What promises to be an intriguing offseason for the St. Louis Blues begins with the expansion draft on July 21, when the new kids on the block, the Seattle Kraken, will select one player from thirty teams (Vegas is exempt from the expansion draft) to form their inaugural roster. Each team will protect seven forwards, three defensemen, one goaltender, or ten skaters, and one goaltender. Today, we’ll be previewing who the Blues will most likely protect and which Blues could be on their way to the Pacific Northwest.
Considering the current roster construction, the Blues will most likely protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie. Given the immediate success, the Golden Knights experienced following the 2017 expansion draft, teams like the Blues will look to be even more cautious about who they will and won’t protect. While the Blues were lucky enough to be able to re-sign David Perron after his one-year stint with Vegas, it’s safe to say that he and other forwards of his caliber will not be left unprotected a second time.
The seven forwards the Blues will most likely protect starts first and foremost with the captain, Ryan O’Reilly. The former Conn Smythe and Selke winner has two years left on his contract at a modest $7.5 million AAV and surely is not going anywhere anytime soon. Vladimir Tarasenko‘s future with the club is up in the air, however, the team will not want to lose him for nothing, forcing them to protect the veteran winger. As previously mentioned, David Perron, the team’s leading scorer last season, will surely be protected. With one year left on his deal, he is likely a contract extension this summer. Speaking of extensions, Brayden Schenn signed an eight-year extension early this season and will undoubtedly be protected. Youngsters Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou will need to be protected, as losing either of them would make an already “slow” team even slower in a league where speed is growing more important by the year. This leaves one more forward to protect, which will most likely be Oskar Sundqvist. “Sunny” has proven to be a critical part of the Blues’ lineup the past few seasons, as exemplified by the team’s difference in record with him in and out of the lineup.
St. Louis will be able to protect three defensemen, and most Blues fans will agree that the three defenders they can’t afford to lose are Justin Faulk, Torey Krug, and Colton Parayko. While some may argue that leaving Krug unprotected could rid the club of a long-term contract, Krug is simply too good of a player to lose for nothing. Just a year ago, many fans were unhappy with Justin Faulk’s contract, which goes to show how much difference a year in a new system can make, so look for the Blues to protect Krug and bank on a second-year jump similar to Faulk’s. Parayko has long been viewed by the organization as a cornerstone defenseman, and after the departure of Alex Pietrangelo last offseason, they will look for him to be the man shutting down the opposition’s top line on a nightly basis.
As for the goaltending, it is obvious that Jordan Binnington will be protected after signing a six-year contract extension this season. This leaves Ville Husso unprotected, though Seattle will have plenty of more attractive options around the league to choose from.
If the Blues indeed protect this list of players, the ones Seattle will get to choose from including forwards Ivan Barbashev, Zach Sanford, and Sammy Blais, along with defensemen Vince Dunn, Marco Scandella, Niko Mikkola, and Jake Walman. Alternatively, if Seattle signs pending UFAs Jaden Schwartz, Tyler Bozak, or Mike Hoffman during their early negotiating window, that would count as their pick from the Blues.
Teams will need to submit their protection list on July 17 and a lot can change between now and then, but it appears this will be the list of players the Blues will make sure they keep away from Seattle GM Ron Francis.
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