NHL Expansion Draft: Ottawa Senators bloggers pick the team’s keepers

Who do the online pundits want to keep around?

NHL expansion is coming. We’re only three days away from the reveal of the Ottawa Senators’ (and everybody else’s) protected lists. In the meantime though, it’s fun to think about who we’d want to be protected. Since I’m far from an expert, I reached out to the Sens blogging community for their picks. Below you’ll find the aggregated results as well as some quotes from everyone involved. A big thank you to all who responded:

Colin, Peter, Trevor, Callum, Beata, and Ross (me) from Silver Seven; Pan on behalf of Sens Callups; SensNation; Chet Sellers and Luke Peristy of Welcome To Your Karlsson Years (and their eponymous podcast); Peter Levi of Eye on the Sens;

So here are the results:


Goalie — Craig Anderson
Defencemen — Erik Karlsson, Dion Phaneuf (no-move clause), Fredrik Claesson
Forwards — Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, Kyle Turris, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Derick Brassard, Ryan Dzingel, Zack Smith

Now obviously, we could end the article here, but that would be no fun. So here’s digging a little deeper into the choices.

Unanimous Decisions

Everyone picked Craig Anderson as their goalie, hardly surprising since Andrew Hammond is the only other goalie under contract after July 1st. Erik Karlsson was also a given, as well as Dion Phaneuf thanks to his NMC.

As for forwards, everyone would’ve guessed Stone, Hoffman, and Turris as requirements. What was interesting to me is that the only other unanimous selection was Pageau. Either we’re riding high on his playoff performance, or we see it as a sign that Boucher’s starting to trust him and he’s paying off.

Ceci vs. Claesson

Apologies to Marc Methot, but outside of Pan’s 4-4-1 protection plan (more on that below), nobody chose him. People were split over whether to protect Cody Ceci, who the organization and likely the league seems to value more, and Fredrik Claesson, who has been a statistical beast who proved what he could do down the stretch in the playoffs. In the end (not surprisingly), the bloggers picked Claesson. It’s also interesting that Chris Wideman didn’t get a single vote when he was probably the bloggers’ fav for most of the year, only to disappoint a bit in the playoffs.

Trevor: “It was tough deciding between Methot and Claesson, but I'd rather lose the guy with the bigger cap hit. Freddy can replace him for much cheaper.”

Peter Raaymakers: “[They protect Ceci] and they trade something (a pick?) to Vegas to make sure they take Wideman or Claesson instead of Methot.”

Ary: “Ideally, the Sens trade Ceci for a forward...” presumably to avoid losing him for nothing.

Peter Levi: “This list assumes Ceci is traded ahead of time (which I would do), otherwise I think you're forced to keep him in order to not lose him for nothing.”

Chet: “I protect Ceci over Methot because I don't think Vegas takes Methot - I think they take Wideman or Claesson being younger and cheaper - and I would prefer to get a trade return for Ceci than lose him for nothing. And if the Senators were to trade Ceci (which they probably won't), his trade value will be higher after the expansion draft when a) the Senators have less pressure to move him and b) the other team wouldn't need to spend a spot protecting him.”

Pan: “I’m very tempted to look at protecting 4 D.  This isn’t necessarily due to Cody Ceci being good (let’s face it - he struggled hard this season and I feel it’s that he isn’t doing well with transitioning to The System™) but more so in regards to organizational depth as well as ‘resale value’.”


The forwards chosen above were almost unanimous, with Smith being subbed out for Clarke MacArthur on one list, and obviously the 4-4-1 protection leaving out a few. No one wanted to protect Bobby Ryan’s horrible contract, even after an impressive playoffs, and it seems that Smith holding down the penalty kill and Dzingel’s speed have most of hoping to keep them. I was actually very surprised how much consistency there was in the forward keepers.

Chet: “My ideal approach would be to give Vegas enough assets (e.g. first-round pick, Dzingel, Wideman) to get them to agree to take Bobby Ryan, then trade a package with Ceci for a forward (especially since Chabot is on the way). The chance of this happening is probably less than zero.”

Peter Levi: “I only care about the first 5 forwards, but since I have to fill out the slots that's the best I can do.”


