After Tuesday’s news of the Zach Parise and Ryan Suter buyouts dropped a bombshell on the Mock Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft project, I’m hoping for a much calmer Wednesday while continuing on to the Eastern Conference with the Atlantic Division. If you missed either the Pacific or Central Division protection projections, you can find the links at the end of this article.

Home to both 2021 Stanley Cup participants, the Atlantic should be a very competitive division next season, even after the expansion draft. Tampa Bay will be losing a key piece of their back-to-back Cup runs while the Canadiens have protection questions of their own. It’s possible no division has more goaltending talent potentially exposed than the Atlantic, but each of them comes with some considerable risk.

I’ll be revealing the Metropolitan Division protection list Thursday then posting the full Mock Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft on Friday.CapFriendly’s Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft Simulator A huge thank you to , which was an incredible help while putting this together!

Here are the Atlantic Division lists:

Boston Bruins Protection List

 

Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft

 

FORWARDS
DEFENSEMEN
GOALTENDERS
Patrice Bergeron ** Brandon Carlo Dan Vladar
Charlie Coyle ** Matt Grzelcyk
Brad Marchand ** Charlie McAvoy
Jake DeBrusk
Trent Frederic
David Pastrnak
Craig Smith

 

** = player has an NMC and must be protected

 

It may be a surprise to see that Tuukka Rask and Taylor Hall are left off of Boston’s protection list. However, because pending unrestricted free agents (UFAs) do not need to be protected, teams can, in a way, keep extra players in the fold by protecting players under contract while continuing to negotiate contract extensions for those players. While Seattle has the opportunity to negotiate with those players before the expansion draft so they could sign once selected, the players and their agents ultimately decide whether or not to sign those deals or re-sign with their original clubs (or test free agency outright).

This is exactly what Boston will do with Rask and Hall. Both should be Bruins next season, and they get a virtual “extra protection” by being able to wait until after the expansion draft to re-sign with Boston, keeping more of the team together. It’s a smart play and should keep Boston in the mix to make the playoffs for the sixth straight season.

Notable Exposed Players: Hall (UFA), Rask (UFA), Jaroslav Halak (UFA), Jakub Zboril, Jeremy Lauzon, Curtis Lazar.

 

Buffalo Sabres Protection List

 

Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft

 

FORWARDS
DEFENSEMEN
GOALTENDERS
Rasmus Aplund Rasmus Dahlin Linus Ullmark (UFA – may still be unprotected)
Anders Bjork Henri Jokiharju
Jack Eichel Rasmus Ristolainen
Casey Middlestadt
Victor Olofsson
Sam Reinhart
Tage Thompson

 

** = player has an NMC and must be protected

 

What’s that you say? The team that tied an NHL record with 18 consecutive losses and hasn’t made the playoffs in a decade doesn’t have much to offer up in expansion? Color me shocked!!

While Jack Eichel has almost certainly played his last game in Buffalo, I can’t see a scenario where he gets traded before the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft. In fact, he may not get traded until after the Entry Draft, as teams will have a better sense of their organizational assets at that time and can better tailor an offer which suits Buffalo’s needs as well as their own.

Sam Reinhart wants out of Buffalo as well, but there’s zero chance Buffalo leaves either player exposed, lest Seattle poach them for free. All other forwards will be a part of Buffalo’s future, and the defensive trio of Dahlin, Jokiharju, and Ristolainen should all stick around for the next few seasons (though Ristolainen has popped up in trade talks). If the Sabres select University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power with the first overall pick, Ristolainen would fetch a solid return in the trade market.

On Wednesday morning, news broke that Jeff Skinner has agreed to waive his no-movement clause (NMC) for purposes of expansion, allowing Buffalo to protect an extra forward. This likely means 23-year-old RFA Rasmus Asplund snags the last protected spot.

Skinner isn’t going anywhere either. After scoring just seven goals and seven assists in 53 games, there’s not a lot of upside or incentive for Seattle to take him. And those poor numbers come before looking at Skinner’s contract, which is objectively the worst in the league (six more seasons with a $9 million cap hit each season).

Notable Exposed Players: William Borgen, Cody Eakin, Collin Miller, Kyle Okposo, Zemgus Girgensons.

