The 2017 NHL Expansion Draft is an exciting process. If you’re too riled up to wait until the lists are officially submitted in the morning, you’re in luck. As could be expected, information leaks are flooding in on who was and wasn’t protected by their teams ahead of the deadline this afternoon. This list will be updated all night long as more news comes in:
- Isabelle Khurshudyan of the Washington Post was the first reputable source to release her team’s protection list, as she confirmed the Washington Capitals’ names not long after the 5:00 PM ET deadline. The lists includes the expected names: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Marcus Johansson, Lars Eller, Tom Wilson, Matt Niskanen, John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov, and Braden Holtby. While not surprising, the list does not include long-time Jay Beagle, promising young players Nate Schmidt and Brett Connolly, and a oft-rumored target of the Golden Knights, backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer.
- L.A.-based hockey writer John Hoven got the list of protected players for the Los Angeles Kings, which confirms that they will indeed protect eight-skaters, including four defenseman, rather than the 7/3 protection scheme. Among the safe are Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson, Drew Doughty, Jake Muzzin, Alec Martinez, and the key decision, Derek Forbort. Star goalie Jonathan Quick was also obviously protected. While the Kings succeeded in protecting the most valuable players on the roster, they still have left defenseman Brayden McNabb and a large assortment of forwards including Trevor Lewis, Nic Dowd, and Nick Shore open to selection.
- Sportsnet’s Eric Francis, who covers the Calgary Flames, has some key names for his team as well. Francis confirmed that the Flames did not protect 2016 free agent acquisition Troy Brouwer, but did opt to save younger assets like Sam Bennett, Micheal Ferland, and Curtis Lazar. Although Francis stops there, the rest of Calgary’s list is somewhat self explanatory with newly-acquired goalie Mike Smith, defensive core of Mark Giordano, T.J. Brodie, and Dougie Hamilton, and cornerstone forwards Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Michael Frolik, and Mikael Backlund as obvious choices.
- One not so obvious choice has been made in Nashville. Adam Vingan of The Tennessean answered a question on the minds of many, reporting that the Predators did in fact protect forward Calle Jarnkrok. With the rest of the eight-skater list all but set in stone with goalie Pekka Rinne, defensemen Roman Josi, P.K. Subban, Ryan Ellis, and Mattias Ekholm, and star forwards Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen, and Viktor Arvidsson, the final forward spot came down to Jarnkrok, signed long-term, or James Neal, an elite scorer with just one year remaining on his contract. It seems that Neal will be open for selection, alongside names like Colton Sissons, Colin Wilson, and Craig Smith. Vignan adds that no deal has been struck between Vegas and the Predators to protect any of those players, with Nashville especially liking to retain Neal and Sissons.
- Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported that, interestingly enough, young Detroit Red Wings defenseman Xavier Ouellet was not protected by his team. This is the first real surprise of the expansion process and the first protection news that doesn’t match up with PHR’s Expansion Primer projections. The 23-year-old skated in 66 games this season for Detroit, third most among defenseman, and his 12 points tied that of top-pair man Danny DeKeyser. Yet, Ouellett will not join DeKeyser and Mike Green in protection, instead beaten out by another teammate. GM Ken Holland, who has gotten the reputation of perhaps being too loyal, possibly chose aging veteran Niklas Kronwall over Ouellet. Hopefully that doesn’t come back to bite the rebuilding Red Wings.
- Another name confirmed to be unprotected is young Vancouver Canucks center Brendan Gaunce. Vancouver sports anchor Rick Dhaliwal was told that that Gaunce, a 2012 first-round pick, did not make the protection list for the Canucks, expected to be a 7/3 format, meaning that the team saw him as outside the top seven forwards on the team. The 23-year-old two-way specialist has upside, but after registering just five points in 57 games last season, no one will blame Vancouver for that choice.