Expansion is on the horizon I hear and that means exciting times and increased scoring. It means fringe players get to reignite would might be considered lost careers and it also means that some lucky 18-year-old will be the face of a franchise in a new market (Las Vegas) or possibly an old one (Quebec City).
I’m not old enough to remember the early expansions. When I was just a young fella the Ottawa Senators, Florida Panthers, San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Mighty Ducks and Tampa Bay Lightning were introduced into the league and boy were they terrible.
The first came in 1991 in the form of a dispersal draft/expansion draft for the San Jose Sharks.
The Coles Notes on this goes as such: Minnesota North Stars weren’t getting asses in the seats, the ownership wanted to relocate to the Bay area, the NHL said no because they liked having a team in Minny but then changed their minds and said they’d give the North Stars’ owners their own team IF they sold to one of the league’s approved buyers (who moved the team to Dallas a year later anyhow). One of the conditions of the whole deal was that the new Sharks team would be able to pick players from the old North Stars team, then both teams (SJ and MIN) would pick players from the rest of the league’s unprotected lists to fill/re-fill their rosters.
The results here. As a side note. I really loved the Sharks jerseys, still do, and was a fan almost instantly.
I didn’t know that Charlie Huddy was unprotected and picked up by the Minnesota North Stars only to be dealt in a package of players to the LA Kings. And how about Guy Lafleur being picked last? That one I had no idea about either.
The second one for me was in 1992 when the Tampa Bay Lightning and Ottawa Senators came into the league.
The connection to the Oilers that year was Anatoli Semenov being picked by the Lightning and a guy named Jeff Bloemberg being dealt to the Oilers from Tampa. Bloemberg was actually selected before players like Brian Bradley and Jeff Lazaro… You got me there. Those two guys were actually quite good in NHL 93. Because that’s how we judged players in the early nineties at my age.
The results here.
And the third expansion draft of my youth came in 1993 where the league introduced the Anaheim Mighty Ducks and the Florida Panthers.
This expansion draft in relation to the Oilers saw Edmonton lose a couple of fairly important names. Goalie Ron Tugnutt (Love that name. Don’t see too many Tugnutts in the league anymore or professional sports for that matter.) and forward Scott Mellanby.
I’ll be honest, as I look over the players that were picked in this round of expansion, this last draft had the best players. John Vanbiesbrouck, Alexei Kasatonov, Stephane Richer, Mellanby, Brian Skrudland, and Darren Puppa were all picked up. I think the other four new franchises got the shaft.
Check out the results here.
That brings us to what I really wanted to talk about and that is my protected list for the Oilers when the league has its next expansion into Las Vegas or Quebec, Seattle or Toronto… Just recently we’ve received rumblings as to what the initial rules will be as to player protection.
- We’ve been told that teams can choose to protect one goalie, three defencemen and seven forwards OR one goalie and eight skaters of any position.
- Teams will only lose one player PER expansion team.
- First and second year players would be exempt. Third year pros would not be exempt.
- Unlike previous expansion drafts, this upcoming one will only allow teams to ability to protect one keeper. Have a wicked starting NHL goalie on your team and a highly rated one in the minors who has been marinating for three years? Tough call right?
- Teams have to make at least 25% of their salary cap available. This could make for some interesting selections.
Now that we have a loose interpretation of the rules going in, which players would I be inclined to keep? I think firstly we have to choose whether we’re going with the 1-3-7 plan or the 1-8 plan. I reckon the former is the way to go. And another thing I should state before naming names is that I’m only using players off the roster we see today. So no pontificating on Hamonic or Vatanen, Lucic or Shattenkirk. Just today’s roster. And lastly, let’s do this as if the expansion is happening next season so the draft would be this June-ish.
Goalie – Cam Talbot
Sorry Laurent but I’m keeping Cam on this one. I can’t see an expansion team taking a young goalie anyhow. If we refer to the previous drafts those teams picked veteran goalies and with good reason too. You want someone with experience stopping pucks in your first year and with the amount of talent that could possibly be picked off, there’s not guarantee that the new teams would be that horrible.
Defencemen – Oscar Klefbom, Brandon Davidson, Griffin Reinhart
I’m leaving Sekera off here in the hopes a right-handed defenceman is acquired. He’s also got a big ticket with some solid term left on it that might come in handy come contact extension time for Connor, Leon, or Darnell.
*UPDATE* I totally forgot about the NMC thing… That will have to get sorted out. Either way, he’s not getting protected.
I’m keeping Reinhart because of financial reasons AND because of potential. He might be a bottom pairing dman for a couple of years yet or he might not pan out at all but I believe keeping him gives the team a bit more leverage to touch up the roster as they prefer.
Forwards – Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Leon Draisaitl, Patrick Maroon, Nail Yakupov, Zach Kassian
The biggest omission from my list here is Benoit Pouliot. In my opinion he’s expendable but hard to trade due to his contract. He’s had bits of luck playing alongside great centers (RNH, McD) but apart from that has been largely invisible. The fancies will tell us he’s a good possession player but if he’s not playing with one of the Oilers’ top centers, how much is he really helping the team and are those o-zone penalties too much to take?
I’m keeping Kassian because he’s young, cheap, and a prick to play against. He protects the other players on the team and there’s still potential for him to break through and turn into a nice complimentary middle-six winger capable of 15 goals a season.
Nurse, McDavid, and Slepyshev are exempt at this point so that’s why they weren’t spoken of.
The fellas at Broad Street Hockey have a good article up with their own thoughts on the subject. A bit more thorough than mine. It’s a Flyers site but the post doesn’t so much talk about their players as it does the details of the proposed expansion draft. Check that out here.
Which Oilers would you protect? Let us know in the comments below!