InGoal Magazine’s 2017 Expansion Draft Preview
With the NHL expanding to Las Vegas for the coming season, preparations for the expansion draft are well underway. It’s a process which will be simpler for some than others, with a number of clubs needing to make some tough decisions about the future of their goaltending.
The full list of rules for the 2017 Expansion Draft can be found here, but the points key to the protection, exposure and movement of goaltenders next June are as follows:
- The existing thirty teams are able to name one goaltender as part of their protected list. However, any netminder who currently has (and will continue to have) a No Movement Clause at the time of the Expansion Draft must be protected (and will count against that club’s Protected List).
- Every team must have at least one unprotected goaltender who is either under contract in 2017-18 or a restricted free agent on July 1. First and second year professionals and unsigned draftees are exempt. If an RFA is the only unprotected goaltender on the roster, they must have received a qualifying offer prior to the submission of the club’s protected list.
- For their part, Las Vegas must take one player from each existing team, and in addition to selecting fourteen forwards and nine defensemen, they must take at least three goaltenders. (This leaves
threefour additional spots.) At least 20 of the players they choose must be under contract for 2017-18.
- Clubs will submit their Protection List by 5PM Eastern on Saturday, June 17, 2017. Protection lists will be made public on June 18. Las Vegas makes their selections by 5PM Eastern on June 20 with an announcement of their selections to be made during the NHL Awards show on June 21.
For each team, InGoal Magazine has gathered the details of goaltenders under contract in 2017-18 (and the year their present deal will expire), pending unrestricted free agents, pending restricted free agents who will be eligible for the draft if qualified, and those who will be ineligible for the draft. [All contract, eligibility status, and waiver status information comes from CapFriendly.com.]
Update: Protected lists were announced Sunday morning. All protected goalies are now marked with a *; all other goalies should be assumed to be available.
Under Contract: John Gibson* (2019), Dustin Tokarski (2018)
UFA: Jonathan Bernier, Jhonas Enroth, Matt Hackett
Eligible RFA: None
Ineligible: Kevin Boyle, Angus Redmond, Ryan Faragher
With three pending unrestricted free agents and Kevin Boyle exempt, Anaheim have only starting goaltender John Gibson and AHL netminder Dustin Tokarski currently eligible for the expansion draft.
It’s a given that the Ducks will protect Gibson, who backstopped them to the Western Conference Final, with Tokarski being the expansion bait. Also possible is a new contract for either Bernier or Hackett, but as long as they have at least one goalie available to expose there’s not much need to rush anything.
Under Contract: Mike Smith (2019, NTC) and Louis Domingue (2018)
Eligible RFA: None
Ineligible: Hunter Miska, Adin Hill, Marek Langhamer
Mike Smith’s No Trade clause means little in the expansion draft, leaving Coyotes general manager John Chayka with an interesting choice. Does Arizona stick with the inconsistent but experienced Smith? Or the younger, cheaper Domingue, who has shown some potential but struggled while spelling Smith during his injury stints?
At times it seems that Vegas has been linked to nearly every goaltender in the league, but it is difficult to imagine the Golden Knights taking a chance on either of these two.
[Update: Arizona traded Mike Smith to Calgary for, among other things, the rights to UFA Chad Johnson*. If a contract gets done in the next few hours, Johnson’s eligible for the draft. If not, the Coyotes will have to leave Domingue exposed.]
[Update: Arizona protected Johnson, even though he’s not under contract, leaving Domingue exposed.]
Under Contract: Tuukka Rask* (2021, NMC) and Anton Khudobin (2018)
Eligible RFA: Malcolm Subban
Ineligible: Zane McIntyre and Daniel Vladar
Boston’s situation seems relatively straightforward, with Rask’s “No Movement” clause effectively making him an automatic addition to the Bruins protected list, while veteran backup Khudobin can be exposed. It also allows the Bruins to ‘shield’ Subban if they wait until after the expansion draft to qualify him.
Like most of the goalies being left unprotected, there’s little reason to suspect that Khudobin is at much risk. Subban, if he’s qualified, might garner interest but there are probably other options higher on the list.
Under Contract: Linus Ullmark
UFA: Anders Nilsson
Eligible RFA: Robin Lehner*
Ineligible: Jason Kasdorf, Jonas Johansson
The Sabres just announced a new contract for Ullmark on Wednesday. It’s a one-way contract worth $750,000 for two years, which makes this 23-year-old prospect rather attractive for Buffalo, who might be ready to promote him to the NHL, but less so for Las Vegas, who might want to keep him in the AHL. Ullmark is waiver exempt, however, which could make up for that.
