically said I would get rid of Girardi if the Rangers could replace him with……Dan Girardi.

      • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

        If that’s the case and it’s hard to predict at this point but shouldn’t that change the thinking behind wether or not to resign Staal? Mac is great but he can’t do it all by himself. At least if you end up with 2 star defenseman on the left side you have a formidable Blueline.
        It’s a couple years away but still what happens if you loose a top pair righty and Staal was traded years earlier. Leaving the Blueline rather thin or at best young.

    • Dave says:

      That was a hard one for me. I would probably flip back and forth between him and Staal depending on my mood.

      • Puck Luck @Centerman21 says:

        If you leave Girardi unprotected you have to resign Staal. I would trade Talbot to a team in need of a starter before leaving him unprotected. He would be one of the first guys picked. He’s a UFA at seasons end I believe and his deal becomes a 1 way contract this season. If he has a season like last year he won’t want to sit as Hanks backup forever. He’s 27 already and running into his prime. Trade him for draft picks of prospects exempt from the draft. I would trade a few players worth something before loosing them to a draft.

  3. rangerinexile says:

    I honestly might keep Nash unprotected. Don’t get me wrong. I love the big guy and think he helps make the team a lot more dangerous. That said, his contract is massive and in our current cap environment getting rid of it would give us a lot of benefits going forward. Is that flexibility worth Nash’s production? I dunno. But MSL could work as our established star.

    Again, this is not to rag on Nash. Just a question about how best to spend that $$$.

  4. Matt Josephs says:

    The expansion draft scares the hell the hell out of me. We have so much young talent on the fringes and we can lose a decent few. Not to mention the league’s talent will be diluted right before our very eyes.

  5. bernmeister says:

    Generally concur, except for:

    No on unprotecting Staal.
    don’t give a damn about the righty aspect. Girardi not as good, and while not esp. onerous, his contract is not cheap.

    Nash, it’s tough, but I think better off to put him on. If someone takes him, it’s a loss of talent but HUGE cap relief. Odds he gets taken about 60-40, IMO, but an acceptable risk

  6. Mr. Moose says:

    Four expansion teams still leaves unbalanced divisions….NHL owner greed outweighs the obvious;
    move dying franchises like Florida and Arizona…will Brooklyn and the Isles bring out the fans for midweek games in an already diluted league?
    Buffalo has a great fan base, but is a dying city…
    Columbus and Nashville???