Final projection for the Rangers 2021 Expansion Draft protection list
As of 3pm today, the NHL rosters freeze and 30 NHL teams –Vegas is exempt– must submit their 2021 Expansion Draft protection lists. The Rangers have a few options at their disposal, with the signings of both Brett Howden and Julien Gauthier over the last week. It does seem like a trade before the expansion draft is imminent, as the timing of these deals would indicate that. Or that could just be me overanalyzing, per usual. That said, most of the Rangers protection list is determined.
As of the writing of this post, there have been no roster moves or trades to speak of. That, in my opinion, is likely to change given the above. However for the sake of this post, we are going to assume the roster as is, with no trades made. The trades won’t impact much anyway. This is pretty straight forward for the Rangers. The Rangers will go the 7D/3D route
If the Rangers don’t make a trade, then they will decide between protecting Tony DeAngelo, Anthony Bitetto, and Libor Hajek. Given the plan to buyout DeAngelo, it’s really “between” Bitetto and Hajek. Let’s just assume the plan, in this case, would be to protect Hajek.
If the Rangers make a trade, then whomever they acquire would be protected. It’s that simple.
The forwards are where things get interesting. We know six of the seven they will protect: Chris Kreider, Artemity Panarin, Pavel Buchnevich, Mika Zibanejad, Ryan Strome, and Filip Chytil. We also know that Alexis Lafreniere, Kaapo Kakko, and Vitali Kravtsov are exempt. That leaves the decision is to protect one of Julien Gauthier, Brett Howden, Colin Blackwell, and Kevin Rooney.
Given the recent contracts to both Gauthier and Howden, it sounds like the Rangers are going to protect Blackwell. Barring any trades, that would be my final guess. That leaves Gauthier, Howden, and Rooney exposed.
If there is a trade, then I would expect it to be a minor trade, likely Gauthier or Howden for a defenseman, which doesn’t really change the Rangers protection list. However there is still the outside chance of a bigger trade involving Buchnevich. That would certainly spice things up and change everything. In that scenario, expect the Rangers to protect Blackwell and one of Howden or Gauthier. If it were me, I’d pick Gauthier, but it would likely be Howden.
The expansion draft protection lists are due at 3pm today when the roster freeze takes place. They will be announced tomorrow, but expect them to leak well beforehand. The expansion draft will be held on Wednesday at 8pm.