One of the big topics at this week's GM meetings in Boca Raton has been the potential for an upcoming expansion draft. GMs have kept asking about the rules for the first expansion draft of the salary cap era, and it looks like they finally got their wish.
Expansion draft potential. Each team has option of protecting 3d, 7F and I goalie or 8 skaters +1 goalie. Expansion determined before draft— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) March 16, 2016
GM's told expansion decision expected before June draft. If expand by 1 team, each team loses 1 player...if two teams, 2 players.— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) March 16, 2016
In addition, it was made clear that players who have completed two or fewer pro seasons will not be eligible. Similarly, unsigned drafted players will be ineligible unless it has been more than two years since they were drafted.
From here, the question naturally flows to who the Ottawa Senators would protect. Nichols over at The 6th Sens did some good work on this on Wednesday. My goal in this exercise is to look at what the Sens will do, not necessarily what I think they should do. The main assumption is that the expansion draft will take place in summer 2017, ahead of the 2017-18 season. I'm also assuming that players like Scott Gomez, Michael Kostka, and Chris Phillips (remember him?) are gone, Chris Neil will be gone, and all three of Zack Smith, Alex Chiasson, and Mike Hoffman will be on longer extensions. Players who will still be RFAs in 2017 will still be with the team.
In any situation, the obvious choices for the Sens to keep are Erik Karlsson and Mark Stone. With the team getting to keep one goalie, I predict they keep Craig Anderson unless his play falls off a cliff next year. The team has to protect exactly one goalie, and Andy is the only one who has shown he can be an NHL starter. If his play falls off, then the Sens are in an interesting scenario in which no goalie really deserves protection. Would they just leave all their goalies unprotected and see how the cards fall?
Right under EK and Stone, Kyle Turris and Mika Zibanejad are the most obvious to be protected. From here, things get interesting. Following the three D, seven F format that lets you protect the most players, I think the Sens would choose to keep Marc Methot and Cody Ceci on D, and then Clarke MacArthur, Mike Hoffman, Bobby Ryan, and Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Most interestingly, this would leave Curtis Lazar open. Players like Nick Paul, Max McCormick, Ryan Dzingel, and Matt Puempel would also be left open, but Lazar is definitely the most intriguing. The only other option I think is that the Sens leave MacArthur open to keep Lazar. Either way, the choice would be telling about how the franchise values leadership vs. youth. Zack Smith would also be left open, but I'm guessing the Sens would assume he wouldn't be taken, and would rather lose him than any of the other options. Alex Chiasson would also be left open, but nobody would take him, so it really wasn't even worth bringing up.
Some would argue Ryan shouldn't be kept, because people worry about his contract becoming an albatross long-term. The problem is that I don't think NHL teams rarely think long-term. Ryan's value in the league I still think is high, and I doubt the Sens would risk losing him. For better or for worse, the Sens have committed to Ryan for a while.
There is a potential wrinkle for the Sens, in that players with no-move clauses likely can't be lost through expansion. The Sens haven't signed an NMC, but the Maple Leafs gave them out like candy at one point, and that means Dion Phaneuf possesses one. Because the NHL doesn't like NMCs, it's looking likely that teams with a player with an NMC will be forced to protect them, rather than give teams an extra player who can't be claimed even though he's not protected. If the Sens are forced to make Phaneuf a keeper, that likely leaves Marc Methot as unprotected, and probably the guy Ottawa loses. If the Sens decide to keep four defencemen instead, suddenly they can only keep four forwards too. The team would essentially have to choose between Hoffman, Ryan, or Methot as the guy they lost. I really don't know who they keep.
Some have said that NTCs may also come into play. If that happens, the Sens would be forced to protect Methot, Karlsson, and Neil (if he's still around). I don't see any scenario in which the Sens leave Cody Ceci unprotected, and so they'd most definitely go four defencemen and four forwards. That brings the choice back to Ryan vs. Hoffman.
In that sense, it looks like the Sens are hoping the league doesn't punish them for having Phaneuf with an NMC. If the NMC doesn't matter, the Sens risk losing Phaneuf, MacArthur, or Lazar. If it does matter, that ups the stakes to Methot, Ryan, or Hoffman. I think the Sens were hoping a year ago that Andrew Hammond would be claimed. But with no team able to protect more than one goalie, there will be many better options in net. I'd say, get ready to see Captain Methot of your Las Vegas Black Aces.
- Amazingly, there's only been one game since the last Nuggets, a come-from-behind OT win over the Wild [Silver Seven, Rank the Performances, SensChirp]
- Callum has your Five Thoughts this week [Silver Seven]
- We're looking for mailbag submissions. Send us your questions! [Silver Seven]
- A re-design of the Sens' jerseys by a couple local designers [SensChirp]
- Francis Perron signed an ELC with the Sens [Silver Seven, 6th Sens]
- Rob Feature looks at five defencemen who are better than Karlsson [Bonk's Mullet]
- Your latest episode of the Sens Callups podcast: March Madness [SCU]
- A couple FanPosts to share. First, from Senatorsrock65, another look at what the Sens should do re: expansion [Silver Seven]
- Second, by andymack, a comparison of Hoffman and Ryan, who are closer in age than you think [Silver Seven]
- Scanlan looks at the reasons for the Sens to keep playing hard [Ottawa Citizen]
- Cam Cole is not happy with the new expansion rules [Ottawa Citizen]
- Kevin Spacey may drop the puck at Saturday's Panthers game, which is all kinds of awesome [Sportsnet]
- Travis Yost looks at what leads to a drop in ice time for players. Interestingly, shooting percentage seems to be the biggest factors for both forwards and defencemen [TSN]
- How well does save percentage describe a goalie's talent? [SportsDay]
- Why Sean Monahan's season isn't disappointing [Today's Slapshot]
- Robin Lehner was disappointed Ben Scrivens wouldn't fight him, and issued an open invitation for a fight anytime in the future. If I were Scrivens, I'd probably never leave my room [Die by the Blade]
- If you don't read Down Goes Brown all the time, you really should. From earlier this week, he looks at five players who could have been on different teams if one game went differently, changing the team rankings for the draft lottery [The Hockey News]