Kraken the Lineup
After almost 2 years of anticipation, last Friday NHL Seattle finally released their team name. They will be called the Seattle Kraken, which is a tribute to the "King Octopus" that ancient Tacoma legend places right in the Puget Sound. With this exciting announcement, many analysts and fans have turned their attention to the 2021-22 expansion draft, where Seattle will select one player from each of the 31 other rosters to make up their inaugural squad.
After seeing how well the Vegas Golden Knights were able to draft in their expansion draft, there is a lot of focus on the upcoming draft. The Vegas Golden Knights, the newest addition to the NHL back in 2017 broke records left and right. Essentially a success over night, Vegas won 8 out of their first 9 games and eventually went on to record 34 wins in 50 games, shattering the previous record of a team in their debut season.
There is a lot of uncertainty pertaining to the exact rules of the next expansion draft because of the financial burden the COVID-19 pandemic placed on the NHL. However, following the expansion draft rules that were set for Vegas, it is assumed that each team will be able to protect 7 forwards, 3 defensemen, and 1 goalie. All players currently on a "No Movement Clause" will need to be protected and will count towards the total protected players list. In addition, any player currently in his entry level contract is ineligible for the expansion draft and will be protected, at no cost. Once these lists are submitted by each team, Seattle will be able to select any player that has not been protected for their own roster. Below is a list of current Rangers players with their status in the upcoming expansion draft:
Taking into account the fact that this draft is taking place in 2021 and the current roster will most definitely be a bit different, this is a preliminary list of what the expansion draft could look like for the Rangers.
Forwards: Panarin, Kreider, and Zibanejad will need to be protected because of their NMC. This leaves 4 spots left for the Rangers to protect. Most likely, Buchnevich, Lemieux, Chytil, and Howden will be protected which leaves Gauthier available for selection in the draft.
Defensemen: Trouba is the only defensman with a NMC, which leaves 2 players left for the Rangers to protect. If nothing changes, DeAngelo and Lindgren will be protected, leaving Hajek exposed to the expansion draft. Hajek seemed to be the odd man out anyways with Nils Lundkvist and K'andre Miller proving themselves NHL ready in a season or two. He is a talented young defenseman but I believe the Rangers have better options for our future.
Goalies: The Rangers will be able to protect all of their goalies in the expansion draft because Shesterkin is still on his ELC and Lundqvist is an outgoing UFA. The Rangers will use their protection spot on Georgiev, if he is still on the squad, and all 3 goalies would be protected.
If this roster does not change, the two players that will be available for Seattle to select would be Julien Gauthier and Libor Hajek. Both are very young players with good upsides but currently have not done much to prove their worth for the Rangers. All in all, the Rangers would be able to protect their major assets, considering the roster isn't shuffled a great amount, which is fantastic news.