 

Detroit Red Wings Protection List

 

Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft

 

FORWARDS
DEFENSEMEN
GOALTENDERS
Tyler Bertuzzi Filip Hronek Thomas Greiss
Adam Erne Troy Stecher
Robby Fabbri Gustav Lindström
Dylan Larkin
Michael Rasmussen
Givani Smith
Jakub Vrána

 

 

Like the Sabres, the Red Wings aren’t leaving too much open for the Kraken to take, but there are still a few big decisions to make.

Troy Stetcher is one of the big question marks. Stecher was one of the most effective Detroit defensemen this season, and as a solid puck-moving play-driver on an affordable contract, he’s a lock to be selected if exposed. However, as a rebuilding team, Detroit will want to keep players like Stecher around while going through the growing pains, as he has shown himself to be a leader on and off the ice.

However, by protecting Stecher, Detroit must then expose either Gustav Lindström or Dennis Cholowski. In this scenario, Lindström gets protected solely because he’s a right-shot defensemen, and right-shots are a rarer (and thus, more valuable) asset.

Goaltender Jonathan Bernier would take Greiss’ spot on this list if he can work out an extension before the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft, but as discussed in the Boston section, this seems unlikely.

Notable Exposed Players: Bernier, Cholowski, Vladislav Namestnikov, Evgeny Svechnikov

 

Florida Panthers Protection List

 

Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft

 

FORWARDS
DEFENSEMEN
GOALTENDERS
Jonathan Huberdeau ** Keith Yandle ** Sergei Bobrovsky **
Aleksander Barkov Aaron Ekblad
Sam Bennett Mackenzie Weegar
Anthony Duclair
Patric Hörnqvist
Frank Vatrano
Carter Verhaeghe

 

** = player has an NMC and must be protected

 

Florida’s final forward spot came down to choosing between Anthony Duclair and Noel Acciari. Duclair has considerably higher offensive upside, scoring three times as many points as Acciari during the regular season (Duclair – 10 goals, 22 assists in 43 games, Acciari – four goals, seven assists in 41 games).

However, Acciari is a much better defensive forward, leading all Florida forwards in hits and blocked shots. Given the Panthers already have several forwards responsible for scoring, it would not surprise me at all if Acciari gets protected solely for his defensive upside.

Duclair is an RFA in 2021 while Acciari is signed for $1.66 million. It’s quite literally a toss-up, and I expect Seattle to take whichever forward Florida exposes. In this Mock Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft, Duclair gets the nod because of the need to lock up depth scoring to keep pace with Tampa Bay. Watching the Florida-Tampa Bay playoff series this year, Florida isn’t built to shut the Lightning offense down, so making sure they have enough scorers to keep up is the way to go.

Notable Exposed Players: Acciari, Chris Driedger, Radko Gudas, Anton Stralman, Markus Nutivaara.

EDITOR’S NOTE: On Thursday, July 15, the Panthers announced they would be buying out Keith Yandle’s contract. With a now-open protection spot, Dan expects Florida to protect Gustav Forsling in the final defense spot following Forsling’s contract extension, also announced Thursday. 

 

Montreal Canadiens Protection List

 

Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft

 

FORWARDS
DEFENSEMEN
GOALTENDERS
Brendan Gallagher ** Jeff Petry ** Carey Price **
Josh Anderson Joel Edmundson
Phillip Danault Shea Weber
Jake Evans
Jesperi Kotkaniemi
Artturi Lehkonen
Tyler Toffoli

 

** = player has an NMC and must be protected

 

After a surprising run to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final, the Montreal Canadiens are in a tough spot for the expansion draft. Several of their key role players will be exposed, putting them in a tough spot for next season. In fact, simply by returning to the Atlantic Division (after COVID-19 necessitated the use of the North Division for the Canadian teams), Montreal doesn’t look like a playoff team entering next season, shy of something happening to Boston, Florida, Tampa Bay, or Toronto.

Whichever player Montreal loses in expansion will put a hole in the lineup. The Canadiens also have a big choice to make with forward Jonathan Drouin. Drouin took an indefinite leave of absence before the end of the regular season. While it’s unfair to say Montreal took off without him, Drouin’s absence opened up more ice time for Jake Evans and Cole Caufield.

With two goals and 21 assists in 44 games, Drouin still has upside to his game, and at age 26 with two years remaining on his contract, he still has plenty to offer if Montreal wants him back. However, it seems both sides are ready for a split, and the Canadiens may leave Drouin exposed. In this version of the Seattle Kraken Mock Draft, they do.

