Predicting NHL Team Protected Lists – Part 1/4 – Atlantic Division

 The summer of 2017 will be an eventful one for the NHL. Besides the usual NHL Entry Draft and Free Agency excitement, this year the league will welcome the Las Vegas Knights and will host the first expansion draft since 2000 when the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets entered the NHL.

Without getting too caught up in the many details, here is a quick summary of the rules of the draft:

1)Teams have until 5 pm EST on June 17, 2017, to submit their Protected List (see more below).

2)The Las Vegas Knights have to submit their draft selections by 5 pm EST on June 20, 2017.

3)Protected lists can be structured under the following two options: a)7 Forwards, 3 Defenseman, 1 Goaltender b)8 Skaters (any combo of F/D) and 1 Goaltender

4)All players who have a No Movement Clause (NMC) and do not waive the clause, need to be included in the Protected List. * For purposes of putting the below list together, we assumed that all players with NMC would not waive them and therefore automatically included any player with an NCM in the Protected List.

5)All first and second-year professionals do not need to be protected and are considered exempt from the expansion draft (i.e. do not count towards the list).

6)Each team must have, at a minimum, the following number of players exposed for the draft:

a)1 defenseman who is i) under contract in 2017-18 and i) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons. b)2 forwards who are a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons. c)1 goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18.

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The Las Vegas Knights also have to follow certain rules when drafting (i.e. must take at least one player from each team) but these are less relevant for putting our list together and we did not go into details on these rules.

Now that the basic rules and criteria have been defined, here is the projected Protected Lists for the Atlantic Division teams:

Montreal Canadiens

For a team that had difficulty scoring through most of last season, protecting some of their offensive assets should be a priority. Though there is a risk of wasting a protection spot on unrestricted free agent Alexander Radulov (one of the biggest bargains available this offseason), he was a leader for this team during the season and playoffs and the Canadiens cannot afford to lose him in this expansion draft. Montreal also benefits defensively from being able to include one of their top prospects in the exempted list – Mikhail Sergachev.


Protection List

F Brendan Gallagher – RW

F Alexander Radulov – RW (UFA)

F Andrew Shaw – C

F Max Pacioretty – LW

F Phillip Danault – LW

F Alex Galchenyuk – C (RFA)

F Paul Byron – LW

D Andrei Markov – D (UFA)

D Jeff Petry (NMC) – D

D Shea Weber – D

G Carey Price (NMC) – G

Total Cap Hit = $48,386,310 (66.28% of 2016-17 cap)

Notable Exemptions

Artturi Lehkonen – LW

Nikita Nesterov – D

Mikhail Sergachev – D

Boston Bruins

The Bruins have quite a few players with NMCs which alone took up almost half the protected list; though these players are core to the team and would have been included on the list regardless. Besides adding the fairly obvious players like Pastrnak, Marchand, and Krug, the 8-year veteran Matt Beleskey was included to round out the forward group. Beleskey was 9th and 10th on the team in Shots For % and Fenwick For %, and proved to be a valuable depth player.

Protection List

F David Pastrnak – RW (RFA)

F Patrice Bergeron (NMC) – C

F Ryan Spooner – C (RFA)

F Brad Marchand – LW

F David Backes (NMC) – RW

F David Krejci (NMC) – C

F Matt Beleskey – LW

D Colin Miller – D

D Torey Krug – D

D Zdeno Chara (NMC) – D

G Tuukka Rask – G

Total Cap Hit = $50,466,667 (69.13% of 2016-17 cap)

Notable Exemptions

Frank Vatrano – C

Noel Acciari – C

Ottawa Senators

In making the protected list, the Ottawa Senators are impacted by the rule explained in 6b above. You may notice that Alexander Burrows is excluded from the list and though he wasn’t a lock to be included, some would rightfully argue that he is better than Dzingel or Pageau. However, after including players from Mark Stone to Kyle Turris, the Senators only had two other forwards that met the criteria in 6b – Zack Smith and Alexander Burrows. Therefore, the Senators need to keep both those players exposed. Fan favorite Clarke MacArthur was also left off the list given the risks associated with his concussion history.


Protection List

F Mark Stone – RW

F Mike Hoffman – LW

F Derick Brassard – C

F Bobby Ryan – RW

F Kyle Turris – C

F Ryan Dzingel – LW

F Jean-Gabriel Pageau – C

D Erik Karlsson – D

D Dion Phaneuf (NMC) – D

D Chris Wideman – D

G Craig Anderson – G

Total Cap Hit = $44,587,500 (61.08% of 2016-17 cap)

Notable Exemptions

Thomas Chabot – D

Toronto Maple Leafs

Most would agree that the Toronto Maple Leafs have a bright future, and so it shouldn’t be a surprise to see that they are one of the teams that benefit the most from the exemptions. You probably could add a few other young impactful players to the likes of Matthews, Nylander, and Marner that are also exempted. Because of this, there are not many other players that the Leafs need to protect and the below list is basically the remaining core of their team.

