As I mentioned a couple of days ago, the gurus of SB Nation have decided to perform a mock expansion draft. The two expansion cities are signed, sealed, and set to go along with the franchise names. (Apparently, most folk who voted are traditionalists as the "new" teams will be the Winnipeg Jets and the Quebec City Nordiques.)
The general managers of each of the clubs were introduced to the public on Tuesday and Gabe Desjardins will be making the draft selections for the Jets while James Mirtle will be building the new and hopefully improved Nordiques.
The next step in this process is for the current NHL teams to submit protected player lists. The good news for the Canes is that several of their players do not need protecting. According to the league mandated rules, any players who have less than 49 games of NHL experience are automatically exempt from the process. This would include Zach Boychuk, Jamie McBain, Zac Dalpe, Drayson Bowman, Jerome Samson, and several other prospects who hope to make the roster this fall.
But hard choices still need to be made.
Once again, the rules that teams must abide by are as follows:
- Teams can protect either "1 goalie, 5 defensemen and 9 forwards" OR "2
goalies, 3 defensemen and 7 forwards."
- If you go the two goalie route, at least one goalie left unprotected must
have played in at least 10 games last season OR 25 games in the last two
seasons combined. One game = at least 31 minutes.
- Each team must leave unprotected at least one defenseman who appeared in
40 games last season OR 70 games in the last two seasons combined.
- Each team must leave unprotected at least two forwards who appeared in 40
games last season OR 70 games in the last two seasons combined.
- Players who have played in 49 or fewer games are automatically exempt and
do not need to be protected.
Ground rules on drafting:*
- Each expansion team selects 30 players. A total of 60 players will be
- The first 26 picks are to be used on three goaltenders, eight defensemen
and thirteen forwards.
- The final four picks can be used to pick a player at any position.
- Only one goalie or one defenseman can be selected from each existing team.
- Team must be compliant with the salary cap.
It's a no-brainer that the Hurricanes would protect goalie Cam Ward. The other goalies in the system don't qualify, so don't need to be protected.
The definite protected defensemen would include, Tim Gleason, Joni Pitkanen, and Joe Corvo. Jamie McBain, Bobby Sanguinetti, and
Jay Harrison do not need protecting, they don't qualify. (Correction: Harrison is eligible for the draft because he has played more than 49 games in his career, but he does not qualify for being the mandated unprotected defenseman bcause of too few games played in the last two years. In that case, we might as well put him on the protected list.)
That leaves Anton Babchuk and Brett Carson, one of whom would need to be left unprotected.
The protected forward list will include Eric Staal, Brandon Sutter, Tuomo Ruutu, Jiri Tlusty, and Jussi Jokinen. There might be some discussion about the next three, but I'm also going to protect Erik Cole, Sergei Samsonov, and Chad LaRose. That leaves Tom Kostopoulos and Patrick Dwyer available for the draft. (We are only protecting eight forwards, but just ten qualify for the draft and we must leave two of them unprotected).
As acting Hurricanes general manager, I feel pretty comfortable about the forward selections, although I'm open to suggestions and feedback in the comment section.
But I'm having trouble deciding between Babchuk and Carson. Both bring different skill sets to the team. Last season, the choice would have been to protect Babchuk because the team needed help on the powerplay. But this season, the Canes have plenty of options for offense and perhaps Carson's stay-at-home mentality is more valuable.
Babchuk makes $1.4 million and has more skill but Carson only makes $500,000 and might be the better bargain. Another factor to keep in mind is that Babchuk might have more trade value if the Canes are in a position to trade players for assets like they did at the trade deadline last season, especially if he goes on a scoring binge like he did two years ago.
Which one do you save?