Predicting NHL Team Protected Lists – Part 2/4 – Metropolitan Division

If you missed the first part of this series, the Protected Lists for the Atlantic division can be found here.

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.

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.

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

Washington Capitals

After a stellar regular season, it was another disappointing exit from the postseason for the Capitals. The good news is that they will not lose any significant core pieces of their team to the expansion draft. Washington will be able to protect their high-powered offensive players and have room to include 3 solid defensemen. Depth players Tom Wilson and Jay Beagle will likely be targeted by the Knights so it will be interesting to see which, if not both, are selected. The other big question mark centers around whether the Caps will be able to sign all their free agents. UFAs include Kevin Shattenkirk, T.J. Oshie, and Justin Williams, and their RFAs include Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, and Dmitry Orlov.

Shattenkirk 5

Protection List

F Marcus Johansson – C

F Alex Ovechkin – LW

F Justin Williams – RW (UFA)

F T.J. Oshie – RW (UFA)

F Andre Burakovsky – LW (RFA)

F Nicklas Backstrom – C

F Evgeny Kuznetsov – C (RFA)

D Kevin Shattenkirk – D (UFA)

D Dmitry Orlov – D (RFA)

D Matt Niskanen – D

G Braden Holtby – G

Total Cap Hit = $49,053,462 (67.20% of 2016-17 cap)

Notable Exemptions

Jakub Vrana – LW

Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins have one of the most intriguing and difficult decisions to make when putting together their Protection List. Most are probably aware of the strong playoff performance that Marc-Andre Fleury showed coming off the bench for the injured Matt Murray. The dilemma on which of these two goaltenders to protect has caused us to make an exception to our rule of always including players with NMCs in their contract. We strongly believe that Matt Murray is the goalie that Pittsburgh should move forward with. With his 32 wins, .923 SV% and 2.41 GAA this season, Murray has shown that he can hold down the number 1 goaltending spot for the Penguins and it appears his coach has the same belief as he took back the starting job for game 4 of the playoff series with the Senators. He’s also 10 years younger than Fleury. In the end, Pittsburgh will need to convince Fleury to waive his NMC clause so that he can be excluded from the Protection List and replaced by Matt Murray. It’s going to be very interesting to see how this plays out.


Protection List

F Patric Hornqvist – RW

F Sidney Crosby (NMC) – C

F Evgeni Malkin (NMC) – C

F Phil Kessel (NMC) – RW

F Chris Kunitz – LW (UFA)

F Bryan Rust – RW

F Nick Bonino – C (UFA)

D Justin Schultz – D (RFA)

D Olli Maatta – D

D Kris Letang (NMC) – D

G Matt Murray – G

Total Cap Hit = $52,123,333 (71.40% of 2016-17 cap)

Notable Exemptions

Jake Guentzel – C

Conor Sheary – LW

Columbus Blue Jackets

Not many surprises in the Blue Jackets’ Protection List. Though having multiple players with NMCs adds a few complications, they will be able to protect many of their assets. Matt Calvert and Boone Jenner are the exposed players which are likely to be targeted by the Las Vegas Knights. Despite potentially losing one of them, Columbus is setup to add to the great success they showed over the past season, especially benefiting from having their top defenseman, Zach Werenski, included on the exemption list.


Protection List

F Sam Gagner – C (UFA)

F Alexander Wennberg – C (RFA)

F Brandon Saad – LW

F Scott Hartnell (NMC) – LW

F Nick Foligno (NMC) – LW

F Cam Atkinson – RW

F Brandon Dubinsky (NMC) – C

D Seth Jones – D

D David Savard – D

D Jack Johnson – D

G Sergei Bobrovsky (NMC) – G

Total Cap Hit = $48,607,143 (66.59% of 2016-17 cap)

Notable Exemptions

Oliver Bjorkstrand – RW

Zach Werenski – D

New York Rangers

So why is Brandon Pirri on this list but guys like Kevin Hayes and Michael Grabner are excluded. For one, Hayes and Grabner meet the exposure requirements (6b above) whereas Pirri does not. Pirri was also third on the team in both Corsi For % and Fenwick For %, posting an impressive 58.78% and 58.32% in those respective categories. He was also fifth in both Shots For % and Scoring Chance For %. In contrast, Hayes ranked between 17 and 19 in all those categories and Grabner between 19 and 22. All these figures show that Pirri was a better puck possession player and has been able to generate many more positive events for his team than either of his two teammates that were not included on the Protection List.

Zuccarello Kreider

Protection List

F Chris Kreider – LW

F Mats Zuccarello – RW

F Brandon Pirri – RW (RFA)

F Derek Stepan – C

F Mika Zibanejad – C (RFA)

F Rick Nash (NMC) – RW

F J.T. Miller – LW

D Ryan McDonagh – D

D Marc Staal (NMC) – D

D Dan Girardi (NMC) – D

G Henrik Lundqvist (NMC) – G

Total Cap Hit = $54,300,000 (74.38% of 2016-17 cap)

Notable Exemptions

Pavel Buchnevich – RW

Jimmy Vesey – LW

New York Islanders

The Islanders have a few decisions to make for their Protection List. One of these decisions is choosing between Jaroslav Halak or Thomas Greiss. Both goaltenders put up almost identical save percentages, but Greiss edged out Halak 2.69 to 2.80 in GAA and 26-12 in wins. When you add the fact that Greiss was statistically better than Halak in the 2015-16 season and led the Islanders to a first-round series win against the Florida Panthers in last year’s playoff, the battle seems to have been won by the German netminder. It also doesn’t hurt that his cap hit is just over $1M less.

