Expansion Draft Preview: East Division Update

Teams in the East Division spent the past week wrangling and wrestling to massage their rosters in advance of submitting their protected lists for the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft. Boston and Buffalo stayed quiet; here is a summary of the action.

New Jersey Devils

New Jersey got the Screw-The-Kraken party started on Thursday, with a blockbuster trade that moved Colorado defenseman Ryan Graves to the Devils, sending back prospect Mikhail Maltsev and a 2nd round pick in 2022. This was a clear and decisive dick punch by Colorado GM Joe Sakic, aimed squarely at Ron Francis and his first round pick ransom for expansion draft deals.

For this, may the Hockey Gods strike down Avs’ blueline phenom Cale Makar with an affliction that causes him to hallucinate sea monsters and cower in fear whenever he enters a hockey rink. The medical term is, “Krak’naphobia.”

At any rate, the pickin’s out of New Jersey are still dog crap, with the Devils likely to throw some considerations at Seattle to get fashion mogul defenseman P.K. Subban out of their area code. Honestly, the best option for Seattle would be to choose a pending unrestricted free agent and forget that the Devils even exist.

New York Islanders

The carnage on Saturday was unpleasant, but it was made bearable by the fact that the New York Islanders took one of my most hated players out of contention for expansion draft selection. Nick Leddy is now a member of the Detroit Red Wings, so he will be neglecting his duties in their defensive zone instead of Seattle’s. Leddy is a winger disguised as a defenseman, and his frequent Bobby-Orr-inspired up-ice rushes — where he turns the puck over in the offensive zone and gets caught miles out of position while yielding the opponent a quality scoring chance — are enough to make you smash your television. Detroit will doubtless protect him, as they have so few players worth selecting you genuinely feel sorry for them.

The only other transaction off the Island was New York bribing Arizona with not one, not two, but three mid-round draft picks to take Andrew Ladd’s LTIR contract off their hands. The protected list for New York substitutes Scott Mayfield for Leddy, but otherwise remains unchanged. Richard Panik, acquired from Detroit in the Leddy deal, becomes an interesting option for Seattle.

New York Rangers

Two small transactions here: Tampa Bay made their only appearance of the day by moving the signing rights to forward Barclay Goodrow to the Rangers for a 7th round draft pick in 2022; and the Rangers rid themselves of forward Brett Howden, sending him to (not Las) Vegas for a 4th round pick. Goodrow will likely remain unsigned until after the expansion draft, leaving the Rangers’ protected list in tact. Expect the Kraken to give a long look to right-shot center Colin Blackwell, who is a cost-effective option for the bottom six.

Philadelphia Flyers

The Flyers started out July by announcing that Jakub Voracek was on the trading block, which tipped their hand at their protected list. Exposing Voracek is now pretty much a given, which allows them to protect power forward James Van Riemsdyk, considered a lock for selection by the Kraken. Voracek has a cost-prohibitive contract at $8.25 million AAV for another 3 years, so don’t look for Seattle to be giving that much consideration without a significant sweetener or some retained salary.

The other move the Flyers made came on Saturday, shedding youth to gain experience by sending defenseman Philippe Myers and forward Nolan Patrick to Nashville in exchange for top-pairing defenseman Ryan Ellis. Other than acquiring a quality defender in Ellis, this all appears to be geared towards putting pressure on Seattle to take a bad contract off Philly’s hands — either Voracek, or dwindling defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere. Here’s hoping Ron Francis takes them to the cleaners if he is in the mood to oblige them.

Pittsburgh Penguins

The Pens did a minor deal on Saturday, sending foward Jared McCann to Toronto for a 2023 7th round pick and prospect Filip Hallander (who, ironically, they traded to Toronto in the Kasperi Kapanen deal last year). This opens up a protected slot for Pittsburgh, who will likely use it to shield left winger Zach Aston-Reese. Our expectation is that Seattle gives a long look to whichever goaltender is exposed; either Tristan Jarry or Casey DeSmith would be coveted by teams looking for an upgrade between the pipes.

Washington Capitals

The biggest news out of the nation’s capital was that they did not move a goaltender. Washington will be forced to expose either Ilya Samsonov or Vitek Vanecek, and both hold the potential to be on the Kraken roster in October, or at the very least provide value in a trade scenario. Plainly the Caps have resigned themselves to losing one or the other, with Vanecek likely to be the odd-man out. As we mentioned in our Caps’ preview, Vanecek is not the savior many suggest he is, but could develop into a 1-B in the short term.

Author: Tim Currell

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