Everyone picked the 7 F, 3 D, 1 G model except for one: Pan, from Sens Callups. He was pretty clear in his reasoning, so I’ll just let his words speak for themselves.

“Considering that the Sens were an Eastern Conference finalist, the win now mentality is key.  Thomas Chabot will definitely be ready in two seasons, possibly may compete for a spot for this season coming up, but let’s be careful in rushing young players - especially defencemen.  So, [the] question you have to ask yourself, [considering] where the team is: would you trade Methot, the only player to successfully partner with Erik Karlsson and who is very close friends with the captain for a young Ceci? As Alfie said once, “probably not”.  By protecting 4 defencemen, we’re now limited to only protecting 4 forwards.  Considering that we wouldn’t trade Methot for Ceci, would you trade Ceci for Smith, a 29 year old good bottom 6 LW/C with $3.25 AAV for 4 years remaining?  Doubtful.  Would you trade Ceci for Derick Brassard, a 30 year old coming off a terrible season and just had a serious injury?  I don’t think so.  Lastly, would you trade Ceci for Ryan Dzingel, a young and speedy forward who looks to be more one dimensional, sometimes soft on the puck and was a healthy scratch at points in the playoffs?  It’s close but doubtful again.

“Dzingel is an attractive piece to the Knights, and protecting 7 forwards and 3 defencemen would force Vegas to select the best available defenceman, and thus the Sens to lose a better player either for the team or for trade options.  That said, if Vegas chooses Brassard or Smith, that gives the team a bit more money to work with in the future.  Here’s hoping for a good trade because I’ve never forgiven the team for trading Damian Rhodes to Atlanta.”

Ahh, the nostalgia.

Final Questions

And that does it! Here are a couple more thoughts I had after this exercise.

Doesn’t the consistency show that the Sens blogging community is an echo chamber / an exercise in groupthink?

Probably. I mean, most people who get into writing on the internet these days probably spend a bunch of time on the internet. It means that most of us are spending more time with stats than the average fan. Maybe it’s a reflection of us reinforcing each others’ ideas, maybe we’re just all really smart.

Has Chris Wideman’s stock really fallen that sharply?

I was shocked too. After a year of the stats community arguing him as the most underused defenceman on the team (and possibly the second-best on the team), he was nowhere to be found. The related question is what if Fredrik Claesson is just a flash in the pan? We have 63 games of NHL data on Claesson and 140 on Wideman. Most of Wideman’s were great, just not most recently. Claesson underwhelmed early. Both had extensive time spent in the AHL. It’s mostly shocking because 4 months ago, Wideman probably would’ve been the consensus pick.

In the end, it’s hard to know without five more years of knowledge about their futures. I considered voting for Wideman just to be contrarian, but realized I probably shouldn’t tailor my list after looking at everybody else’s.

What about trades?

These are hard to predict. If Ottawa could trade Ceci as the main piece in a package for Matt Duchene, they’d probably do it. The problem, as suggested by Pan and others above, is that right now the prices won’t be good. People know they’re helping you, and to paraphrase Elliotte Friedman, if GMs see you drowning they start by throwing anvils. I doubt we’ll see many trades at this point. However, they’re definitely feeling things out, and Dorion’s shown he’s not cautious when it comes to trading.

What about buyouts?

Who would you buy out? With the Rangers buying out Dan Girardi this comes to the forefront of our minds, but the biggest candidates just had a monstrous playoffs (Bobby Ryan) and have an NMC so you can’t buy them out (Dion Phaneuf). This team just went to the Eastern Conference Finals. They’re not going to buy out Marc Methot, deployed as their number-two defenceman, for expansion considerations.

Didn’t you give a huge boost to Silver Seven by giving them half the voting spots?

Obviously. It’s my own blog. So sue me.

Are the Sens actually going to do this?

No. There’s no way the team protects Claesson over both Methot and Ceci. I also wouldn’t be surprised to see MacArthur protected instead of Dzingel, who seemed to lose Boucher’s trust near the end (a key goal in ECF Game 7 excepted).

Full Voting Table

And finally, here’s how everybody actually voted.

Ottawa’s Expansion Protected Players

ColinPeterTrevorCallumBeataIanRossSens CallupsSensNationChetPeter Levi

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