Last week the NHL announced it would be expanding the league from 31 to 32 teams, with Seattle being awarded a franchise that would begin play in the 2021-2022 season. The first question that almost all non-Seattle fans thought was: How will this expansion draft affect my favorite team? This is a big question and one on the top of all fans minds, due not only to the prior expansion draft being fresh in everyone’s mind, but also due to the success that Vegas had in their first season.
First, let’s take a look at the rules from the 2017 expansion draft as a refresher per NHL.com (it has been confirmed that Seattle will have the same rules as Vegas):
The following rules were approved for the 2017 Expansion Draft:
* Clubs will have two options for players they wish to protect in the Expansion Draft:
a) Seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender
b) Eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender
* All players who have currently effective and continuing “No Movement” clauses at the time of the Expansion Draft (and who to decline to waive such clauses) must be protected (and will be counted toward their club’s applicable protection limits).
* All first- and second-year professionals, as well as all unsigned draft choices, will be exempt from selection (and will not be counted toward their club’s applicable protection limits).
Player Exposure Requirements
* All Clubs must meet the following minimum requirements regarding players exposed for selection in the Expansion Draft:
i) One defenseman who is 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.
ii) Two 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.
iii) One 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. If the club elects to make a restricted free agent goaltender available in order to meet this requirement, that goaltender must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the club’s protected list.
* Players with potential career-ending injuries who have missed more than the previous 60 consecutive games (or who otherwise have been confirmed to have a career-threatening injury) may not be used to satisfy a club’s player exposure requirements, unless approval is received from the NHL. Such players also may be deemed exempt from selection by the League.
To summarize: each team can protect either 7 forwards, 3 defenseman, and 1 goaltender, or 8 skaters and 1 goaltender. Each team must expose 2 forwards and 1 defenseman under contract for the season after the expansion draft (in this case, the 2021-2022 season) as well as anyone who had played in 40 games in the prior season or 70 games in the prior two seasons.
Each team must expose 1 goaltender under contract for the season after the expansion draft or a RFA. Players with continuing NMCs (the use of continuing is important here) must be protected.
All 1st and 2nd year professionals are exempt. 11 games in the NHL for players under 20 years old is required for that season to count as a professional year.
With those rules now established, the following are the players that will be under contract with the Ducks during the 2021 expansion draft:
- Ryan Kesler
- Adam Henrique
- Rickard Rakell
- Hampus Lindholm
- Josh Manson
- Cam Fowler
- John Gibson
One of the most important pieces of information as it pertains to this group of players is that none of them have to be protected in the expansion draft. Ryan Kesler currently has a full no-movement clause, but that changes to a partial no-trade clause in the 2021-2022 season. Only full no-movement clauses are required to be protected under the expansion draft rules.
Now you may be thinking, “Well, those are the majority of the players you want to protect, so the Ducks will be just fine.”
Not so fast. This list only begins to paint the picture of the expansion draft scenario the Ducks will find themselves in, due to so many contracts expiring prior to the 2021-2022 season like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Andrew Cogliano, etc. For the purpose of this article, I am going to assume that none of the UFAs will be re-signed prior to the draft, but all of the RFAs will be resigned (I could see Getzlaf and the Ducks doing something similar to the Sharks and Thornton, which was Thornton being unsigned and exposed in the expansion draft, and then him being resigned in the summer).
The following are the players of importance that will hit RFA status either prior to the expansion draft or right after it:
- Ondrej Kase
- Nick Ritchie
- Kiefer Sherwood
- Daniel Sprong
- Pontus Aberg
- Isac Lundestrom
- Troy Terry
- Max Jones
- Sam Steel
- Jack Kopacka
- Brandon Montour
- Jacob Larsson
- Jake Dotchin
- Josh Mahura
- Andy Welinski
Now it becomes a bit more clear that the Ducks are going to have some tough decisions on their hand come 2021. A lot rides on how guys like Lundestrom, Terry, Steel, and Jones develop. If they all become NHL regulars that the Ducks must protect, then they will most likely lose a good defensemen. The following are my assumed 7F/3D/1G and 8 skater/1G lists for the Ducks if those players become NHL regulars.
7 Forwards/3 Defensemen/1 Goaltender:
Forwards: Rakell, Kase, Ritchie/Jones, Henrique, Lundestrom, Terry, Steel
Defenseman: Lindholm, Manson, Fowler
8 Skaters/1 Goaltender:
Skaters: Rakell, Kase, Terry, Steel/Lundestrom, Lindholm, Manson, Fowler, Montour/Mahura/Larsson
As you can see, in either scenario the Ducks are set to lose a good player. In 7/3/1 option, the Ducks would lose either Josh Mahura, Jacob Larsson, Brandon Montour, etc. In the 8 skater option, the Ducks would lose either Adam Henrique, Josh Mahura, Brandon Montour, Jacob Larsson, Isac Lundestrom, Nick Ritchie, etc.
A lot can change over the next few seasons, but based on this projection, the Ducks are set to lose someone of importance and there is not an obvious way to stop this from happening. They got burned slightly in the prior draft by making a deal with Vegas to save a player they could not protect.
In the upcoming draft, the team might just have to come to terms with the fact that they will lose 1 player of importance and try not to compound the issue by overthinking it (cough Panthers cough).
For a more in depth look at each and every player on the Ducks in regards to the expansion draft, check out our Anaheim Calling Patreon! Felix and I dive into this topic on the most recent bonus episode.