This allows Buffalo slightly more confidence if they have to expose Ullmark to keep Robin Lehner. Thus far, Lehner has hasn’t quite lived up to the potential the team saw when the acquired him two years ago from Ottawa, but he does have more experience than anyone else in their system. They’ll have to at least qualify Lehner before the submitting their list if they plan to protect either goalie.
They question will be whether they’re prepared to risk losing a pretty good prospect in Ullmark or souring their relationship with their starter Lehner.
Under Contract: Tom McCollum (2018)
UFA: Brian Elliott and Chad Johnson
Eligible RFA: None
Ineligible: Jon Gillies, Mason McDonald, Nick Schneider
As it stands, Calgary has only a single goaltender they can expose next week. Before the playoffs, the expectation was that they would re-sign and protect Elliott, who was acquired from St. Louis in June in order to ‘fix’ the Flames goaltending problems.
As of now, however, no word has come about a new contract for Elliott. As far as the expansion draft is concerned, as long as they don’t make McCollum off limits, they are, theoretically, within the rules; the contracts can come later.
[Update: the Flames acquired Mike Smith* from Arizona Saturday afternoon and sent them the rights to Chad Johnson. Smith, being under contract is eligible for the expansion draft, but best guess is that he’ll be their protected goalie.]
Under Contract: Scott Darling* (2021, NTC), Eddie Lack (2018), Cam Ward (2018, NTC)
UFA: Michael Leighton
Eligible RFA: Daniel Altshuller
Ineligible: Alex Nedeljkovic
Carolina made the first big splash of the offseason, trading for and signing Scott Darling from the Chicago Blackhawks. It’s fairly obvious they’ll protect Darling, so the move creates uncertainty around both Cam Ward and Eddie Lack.
Ward’s No Trade Clause doesn’t affect his eligibility for the draft, but Lack is younger and (slightly) cheaper. Either could be exposed without risking too much to Carolina’s long term plans. In fact, the front office might breathe a sigh of relief if Ward were taken off their hands.
Under Contract: Corey Crawford* (2020, NMC), Jeff Glass (2018)
UFA: Mac Carruth, Lars Johansson
Eligible RFA: None
Crawford’s “No Movement” clause will see him added to the Blackhawks protected list, but Chicago will still need honor their requirement of exposing at least one goaltender. They have three minor league goalies to choose from, though Glass is the only one under contract (and thus eligible for the draft) as of right now.
Of course, they’ll also need someone to back Crawford up next year, so there is still the possibility of some kind of movement taking place that would affect things. It is likely, however, that those kinds of trades and signings will wait until after the expansion draft is completed.
Under Contract: Semyon Varlamov* (2019) and Calvin Pickard (2018)
UFA: Jeremy Smith, Joe Cannata
Eligible RFA: None
Ineligible: Spencer Martin
Colorado has the unenviable task of choosing between their inconsistent current number one Semyon Varlamov and the youngster Calvin Pickard.
Neither did well this season but Varlamov has, at times, excelled behind a team too frequently porous along the blue line. Expect him to be on Colorado’s protected list, despite a cap hit of $5.9 million for two more years. Pickard is far less experienced, but put up strong numbers in limited time during 2014-15 and 2015-16. He faltered, however, when called on to carry a bigger load behind that defense this year.
Pickard does currently come in at a bargain $1 million, but he isn’t waiver exempt, which reduces the Golden Knights’ flexibility.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Under Contract: Sergei Bobrovsky* (2019, NMC), Joonas Korpisalo (2019)
Eligible RFA: Oscar Dansk, Anton Forsberg
With Bobrovsky automatically on the Blue Jacket’s protected list, Columbus will find their excellent backup Korpisalo exposed at the draft. And there’s a very real risk of losing him.
Korpisalo has shown that he can handle a big workload in the NHL, and he’s got enormous potential. He’s the kind of future starting goaltender that an expansion team dreams of getting their hands on. Put him in a tandem with a veteran starter for another year and see where he goes.
