F: Josh Anderson, Brendan Gallagher, Jesperi Kotkaniemi, Tyler Toffoli, Jonathan Drouin, Arturri Lekhonen
D: Jeff Petry, Joel Edmundson, Ben Chiarot
G: Jake Allen
Notable exposed: Philip Danault (UFA), Joel Armia (UFA), Brett Kulak, Carey Price, Paul Byron, Jake Evans
Selection: Brett Kulak
With the recent news that Montreal had asked Carey Price to waive his No Movement Clause for to the Expansion Draft, coupled with the ground-breaking news regarding Shea Weber’s injury, everything seems to be making sense for the Montreal Canadiens.
Initially, it seemed they were hell bent on saving their top-4 defensemen and likely headed for the 8-1 formula. Now it would be almost a no brainer to go the traditional 7-3-1 route, as the Canadiens won’t be protecting their bottom pair guys at this junction.
This leaves Brett Kulak as the only real option for Seattle, and that’s no disrespect to Kulak. I sincerely doubt Carey Price will be taken here, as it makes little sense for Seattle to take him at this junction of their existence and Price’s career. Kulak will serve them quite well or can easily be flipped to a team for an asset, given his Cap friendly contract.
**8 Skaters and 1 Goalie**
S: Luke Kunin, Ryan Johansen, Filip Forsberg, Calle Jarnkrok
D: Roman Josi, Philippe Myers, Mattias Ekholm, Dante Fabbro
G: Juuse Saros
Notable exposed: Mikael Granlund (UFA), Matt Duchene, Rocco Grimaldi, Colton Sissons, Yakov Trening
Selection: Yakov Trenin
Like in 2017, they likely opt for the “8 Skater 1 Goalie” method in order to protect their defensemen and top-end forwards.
This leaves Seattle with the choice between Trenin, Grimaldi and Sissons as realistic targets. Trenin would make the most overall sense for the new club, as he is a versatile forward, capable of playing wing or center, and still has a good amount of potential to still tap into.
Playing on a new expansion team could allow him to play Center if need be and play in a top-9 setting on a regular basis. He has shown to step up in in clutch situations and could very well put up respectable offensive numbers in a no pressure environment.
New Jersey Devils
F: Nico Hischier, Adreas Johnsson, Miles Wood, Jesper Bratt, Pavel Zacha, Michael Mcleod, Yegor Sharangovich
D: Ryan Graves, Damon Severson, Will Butcher
G: Mackenzie Blackwood
Notable exposed: Jonas Siegenthaler, David Quenneville, Nick Merkley, PK Subban
Selection: Nick Merkley
New Jersey being in the midst of a rebuild also has a grand majority of their valuable assets in the form of prospects or young, exempt players. Seattle would be looking for assets with some upside and Nick Merkley has a little bit of that.
Acquired by New Jersey in the Taylor Hall trade in 2019, Merkley put up 10 points in 27 games, which surprised many. It goes to show, when given the chance, that Merkley could have a positive impact on the offensive side of the puck.
In an expansion setting, he could get an opportunity to play a more offensive role and play in an environment that doesn’t demand immediate excellence. Ultimately, I feel GM Ron Francis would have confidence that Head Coach Dave Hakstol could help Merkley find the next gear in his game.
New York Islanders
F: Matthew Barzal, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Kieffer Bellows, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Josh Bailey, Anthony Beauvillier
D: Scott Mayfield, Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech
G: Semyon Varlamov
Notable exposed: Jordan Eberle, Cal Clutterbuck, Matt Martin
Selection: Jordan Eberle
The Islanders are rather deep at forward, especially with the like of Oliver Wahlstrom and Kieffer Bellows looking to take on more responsibility at the forward level. Although Nick Leddy could be an attractive option at this point, the opportunity to get a sure top-6 player in Jordan Eberle for free is too hard to pass up.
Eberle would likely be put in a top offensive situation in Seattle, while they also look to him for his leadership qualities for their new expansion club. Meanwhile, the Islanders save 5.5 million on the Salary Cap for next season in order to prepare themselves to sign some key guys.
New York Rangers
F: Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad, Ryan Strome, Chris Kreider, Pavel Buchnevich, Filip Chytil, Barclay Goodrow
D: Jacob Trouba, Ryan Lindgren, Libor Hayek
G: Alexandar Georgiev
Notable exposed: Julien Gauthier, Kevin Rooney, Anthony Bitetto
Selection: Julien Gauthier
Julien Gauthier is the easy selection here from the Rangers. Many of their best young pieces (Kakko, Lafrenière, Fox, etc) are all exempt, and thus it leaves slim pickings for Seattle.
That being said, Gauthier is still a young piece that could potentially find his game with Seattle. He’s a controlled RFA that was recently signed to a very friendly deal. The writing seems to be on the wall here.