One of the clauses in the expansion draft rules states that players still under contract but not expected to play again due to long-term or chronic injury will be exempt from the draft. In some cases, that allows a team that would normally need to protect them because of a no-movement clause to use that slot on someone else, or at least to avoid going through the paperwork to have them waive it. CapFriendly reports that this year, 18 players have been deemed exempt from the draft:
Ryan Kesler, Anaheim Ducks
Marian Hossa, Arizona Coyotes
Brandon Dubinsky, Columbus Blue Jackets
Brent Seabrook, Chicago Blackhawks
Andrew Shaw, Chicago Blackhawks
Stephen Johns, Dallas Stars
Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings
Corey Crawford, New Jersey Devils
Luca Sbisa, Nashville Predators
Johnny Boychuk, New York Islanders
Matt Niskanen, Philadelphia Flyers
Zach Trotman, Pittsburgh Penguins
Alex Steen, St. Louis Blues
Marian Gaborik, Tampa Bay Lightning
Anders Nilsson, Tampa Bay Lightning
Micheal Ferland, Vancouver Canucks
Bryan Little, Winnipeg Jets
Henrik Lundqvist, Washington Capitals
Note that some of these players will be unrestricted free agents anyway, but their contracts for 2020-21 do not technically expire until after the expansion draft occurs.
The biggest takeaway here is in Chicago, where Seabrook holds a no-movement clause. The veteran defenseman is not expected to ever play again thanks to debilitating injuries, but he now also won’t need to officially waive his clause for the Blackhawks to protect someone else. Seabrook’s contract still has three more years on it and will cause a few complications for Chicago in regards to long-term injured reserve, but for all intents and purposes, he is retired.
Sbisa is also an interesting name to see among the list, given he played a game against Dallas in late January. The 31-year-old unfortunately suffered a concussion and as Adam Vingan of The Athletic tweets, has still not been cleared. He is an unrestricted free agent and is now ineligible for the expansion draft.