The expansion draft will go down in June 2021. According to NHL.com, the rules will be the same as they were for the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Seattle must select one player from each NHL team excluding the Golden Knights (14 forwards, nine defencemen, and three goalies). All players with no-movement clauses must be protected (unless player waives clause). All first and second-year player players are ineligible. Teams must also abide by rules with exposing players. Each team must expose one defenceman and two forwards under contract for 2021-22 season and played in 40 games the season prior to or 70 games within the past two seasons. Teams must also expose one goalie under contract for the 2021-22 season. A team can elect to expose a restricted free agent goalie. But said goalie must obtain a qualifying offer sheet prior to submission of the team’s protected list.
Canucks Possible Protections
With the roster as is the Canucks have plenty of tough decisions to make. They have two options for protecting players. They either protect eight skaters and one goalie or seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie. We will run on the expectation that Jacob Markstrom, Alexander Edler, and Chris Tanev get contract extensions prior to the expansion draft.
Protected: Elias Pettersson, Bo Horvat, Brock Boeser, J.T. Miller, Adam Gaudette, Jake Virtanen, Loui Eriksson (NMC, if Eriksson waives his clause, Antoine Roussel), Tyler Myers (NMC), Alex Edler, Chris Tanev, and Jacob Markstrom.
Exposed: Jay Beagle, Tyler Motte, Josh Leivo, Thatcher Demko, and either Eriksson or Roussel. Micheal Ferland could be included but if his concussion symptoms do not get better, he will be ineligible.
With DiPietro being exempt from the draft, it should be in the Canucks’ best interest for the Canucks to move one of their goalies. The obvious choice should be Demko, as he would fetch more in the market. He should be able to fetch draft picks in order to save space for players in need to be protected.
The Canucks should also refrain from trying to reel in any big-name free agents. However, with the team looking to contend they can expose Virtanen, Tanev, or Leivo.
Who is Heading to Seattle?
Worst case scenario: Thatcher Demko will be high on Seattle’s draft board if he is left exposed. If the Canucks cannot strike a deal to send Demko elsewhere, they will be seeing him with the new rivaled Seattle team, that is not a thing Canucks fans would like to see. Pittsburgh could also be leaving goalie Matt Murray unprotected, which would give Seattle a competitive battle for the crease.
Alright case scenario: Josh Leivo would be the next top player left exposed if Demko is not. Leivo is a solid second-line forward, but, unfortunately, the Canucks will not have the space to protect him. Since joining the Canucks in 2018, he has scored 17 goals and added 20 assists in 85 games played. Since joining the Canucks, he has meshed well with Horvat on the second line. Although it would be a hard hit to the second line, it would not be as bad as losing Demko.
Best case scenario: Loui Eriksson. Eriksson carries a hefty price tag on his contract, sitting at $6 million per year. And he would have to waive his no-movement clause. The Canucks would likely need to send some compensation Seattle’s way. However, fans would not be to upset to see them send a first-round pick, maybe a little more, to Seattle, if it meant $6 million off the books. Fans should not be getting their hopes up that he will be taken, but it should be in the back of their minds.
2021-22 cannot come fast enough. Seattle may not start out as the Golden Knights did, but they could start off stronger than other expansion franchises did. And the Canucks seem to be heading up. With these factors, the teams could be set for a fierce rivalry for years to come. If Seattle manages to get a quality fan-favorite, that will add fuel to the fire. Time will tell who the Canucks lose in the expansion draft.
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