On Sunday, all 30 NHL teams currently with rosters submitted their protected lists for the Expansion Draft. A few notes on this before delving into some important names:
- Vegas has reiterated a few times that just because a player is unprotected does not mean they will select said player. Teams could have a deal in place with the Golden Knights to keep a certain player they left exposed, so just because a player isn’t protected doesn’t mean he’s leaving.
- Players that are RFA or UFA that would have been eligible for the expansion draft can now be contacted and negotiated with by Vegas only.
- Reaching the salary floor is not a requirement for the Golden Knights in their first year of existence. For that reason, they are not guaranteed to take your favourite team’s bad contract, especially without compensation.
- First and second-year professional players are exempt, which means they are not in need of protection.
With that out of the way, here are some players who caught my eye as being unprotected by their team. The full list can be seen here:
New Jersey decided to go with the 4-4-1 route, and that left the 35-year-old winger exposed. He has two years left on his contract with an average annual value of $5 million.
Cap implications aren’t something the Golden Knights really need to concern themselves with, given they only need to reach 60 percent of the floor. Whether the team want to spend the money is another matter, but Cammalleri is still in effective scorer – over his three seasons in New Jersey, his goals per 60 minutes (0.75) at five-on-five is the same as Wayne Simmonds and Jeff Carter.
Injuries are always something to consider with Cammalleri, but given the lack of scoring that will available, he is perfectly suited as a short-term fit on an expansion team.
As a Habs fan, this is exceedingly frustrating. A deal may be in place that keeps Hudon in the organization with Montreal giving something to Las Vegas in the form of a pick or prospect, but it does indicate this – they value Paul Byron and Andrew Shaw more than Hudon.
Having not been given a real chance at the NHL, it’s no surprise at the pecking order here for Montreal. He has been good in his time in the minors, though: in his last 123 AHL games, he has 55 goals, and was top-10 in the league in goals per game for 2016-17. Allowing him to be taken in the Expansion Draft would be a mistake.
Should he head to Vegas, however, he would finally be given his opportunity to flourish. His dynasty owners, one way or the other, should start getting value from him next season.
One year, one year, after a four-year, $18 million deal, Brouwer finds himself possibly heading to Las Vegas. This contract was a disaster from the start, for both the Flames and his cap league owners.
I have no real reason to have him listed here other than: lol. There is a lot that can be said about his intangibles, I’m sure, but it would be a blessing to Calgary if Las Vegas can take this contract off their hands. Speaking of bad contracts, shout out to Carl Soderberg being exposed by the Colorado Avalanche. The reason he’s exposed is because the contract is so horrific there is no chance George McPhee takes him. What a franchise.
The Islanders protected five defencemen because why not. This left Brock Nelsom, Josh Bailey, and Strome exposed to expansion (again, without knowing of any side deals).
Perhaps Strome has not developed into the player the Islanders had hoped, but he has a higher points per 60 minutes rate over the last three seasons than players like Derick Brassard, Alex Steen, and Ryan Johansen (not to mention a few star players in the same range like Patrice Bergeron and Nathan MacKinnon). He can help teams score, and as mentioned with Cammalleri, that is going to be important for the Golden Knights in the short-term. He has one year left on his deal, and that makes it worth it for Las Vegas; if he proves himself, you can extend him. If not, he can be let go.
Seeing the young Russian on the protected list is very important here. This would indicate the Stars think he’ll be back in the next year or two. His dynasty owners have been hoping for him to eventually be the top-line right winger for Dallas, and it would appear that opportunity is still present. This summer will be telling.
Without a side deal in place, it seems likely that Dumba will be selected from the Wild. That is a double-edged sword for his fantasy owners as he will finally be given top-pairing minutes, which did not seem likely in the near-term for Minnesota. Those type of minutes, however, coming on an expansion team may not be a huge boon to his offensive production.
There has to be a side deal in place here, right? There’s no way Ken Holland values Jimmy Howard, with that contract, over Petr Mrazek, right? This just doesn’t make sense without Vegas having already agreed to not selecting Mrazek. It does muddle things in the Detroit crease for next season, however, with neither goalie appearing to have a leg up on the other. Another season of riding the hot hand seems likely, or Mrazek will be on the short list to be the starter for the Golden Knights.
I am very interested to see what happens with the Rangers here. There are a few players worth taking, but I can’t imagine Vegas passing up on Raanta. We will have to wait, however, on which other goalies they select. Just because Raanta ends up with a new franchise doesn’t necessarily mean he will be immediately offered the starter’s role.
There are a lot of other interesting names left unprotected, like Colin Miller, Nate Schmidt, the Anaheim Boys, whatever it is Florida is doing, and Dmitrij Jaskin. What surprised you? Let us know in the comments.
Apparently, this is a thing:
If dumping salary is at genesis of Eberle trade, which it is, then Oilers fans won't like return. Still see being unprotected as an option
— Mark Spector (@SportsnetSpec) June 17, 2017
I wrote earlier this month about how giving up on Eberle would be kind of foolish for Edmonton. If they absolutely need to rid themselves of some salary because of future contracts like Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl, then so be it. If they rid themselves of some salary to overpay a defenceman – let’s call Rris Kussell – then they are making a giant mistake. We’ll see what they actually end up getting back, but trading top-line forwards in back-to-back seasons probably doesn’t work out well for any team, even a team with McJesus on the roster.
The injuries that are finally revealed when the season ends is always a fascinating experience. Guys are playing with broken bones, torn ligaments, whatever else may be the problem. One such name that came out on Saturday night was Anaheim centre Ryan Kesler:
Because they're the world's most interesting team: Kesler hip surgery last week, needs 12 wks recovery.
— Curtis Zupke (@curtiszupke) June 17, 2017
According to Mr. Zupke, the surgery was to clean some bone fragments out of his hip area. An expected recovery time of 12 weeks would put him in the middle of September, or ready for training camp.
That Kesler will be ready for the start of the season seems likely, barring setbacks. That Kesler will be 100 percent in game shape for the start of the season, however, is far from certain. At this point of the offseason, most players are already back in the gym training for 2017-18. Setting Kesler back three months is obviously going to be a hindrance here. All this fails to mention that he turns 33 years old in August.
It was a very good fantasy campaign for Kesler, who saw six-year highs in assists, points, and power-play points. He also played over 21 minutes per game, the most he had been asked to play since arriving in Anaheim. He needed nearly 1740 minutes of ice time to reach 58 points. It will be interesting to see how his recovery goes, and where fantasy owners start picking him in fantasy leagues. He was probably going to see some pullback in production numbers, so an additional decline in performance due to injury and fewer minutes could hurt even more.
By no means am I anywhere close to finalizing projection for next season; doing so before free agency is a fool’s errand. There’s a reason Dobber always releases his initial draft guide in July!
I can’t help but think that Cory Schneider is going to be a good value in fantasy drafts next year, however. There are very few goalies we can accurately describe as both elite and proven, and Schneider fits those descriptors. He posted three straight seasons with a save percentage over .920 since arriving in New Jersey. In that span, he had the same five-on-five save percentage as Braden Holtby, and the same adjusted save percentage as Corey Crawford. He nonetheless cratered to a .908 all-situations save percentage in 2016-17.
We’ll see what his ADP is, but most goalies have at least one bad year. The Devils should improve, however marginally, in the offseason as well. He almost certainly will be outside the top-12 goaltenders in fantasy drafts, and if I can grab him as my second goalie, that is a risk well worth taking.
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