Expansion Draft Preview: Central Division Update

Every Central Division team except Carolina has been busy in the past week, here is a summary of the action.

Chicago Blackhawks

Unless you have been living under a rock, you have already heard of the trade that sent defenseman Duncan Keith and his no-movement clause to Edmonton. This was done at Keith’s request, with co-parenting considerations foremost in his mind. The worst news is that we will be seeing more of him in Seattle after the divisions all reset to their normal alignment and Edmonton moves back out west.

At any rate, youngster Caleb Jones replaces Keith on Chicago’s protected list, leaving the usual suspects exposed as we outlined several weeks ago. Possible remaining choices from the Blackhawks include dependable utility forward Ryan Carpenter; Vancouver Canucks outcast Adam Gaudette; expensive but still capable stay-at-home defenseman Calvin de Haan; and goaltender Malcolm Subban.

Columbus Blue Jackets

The only news of substance out of Columbus is the report — as yet unconfirmed — that forward Max Domi will be left unprotected by the Blue Jackets. If true, clearly ‘Lumbus is counting on Domi’s $5.3 million AAV salary and his pissy reputation being deterrents to the Kraken. They aren’t wrong — having a head case who decides from one day to the next who he will or won’t play for is no way to start off a franchise.

It’s unfortunate, because left wing Eric Robinson would have been a quality acquisition for the Kraken, and it now looks like he will be out of reach. The most likely choice now becomes RD Dean Kukan, who could attract some suitors in a trade scenario.

Dallas Stars

The week got started in Dallas by goaltender Ben Bishop waiving his no-movement clause for the expansion draft, allowing the Stars to protect Anton Khudobin while still retaining backup/1-B netminder Jake Oettinger who is exempt. Bishop’s knee injury situation is plainly so severe that he does not anticipate returning to the form that earned him his $4.9 million AAV contract. As such, the Kraken lose one option in goal.

Dallas twisted the knife a little more on Saturday, when they sent forward Jason Dickinson to Vancouver for a 3rd round pick. We had projected Dickinson as claiming a protected slot, and his departure means the Stars are able to protect center Joe Pavelski. Pav and Dobby were two very solid options for Seattle, and now they’re both out of reach. This leaves bottom-six center Tanner Kero as the de facto selection — to say this is a downgrade is perhaps the understatement of this off-season to date.

Detroit Red Wings

Only one deal on tap for Detroit, but it was a doozy. The Wings acquired defenseman (ha!) Nick Leddy from the New York Islanders in exchange for Richard Panik and a draft pick. Leddy then gets protected in Detroit, and hallelujah for that — our newly-minted franchise doesn’t want to start its life burdened by a $5.5 million AAV blueliner throwing blind passes in front of his own goal every night.

Detroit’s protected list remains largely unchanged, with defenseman Troy Stecher remaining as the only worthwhile selection. If there is trade value in acquiring defender Filip Hronek, he may also be a potential target — though with such abysmal plus-minus numbers I hope he is sent packing if acquired.

Of course, he does play for Detroit, so perhaps I judge him too harshly…

Florida Panthers

No trades for Florida this month, but they were very active in the contract department. Rookie GM Bill Zito bought out the contract of Joel Quenneville doghouse denizen Keith Yandle, then re-signed forward Anthony Duclair and defenseman Gustav Forsling. This likely puts Forsling in contention for a protected slot, potentially exposing Markus Nutivaara in addition to aging and expensive blueliner Anton Stralman. Hopefully Ron Francis leans towards bottom-six battering ram Mason Marchment, and away from his former Carolina draft pick Lucas Wallmark.

Nashville Predators

The Preds got things started two weeks ago, sending forward Viktor Arvidsson to the Los Angeles Kings for a pair of draft picks. This shortened their list of exposed forwards, but it turns out they were hardly done. On Saturday they moved a big piece of their back end puzzle, sending top-pairing defender Ryan Ellis to the Philadelphia Flyers for forward Nolan Patrick and defenseman Philippe Myers. They then moved Patrick out to the Golden Knights for prospect Cody Glass.

On the surface this may seem unremarkable, but it could actually be a tectonic shift in the Predators’ approach to the expansion draft. We now predict that Nashville will switch off the 8-and-1 protection scheme, and instead go with the 7-3-1, taking three forwards off the exposed list for Seattle. Veteran blueliner Mattias Ekholm is likely to be in the running for selection, as is young defender Alexandre Carrier. A dark horse choice may be backup goaltender Connor Ingram, who has shown he can deliver in the AHL and may be ready to make his NHL debut.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Just one small deal for Tampa on Saturday, moving pending free agent Barclay Goodrow to the Rangers for a 7th round pick. This obviously does nothing to alleviate the Bolts’ salary cap nightmare, so expect a deal to be announced with the Kraken on Wednesday — hopefully one that brings more than one roster player to Seattle. Stay tuned…

Author: Tim Currell

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