Now that the Rangers roster is settled we look at the Seattle Kraken expansion draft

Last week’s the New York Rangers signed both Ryan Strome and Brendan Lemieux. It also signaled that they were set with their lineup for next season. That means the team now needs to look ahead to the NHL Expansion Draft.

Rangers and the Seattle Expansion Draft

The Seattle Kraken remain on target to have its inaugural season begin with the 2021-2022 season. The process of putting a team on the ice begins with the NHL Expansion Draft. That date remains to be determined.

The Expansion Draft will have implications within the Rangers locker room, as they will lose one player to the Kraken. To begin a discussion with whom the team should or should not protect, we first should break down the complicated formula used to determine how a player can be protected from the Expansion Draft.

Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft Rules

Current NHL teams can protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goalie, under the following conditions.

That is the simple part of the process, it gets more complicated once you factor in the next few components.

  • All players with no-movement clauses at the time of the draft, and who decline to waive those clauses, must be protected and will be counted toward their team’s applicable protection limits.
  • All first- and second-year NHL players, and all unsigned draft choices, will be exempt from selection (and will not be counted toward protection limits.

To add to this madness, NHL teams must meet minimum requirements to expose players to the draft.

  • One defenseman who is a) under contract in 2021-22 and b) played in at least 40 NHL games the prior season or played in at least 70 NHL games in the prior two seasons.
  • Two forwards who are a) under contract in 2021-22 and b) played at least 40 NHL games the prior season or played in at least 70 NHL games in the prior two seasons.
  • One goalie who is under contract in 2021-22 or will be a restricted free agent at the end of his current contract immediately before 2021-22. If a team elects to make a restricted free agent goalie available to meet this requirement, that goalie must have received his qualifying offer before the submission of the team’s protected list.

What this means for the Rangers roster

eligible rangers for the seattle expansion draft
Howden (AP Photo: Kathy Willens)

Looking at the team’s roster, four players are automatically protected based on their contracts. On the offensive side, Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejead, and Chris Kreider will not be exposed because they all possess a no move contract. Jacob Trouba is the lone defenseman that has an NMC in his contract and must be protected as well.

Goaltender Igor Shesterkin will be exempt from the draft also as he falls under the category of a second-year player. Other players that are exempt will include; Kaapo Kakko, Alexis Lafreniere, Adam Fox, K’Andre Miller, Vitali Kravtsov, and Tarmo Reunanen to name a few high profile players.

Who to protect and expose?

Jeff Gorton and John Davidson have a few tough decisions to make on who to protect or expose.

In goal, the easy choice is to protect Alexandar Georgiev. The Rangers will expose goalie Keith Kinkaid in the draft. It’s a pretty straightforward situation and the main reason why the Blueshirts picked up the 31-year goalie this offseason.

On the blueline, the team will be able to protect two more defensemen. The first one will be Ryan Lindgren who played in 60 games last season. The 22 year-old is just seven games shy of qualifying under the 40/70 requirement to be protected.

Anthony DeAngelo will be the third protected defenseman. He just signed a new two-year, $9.6 million contract in October ($4.8M AAV). DeAngelo is coming off a 53 point season last year that included 38 helpers.

Of course that means Libor Hajek would be exposed to Seattle. It is unlikely that the Kraken would chose the 22 year-old defender.

It may come down to Howden or Strome

Now for the fun part of this game. In order to pick four more forwards to protect, it would be nice to look into the old magic 8 ball. Will players like Ryan Strome, Brett Howden, Pavel Buchnevich, or Filip Chytil have a productive season in 2020-2021? Since this is not possible, we should look at the stats to help make an informed decision today.

My four picks to protect are Filip Chytil, Ryan Strome, Brendan Lemieux, and Pavel Buchnevich. Things can change rapidly. If Strome doesn’t have the kind of production this season he had last season, I anticipate he would be exposed in the draft.

For Buchnevich this will be another chance to show he is a consistent impact player the Blueshirts. He found the back of the net 16 times last season was on pace to score 20 goals for the second time in his career.

Only one player will be chosen to head to Seattle. However, the ramifications of that loss could have a ripple effect throughout the organization. Contract extensions, trades and minor league transactions will all be the result of losing one player to in the Expansion Draft.

The best way for guys like Strome and Howden to ensure themselves of being protected, is to go out and do what they are supposed to do on the ice every game. No one can argue with that logic and the Kraken might end up with one the Blueshirts better players on opening night 2022.

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