Protection List

S James van Riemsdyk – LW

S Nazem Kadri – C

S Tyler Bozak – C

S Brian Boyle – C (UFA)

S Leo Komarov – C

S Connor Brown – RW (RFA)

S Jake Gardiner – D

S Morgan Rielly – D

G Frederik Andersen – G

Total Cap Hit = $32,636,667 (44.71% of 2016-17 cap)

Notable Exemptions

Auston Matthews – C

Mitchell Marner – C

William Nylander – C

Tampa Bay Lightning

Besides Victor Hedman, it looks like the Lighting will not be able to protect any of their veteran defensemen as they will need to choose between the two options described in 3a and 3b above. To complicate matters even more, they have 3 players with NMCs – Stamkos, Hedman, and Callahan. Tampa Bay has too much talent up front to not protect the top forwards, and it makes sense for them to choose the 7 skater option. Still, one of their better players, Alex Killorn, will go unprotected.


Protection List

S Nikita Kucherov – C

S Steven Stamkos (NMC) – RW

S Jonathan Drouin – LW (RFA)

S Vladislav Namestnikov – C

S Ondrej Palat – LW (RFA)

S Tyler Johnson – LW

S Ryan Callahan (NMC) – RW

S Victor Hedman (NMC) – D

G Andrei Vasilevskiy – G

Total Cap Hit = $33,490,000 (45.88% of 2016-17 cap)

Notable Exemptions

Brayden Point – C

Florida Panthers

Depth on the Panthers blueline will leave them with one of their top 4 defensemen exposed. Up and coming Michael Matheson is eligible for the exemption list but Florida still has Ekblad, Yandle, Petrovic, and Demers. Of those 4, Petrovic doesn’t meet the exposure eligibility and therefore the team has to choose who they protect between Eklad, Yandle (NMC), and Demers. Seems like the choice is fairly obvious.

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Protection List

F Jaromir Jagr – RW (UFA)

F Jonathan Huberdeau – C

F Aleksander Barkov – C

F Jonathan Marchessault – LW

F Thomas Vanek – LW (UFA)

F Vincent Trocheck – C

F Jussi Jokinen – RW

D Aaron Ekblad – D

D Keith Yandle (NMC) – D

D Alex Petrovic – D (RFA)

G Roberto Luongo – G

Total Cap Hit = $36,808,333 (50.42% of 2016-17 cap)

Notable Exemptions

Michael Matheson – D

Detroit Red Wings

No real surprises in Detroit’s protection list. They are able to keep the core of their top 6 forwards in Nielsen, Zetterberg, Nyquist, and Tatar. Though he had a down year, Detroit benefits from keeping Larkin through the exempt list. In the end, the Red Wing’s biggest decision will be in goal as either Jimmy Howard or Petr Mrazek will need to be exposed. Though Howard put up better numbers this year, this one should be a no-brainer. Mrazek is younger, $1.2M cheaper, and has taken over the number 1 spot over the past two seasons.


Protection List

F Frans Nielsen (NMC) – C

F Henrik Zetterberg – LW

F Anthony Mantha – RW

F Gustav Nyquist – RW

F Tomas Tatar – LW (RFA)

F Justin Abdelkader – LW

F Andreas Athanasiou – C (RFA)

D Niklas Kronwall – D

D Mike Green – D

D Xavier Ouellet – D (RFA)

G Petr Mrazek – G

Total Cap Hit = $40,039,999 (54.85% of 2016-17 cap)

Notable Exemptions

Dylan Larkin – C

Buffalo Sabres

Newly hired GM Jason Botterill has quite a task ahead of him as he looks to get the Sabres back on track after a dismal season, both on and off the ice. The good news is that the protection list should be fairly easy to compile. Not protecting captain Brian Gionta is a difficult decision but his points per game and puck possession metrics have been declining since his 2012-13 season with Montreal. Add to that a $4.25M cap hit and it is worth it for Buffalo to take the risk of leaving him exposed.

Protection List

F Kyle Okposo (NMC) – RW

F Matt Moulson – LW

F Sam Reinhart – C

F Tyler Ennis – LW

F Marcus Foligno – LW

F Ryan O’Reilly – C

F Evander Kane – LW

D Rasmus Ristolainen – D

D Cody Franson – D (UFA)

D Taylor Fedun – D (UFA)

G Robin Lehner – G (RFA)

Total Cap Hit = $43,044,167 (59.96% of 2016-17 cap)

Notable Exemptions

Jack Eichel – C