Strome Tavares

Protection List

F Anders Lee – C

F John Tavares (NMC) – C

F Josh Bailey – RW

F Ryan Strome – RW

F Andrew Ladd (NMC) – LW

F Brock Nelson – C

F Cal Clutterbuck – RW

D Nick Leddy – D

D Johnny Boychuk (NMC) – D

D Thomas Hickey – D

G Thomas Greiss – G

Total Cap Hit = $43,583,333 (59.70% of 2016-17 cap)

Notable Exemptions

Joshua Ho-Sang – RW

Philadelphia Flyers

Like many teams, the Flyers will have an important decision to make when it comes to the protection of their goaltenders but in the end, you’ll see that it really doesn’t matter who they protect. Steve Mason and Michael Neuvirth are currently their rostered goalies, along with rookie Anthony Stolarz. Though Stolarz put up strong numbers this season (.928 SV% and 2.07 GAA), he only played in 7 games and therefore he needs much more exposure before the 23-year old becomes a relevant part of the Flyers potential plans.

From purely a stats perspective, Mason seems to be the better protection choice; he put up a .908 SV% to Neuvirth’s .891 and 2.66 to his teammate’s 2.88 GAA. Both players are 28 years old so age will not play a part in the decision. Mason does have a significant amount of risk in that he is an UFA which would result in the Flyers “wasting” the spot to protect him should he decide to not re-sign with the team. All that being said, it doesn’t matter who the Flyers protect. With goalies like Fleury (likely), Niemi, Bernier, Lehtonen, Ranta all being available, it is unlikely that the Las Vegas Knights select either Mason or Neuvirth.


Protection List

F Claude Giroux (NMC) – C

F Brayden Schenn – C

F Jakub Voracek – RW

F Wayne Simmonds – RW

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F Dale Weise – RW

F Sean Couturier – C

F Valtteri Filppula (NMC) – C

D Shayne Gostisbehere – D

D Radko Gudas – D

D Michael Del Zotto – D (UFA)

G Steve Mason – G (UFA)

Total Cap Hit = $49,558,333 (67.89% of 2016-17 cap)

Notable Exemptions

Travis Konecny – C

Ivan Provorov – D

Carolina Hurricanes

Lee Stempniak likely will go unprotected by the Hurricanes and there is a good chance he be targeted by the Knights. It is shame that Carolina will lose him as the veteran put up a respectable 40 points and was an important piece on this team full of youngsters. Unfortunately, out of all the players that satisfy criteria 6b, Stempniak was the worst performer. He and Joakim Nordstrom will be the two players exposed under that criteria. Also interesting to see is what happens to Eddie Lack and Cam Ward. The recent signing of Scott Darling seems to indicate that he will take over the starting role and Ward or Lack will be lost. It will be important for Carolina to try to obtain as much in return for them as possible. Given Ward’s age, it seems like teams will be more willing to target the capable Eddie Lack and Ward will fall into a backup role to Scott Darling.


Protection List

F Teuvo Teravainen – LW (RFA)

F Jordan Staal (NMC) – C

F Elias Lindholm – C

F Jeff Skinner – LW

F Victor Rask – C

F Philip Di Giuseppe – LW (RFA)

F Brock McGinn – LW (RFA)

D Justin Faulk – D

D Ryan Murphy – D

D Matt Tennyson – D (UFA)

G Scott Darling – G

Total Cap Hit = $31,394,167 (43.01% of 2016-17 cap)

Notable Exemptions

Sebastian Aho – RW

Derek Ryan – C

Jaccob Slavin – D

New Jersey Devils

New Jersey’s forwards that meet the exposure requirement (6b) are Taylor Hall, Travis Zajac, Mike Cammalleri, Kyle Palmieri, Adam Henrique, and Devante Smith-Pelley. With 9 points in 53 games, not protecting Smith-Pelley is an easy decision. Of the remaining 5 players, Cammalleri was the worst performer and, with the exception of his 38 points in 42 games in the 2015-16 season, his points per game has been declining since the 2012-13 season with Calgary. His $5M cap hit and fact that he is 35 years old in June simply do not help his cause.

Palmieri Hall

Protection List

F Taylor Hall – LW

F Stefan Noesen – RW (RFA)

F Beau Bennett – RW (RFA)

F Kyle Palmieri – LW

F Travis Zajac – C

F Adam Henrique – C

F Jacob Josefson – C (RFA)

D Damon Severson – D (RFA)

D Andy Greene – D

D Jon Merrill – D

G Cory Schneider – G

Total Cap Hit = $31,968,333 (43.79% of 2016-17 cap)

Notable Exemptions

Pavel Zacha – C

Steven Santini – D

Joseph Blandisi – LW

Read Part 1/4 (The Atlantic Division) here