[UPDATE: Is Korpisalo off the table? ]
Under Contract: Ben Bishop* (2018, NMC), Antti Niemi (2018), Kari Lehtonen (2018)
UFA: Justin Peters
Eligible RFA: Henri Kiviaho and Maxime Lagace
Ineligible: Philippe Desrosiers, Landon Bow
The second big goaltender trade of the offseason came when Dallas traded for and signed Ben Bishop to a six-year deal worth $29.5 million. With a full No Move Clause for the first three years, Bishop must be on the Stars protected list.
That basically confirms for any doubters that the Lehtonen-Niemi era is over in Dallas. The team will need to keep at least one of these two long enough to expose them in the draft, but after that a buyout for Niemi at least is expected. Nill is on record saying that he will look for a trade partner for one or both, but that’s unlikely to materialize.
Detroit Red Wings
Under Contract: Jimmy Howard* (2019, NTC), Petr Mrazek (2018), and Jared Coreau (2018)
UFA: Edward Pasquale
Eligible RFA: None
Ineligible: Jake Paterson, Matej Machovsky
Increasing buzz in the goalie world has it that the Red Wings will expose Petr Mrazek to the expansion draft, assuming no trade materializes between now and then. He’s exactly the kind of goalie that Dave Prior has favored in the past, so chances are good that Vegas will be interested.
This leaves the Red Wings with Jimmy Howard and Jared Coreau in net, a situation they’re said to be comfortable with. Howard brings the veteran experience and Coreau just won a Calder Cup with the AHL Grand Rapids Griffins. It may be time to promote the 25-year old. Whether giving up Mrazek for that opportunity is a smart move remains to be seen.
Under Contract: Cam Talbot* (2019, NMC) and Laurent Brossoit (2018)
UFA: Jonas Gustavsson
Eligible RFA: None
Ineligible: Nick Ellis
Talbot’s excellent season in 2016-17 and his “No Movement” clause make things relatively straight forward in Edmonton. Not only would they want to protect Talbot, they have to. That leaves Brossoit, who has shown some promise he might be able to perform as a competent NHL backup one day, exposed.
Under Contract: Roberto Luongo (2022, NTC) and James Reimer* (2021)
UFA: Sam Brittain
Eligible RFA: Adam Wilcox
Ineligible: Samuel Montembeault and Colin Stevens
Florida’s aim of establishing a long term, veteran partnership will be tested less than a year after it was formed, with the Panthers unable to protect both of their front line goaltenders.
It’s widely expected that Luongo will be the one exposed, although it’s a smaller risk for Florida than it might seem. While the poker-playing Luongo might be at home in Vegas, his goaltending style doesn’t truly fit Dave Prior’s known preferences.
Los Angeles Kings
Under Contract: Jonathan Quick* (2023, NTC), Jeff Zatkoff (2018) and Jack Campbell (2018)
Eligible RFA: None
Another team with a relatively straight forward approach to the expansion draft, with Jonathan Quick remaining the Kings number one, while new signings Jeff Zatkoff and Jack Campbell are both eligible to be included in the expansion draft. Neither should be expected to be taken.
Under Contract: Devan Dubnyk* (2021, NTC), Alex Stalock (2019)
UFA: Darcy Kuemper
Eligible RFA: None
Ineligible: Stephen Michalek, Adam Vay
Dubnyk’s NTC doesn’t require the Wild to protect him but obviously they will. He’s a clear starter who clawed his way back from a hole and had given Minnesota above-average goaltending for the past three seasons.
Stalock spent most the of past season in the AHL while Kuemper backed up Dubnyk. As has been noted above, there’s no hurry to sign (or re-sign) an NHL backup as long as there’s an expansion draft eligible goalie on the roster, and Stalock and Vay fulfill that requirement.
Under Contract: Carey Price* (2018), Al Montoya (2019)
Eligible RFA: None
Ineligible: Charlie Lindgren, Zachary Fucale and Michael McNiven
Will Montreal protect their perennial Vezina contender? You bet your sweet bippy. Besides, he has a NMC.
Montoya isn’t a likely candidate for Vegas at any rate, with players like Joonas Korpisalo, Petr Mrazek, and Marc-Andre Fleury available.
Under Contract: Pekka Rinne* (2019, NMC)
Eligible RFA: Marek Mazanec
Ineligible: Juuse Saros, Jonas Gunnarsson
Despite his recent decline, Rinne, a cult hero among Preds fans, is protected via his No Movement clause.
