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NHL releases expansion draft protection lists: Hurricanes expose Niederreiter, Bean

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There was a surprise or two on the Hurricanes’ protection lists.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Carolina Hurricanes - Game Five Photo by Gregg Forwerck/NHLI via Getty Images

Wednesday night this week, the NHL’s newest team, the Seattle Kraken, will have a chance to select one player from 30 of the league’s existing franchises (Vegas is exempt), and each team submitted its protected lists yesterday. Here’s the Canes’ list of players protected and exposed:

Protected

Sebastian Aho (F)
Jesper Fast (F)
Warren Foegele (F)
Jordan Staal (F)
Andrei Svechnikov (F)
Teuvo Teravainen (F)
Vincent Trocheck (F)
Brett Pesce (D)
Brady Skjei (D)
Jaccob Slavin (D)
Alex Nedeljkovic (G)

Available

Morgan Geekie (F)
Steven Lorentz (F)
Jordan Martinook (F)
Max McCormick (F)
Brock McGinn (F)
Nino Niederreiter (F)
Cedric Paquette (F)
Sheldon Rempal (F)
Drew Shore (F)
Spencer Smallman (F)
Jake Bean (D)
Jake Gardiner (D)
Eric Gelinas (D)
Jani Hakanpaa (D)
Dougie Hamilton (D)
Maxime Lajoie (D)
Roland McKeown (D)
Joakim Ryan (D)
David Warsofsky (D)
Antoine Bibeau (G)
Jeremy Helvig (G)
Petr Mrazek (G)
James Reimer (G)
Dylan Wells (G)

A few thoughts on these lists:

  • Obviously the most surprising move is the Hurricanes exposing Nino Niederreiter. This is obviously a move made with potentially clearing cap space in mind - as Niederreiter’s hit for next season is $5.25 million. However, he only has one year left, and is coming off a great bounce-back year that saw him finish second on the team with 20 goals in 56 games. His power game and finishing ability were definitely missed when he was out for part of the series against the Lightning.

Niederreiter is definitely worth a look for Seattle with just a year left on his deal. Given his cap hit and some of the other forward talent left exposed by other teams, it’s probably still more likely Francis takes a player like Jake Bean, but this is still a calculated gamble on the Hurricanes’ part for sure. It would be interesting to see what they did with the available cap space if Niederreiter did get picked.

  • One of the biggest decisions here was whether to use the third slot protecting a defenseman on Brady Skjei or Bean. Bean is a young player who will come a lot cheaper than Skjei with a lot of upside, but Skjei proved himself a valuable member of the Canes’ top four down the stretch. I definitely think protecting Skjei is the right choice. Given the uncertainty about whether or not Dougie Hamilton will return, the team simply couldn’t afford to risk losing two top-four defensemen in the same offseason.
  • Given the rumors that he and the Canes are far apart on a new deal and he could move on, it’s somewhat surprising to see Warren Foegele’s RFA rights protected over all of Niederreiter, Morgan Geekie and Steven Lorentz. Perhaps the Hurricanes plan on re-signing Foegele after all, or they think they can get a good return in a trade for his rights.
  • I still think Francis’ most likely choice from the Canes is Jake Bean. He had his struggles in the second half of the season and in the playoffs, but defenseman is a pretty tough position for a rookie to excel at. He’s a player Francis himself drafted in the first round, is a skilled offensive defenseman with upside and the potential to quarterback a power play, and should come fairly cheap as a pending RFA this summer. That’s going to be tough for Seattle to pass up.

If I had to rank the most likely candidates to be selected, it would be:

  • Jake Bean
  • Nino Niederreiter
  • Morgan Geekie
  • Dougie Hamilton (Seattle can negotiate with him, and if it signs him, he’d count as the selection from the Canes)
  • Steven Lorentz

Seattle will make its selections Wednesday night at 8 p.m. and the expansion draft will be televised on ESPN.