New York Rangers need to protect Colin Blackwell in Seattle Expansion draft

By Anthony Scultore
Mar 28, 2021; Washington, District of Columbia, USA; New York Rangers center Colin Blackwell (43) scores a goal against Washington Capitals goaltender Ilya Samsonov (30) during the third period at Capital One Arena. Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

Colin Blackwell was an under the radar signing by Jeff Gorton last season. He signed a two-year deal worth $750,000 per year. Blackwell’s year one was a two-way deal earning $350,000 if he were sent to the AHL (or taxi squad). In 2021-22, it’s a one-way deal only. He’s worth every penny.

Colin Blackwell is a perfect fit

David Quinn was admonished at times for using Blackwell on the second line with Artemi Panarin and Ryan Strome. Too many people ignored his production simply because they wanted to see Kaapo Kakko get more ice time. Simply put, he was effective and deserving of the ice time.

The 28 year-old forward scored 12 goals and 22 points in 47 games last season and proved to be versatile playing 4th line minutes when needed. Although small at 5-9, Blackwell is a tenacious forechecker with speed who views every shift as if it could be his last. He’s exactly what the Rangers bottom six lacks.

Looking at the direction the Rangers are going this summer, Blackwell is a perfect fit financially. That’s because Chris Drury needs to keep the cap under control as they make some additions via trade and signings. Having a utility forward making $750,000 is just another good reason to protect him in the expansion draft.

The Kraken would likely take Blackwell if he’s unprotected

colin blackwell
May 6, 2021; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; New York Rangers center Colin Blackwell (43) during the first period against the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Colin Blackwell just recently added a strong World Championship tournament to his profile. He scored four goals and registered a +5 rating while wearing an “A” on his sweater in 10 games. Team USA captured the Bronze on Sunday and he played a pivotal role to lead the team throughout.

I currently project that the Rangers will expose the following players: Tony DeAngelo, Brett Howden, Julian Gauthier, Kevin Rooney, and Keith Kinkaid.

If so, the choice for Ron Francis and Seattle will come down to Howden and Gauthier. Should Drury opt to protect Howden or Gauthier, Seattle would almost assuredly take Blackwell. Why? For all the reasons I just laid out above.

Not every pick the Kraken make in expansion will be about competing a few years down the line. Not after the immediate success the Golden Knights had building a win-now team with an eye towards the future. You can expect Seattle to take the same approach.

Bottom line, there’s plenty of unknowns before the July 21st expansion draft. Will the Rangers make any trades before that date? The talk in hockey circles is that Jack Eichel is going to be moved before that date. If the Rangers were to acquire him, it’s fairly certain it will take at least one of the current protected roster players. So Eichel would simply slot in the same spot.

That’s why I say the Rangers need to protect Blackwell. It just makes too much sense for them not to do so.

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