Juuse Saros’s ineligibility for the draft means that they will need to tender Marek Mazanec a qualifying offer in the next few days. There’s not much risk for the Predators in this, as Mazanec isn’t expected to be high on Vegas’s want list.
New Jersey Devils
Under Contract: Cory Schneider* (2022, NTC)
UFA: Keith Kinkaid
Eligible RFA: Scott Wedgewood
Ineligible: MacKenzie Blackwood and Ken Appleby
There’s only one outcome the Devils need to worry about: protect Cory Schneider.
That may mean qualifying Scott Wedgewood or offering Keith Kinkaid a short term extension. Either would give them someone to expose and a backup goaltender in 2017-18.
New York Islanders
Under Contract: Jaroslav Halak (2018), Thomas Greiss* (2020)
UFA: Jean-Francois Berube
Eligible RFA: Christopher Gibson
Ineligible: Eamon McAdam, Stephon Williams
A return to form at the World Cup of Hockey was supposed to re-establish Halak as the Islanders’ number one, but the continued fallout over the team’s decision to run with three goaltenders has soured the relationship between Halak and the franchise. The team sent him to the AHL in December and he didn’t return until March.
Thomas Greiss’s efforts the past two years are partly why Halak may have become expendable in New York, with the German netminder earning a three-year contract in January. The club’s management seems fond of Berube despite his struggles this season, but they’ll almost certainly protect Greiss (and their investment.)
New York Rangers
Under Contract: Henrik Lundqvist* (2021, NMC), Antti Raanta (2018)
Eligible RFA: Mackenzie Skapski
Ineligible: Chris Neil, Brandon Halverson
The contract status of Lundqvist and Raanta make the Rangers’ situation relatively straight forward, regardless of what they do with the rest of their depth chart – they have a clear number one goaltender who they will protect, and they have someone under contract that they can expose in order to meet the necessary criteria.
For his part, Antti Raanta is exactly the kind of young goalie a franchise might acquire to use as a trade asset down the line, if they don’t need him in a backup position. And it could give Raanta the kind of opportunity he won’t realize backing up a starter like Lundqvist.
Under Contract: Craig Anderson* (2018) and Andrew Hammond (2018)
UFA: Mike Condon
Eligible RFA: Chris Driedger
Word came on Wednesday that the Senators will not tender Matt O’Connor a qualifying offer, making him a free agent. This has no effect on the Senators’ expansion draft — they’re expected to protect Craig Anderson — but it is a window on their goaltending future.
Andrew Hammond missed most of the year with three different injuries, culminating in a torn labrum in February that required surgery. As this isn’t considered a career-threatening injury, Hammond is still technically eligible for the draft. The club is reportedly working on a contract with Mike Condon, though nothing has come of it yet.
Under Contract: Michal Neuvirth (2019)
UFA: Steve Mason
Eligible RFA: Anthony Stolarz*
Ineligible: Alex Lyon and Carter Hart
Philadelphia has gotten itself into a bit of a pickle in terms of their goaltender depth. Steve Mason, their starter for the past three seasons, is almost universally considered to be on his way out of town, but as a UFA, he isn’t eligible for the draft. Neuvirth is, though, and Stolarz will be if he’s qualified in time.
The expectation is that the Flyers would prefer not to lose Stolarz, so they’ll expose Neuvirth. Of course that doesn’t solve their depth issue for the upcoming season, so there’s a very, very slim possibility that there’s another signing in the next day or so that could change the outlook here.
Under Contract: Marc-Andre Fleury (2019, NMC) and Matt Murray* (2020)
Ineligible: Sean Maguire and Tristan Jarry
The bombshell came earlier this week that Marc-Andre Fleury waived his NMC and agreed to be exposed in the draft all the way back in February. It’s a hell of a gesture on his part, as it allowed the franchise to keep all their young talent for their Cup run and protect Matt Murray in the expansion draft.
Fleury would, in fact, be quite a pickup for the Golden Knights. A veteran, a team player, a Cup winner, and a good mentor to any young talent they acquire. In addition, Fleury’s game in the past was the kind of style that Las Vegas goalie coach Dave Prior is known to prefer. There’s no guarantee that he’ll end up in Vegas, but it has to be considered a likely scenario.
San Jose Sharks
Under Contract: Martin Jones* (2018), Troy Grosenick (2019), Aaron Dell (2018)
Eligible RFA: None
Ineligible: Mantas Armalis
Like some other teams, San Jose has a clear number one in Jones and two others who can be made available in the draft. There’s no intrigue in net here.
St. Louis Blues
Under Contract: Jake Allen* (2021), Carter Hutton (2018)
Eligible RFA: Jordan Binnington
Ineligible: Ville Husso, Luke Opilka, Evan Fitzpatrick
St. Louis will almost certainly protect Allen in the draft, and will likely come through the weekend with their depth chart intact.
Ville Husso performed fairly well with the AHL Chicago Wolves this past season, but he remains ineligible for the draft. Jordan Binnington has put up numbers at just around league average for his entire AHL career and he’s no longer exempt from waivers. Vegas will probably look elsewhere.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Under Contract: Andrei Vasilevskiy* (2020)
UFA: Peter Budaj, Mike McKenna
Eligible RFA: Kristers Gudlevskis
Ineligible: Connor Ingram
The Lightning had been trying for some time to trade Ben Bishop to make room for Andrei Vasilevskiy and in February they finally did, swapping Peter Budaj from Los Angeles for the big guy. In expansion draft terms, it doesn’t make much difference as both were pending UFAs who’d need a new contract to be exposed in the draft.
It’s the minor league trade of Adam Wilcox for Mike McKenna that matters. Kristers Gudlevskis never quite turned the corner from project goaltender to consistent minor-league starter, so Steve Yzerman re-acquired McKenna, who carried the AHL Syracuse Crunch to the Calder Cup Final. Everyone seems happy to continue the arrangement.
The team will need to either qualify Gudlevskis (unlikely) or sign McKenna or Budaj to a new contract in the next few days to meet the requirements for the draft.
Toronto Maple Leafs
Under Contract: Frederik Andersen* (2021)
UFA: Curtis McElhinney
Eligible RFA: Garret Sparks, Antoine Bibeau
Ineligible: Kasimir Kaskisuo
Having invested heavily in Andersen during the summer, it would be extremely surprising if Toronto did not move to protect the Danish puck stopper.
The likelihood is that one of Sparks or Bibeau will be qualified prior to the expansion draft. Finding a fourth for the depth chart can wait until more pieces fall into place.
Under Contract: Jacob Markstrom* (2020), Richard Bachman (2018)
UFA: Ryan Miller
Eligible RFA: None
Ineligible: Thatcher Demko and Michael Garteig
Like Minnesota, Vancouver managed to avert a potential disaster by signing Richard Bachman to a one-year extension this summer; not that the 29-year-old didn’t use the situation to his advantage, scoring a $450,000 AHL salary in 2017-18.
This allows the team to protect Markstrom and, if the tea leaves can be read clearly, let Miller walk.
Under Contract: Braden Holtby* (2020)
UFA: Pheonix Copley
Eligible RFA: Philipp Grubauer
Ineligible: Vitek Vanecek, Adam Carlson
Another club with a clear number one they’d seek to protect, but a question mark over how they fulfil their requirement to expose at least one netminder.
Re-signing Copley to a short term deal or qualifying Grubauer are both legitimate options. Either way it’s not ideal, as losing either would mean losing good depth. Grubauer has shown he can provide more than ample cover for Holtby should he be sidelined or rested. Copley is a highly touted prospect who is still exempt from waivers, which would allow Vegas some desperately needed roster flexibility.
Under Contract: Michael Hutchinson (2018)
UFA: Ondrej Pavelec
Eligible RFA: Connor Hellebuyck*
Ineligible: Eric Comrie and Jamie Phillips
The Jets finally appeared to tire of the Ondrej Pavelec experiment this year, and the path was cleared for Connor Hellebuyck to take on the starter’s load. His performance was, overall, dismal, but the Jets are expected to protect him for the draft and hope he can rise with them over the next several years.
It means they risk losing Michael Hutchinson, who could be an able backup in the NHL, but Hellebuyck has to be the club’s priority.
Of course everything in this depends on the strategy the Golden Knights choose to follow. Will they go for youth or veterans or a mixture of the two? They will be choosing between three and
six seven goalies this weekend. Who will Vegas choose? A poll of the InGoal staff gave the following results:
- Marc-Andre Fleury
- Philipp Grubauer
- Antti Raanta
- Joonas Korpisalo
Also getting mentions were Malcolm Subban, Linus Ullmark, and Petr Mrazek, assuming no pre-draft trade materializes to change his eligibility.