Notable Exposed Players: Drouin, Ben Chiarot, Joel Armia (UFA), Tomas Tatar (UFA), Jake Allen, Brett Kulak, Paul Byron.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Wednesday Night, Pierre LeBrun broke news that Shea Weber is dealing with knee, ankle, and thumb injuries and may not play during the 2021-22 season. As such, Montreal may opt to expose him and protect someone else. If the Canadiens do not protect Weber for this reason, I wouldn’t anticipate Seattle selecting him. Also, Montreal would likely opt to protect Ben Chiarot in his place, though Brett Kulak could get protected due to his lower salary cap hit. 

 

Ottawa Senators Protection List

 

Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft

 

FORWARDS
DEFENSEMEN
GOALTENDERS
Drake Batherson Thomas Chabot Filip Gustavson
Connor Brown Victor Mete
Logan Brown Nikita Zaitsev
Nick Paul
Brady Tkachuk
Austin Watson
Colin White

 

Ottawa is a team with a ton of young talent in the system, and as such, there aren’t many high-quality players at risk of exposure. Three seasons ago, the idea of leaving Matt Murray exposed was nearly unconscionable. Even when he first signed his extension with Ottawa, it seemed unlikely. However, after a miserable season, the Senators may opt to protect Filip Gustavson instead.

Evgenii Dadonov also finds himself on the exposure list. While he hasn’t been a poor performer in Ottawa, he also hasn’t been the reliable scorer the Senators thought they’d be getting when they signed him. As the most expensive forward on roster, losing Dadonov to Seattle would clear up $5 million in cap room over each of the next two seasons.

For penny-pinching owner Eugene Melnyk, that dollar amount alone could be enough to expose Dadonov.

Notable Exposed Players: Dadonov, Murray, Josh Brown, Joey Daccord, Marcus Högberg.

 

Tampa Bay Lightning Protection List

 

Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft

 

FORWARDS
DEFENSEMEN
GOALTENDERS
Nikita Kucherov ** Victor Hedman ** Andrei Vasilevskiy **
Steven Stamkos ** Erik Cernak
Anthony Cirelli Ryan McDonagh
Brayden Point Mikhail Sergachev

 

** = player has an NMC and must be protected

 

The back-to-back Stanley Cup champs will quite possibly have the hardest time deciding what to do during the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft. Such is the price of being as elite of a franchise as the Lightning have been for the last several years.

During Tampa Bay’s Cup run this season, we saw just how crucial Ryan McDonagh was to the Lightning’s success. While Victor Hedman is still the star of the show, depth is key, and McDonagh was incredibly effective in shutting down opposing forwards. He also helped with linemate Erik Cernak’s development, as we saw Cernak finish second on the team in points by a defenseman during the playoffs.

For Tampa Bay to keep their window open as long as possible, protecting their defensive core is more important than protecting additional forwards. With Hedman taking up a guaranteed spot through his NMC, and Cernak and Sergachev being locks given their skill, age, and time left on contract (two years each), the only way to keep McDonagh in the gold as well is to protect eight skaters.

This leaves a ton of exposed forwards, especially those who can play in the Top Six. However, with talented forwards in the pipeline, such as Alex Barré-Boulet, Ross Colton, Jack Finley, and Sammy Walker (an unsigned seventh round pick who spent the last two seasons as captain at the University of Minnesota, scoring 13 goals and 16 assists in 31 games during the 2021 season).

Love them or hate them, the Lightning are poised to remain a contender for years to come.

Notable Exposed Players: Alex Killorn, Ondrej Palat, Cal Foote, David Savard, Yanni Gourde, Tyler Johnson, Blake Coleman, Barclay Goodrow.

 

Toronto Maple Leafs Protection List

 

Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft

 

FORWARDS
DEFENSEMEN
GOALTENDERS
John Tavares ** T.J. Brodie Jack Campbell
Mitch Marner Justin Holl
Auston Matthews Jake Muzzin
William Nylander Morgan Rielly

 

** = player has an NMC and must be protected

 

Toronto’s 8-1 protection route may come as a surprise, but looking at the Maple Leafs’ roster makeup, everything hinges around Justin Holl. T.J. Brodie, Jake Muzzin, and Morgan Rielly are mainstays on the blueline and are locks for protection. John Tavares must be protected, and there’s no chance Toronto would expose Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews, or William Nylander, as any of those three would be guaranteed Kraken if exposed.

So why Holl instead of three more forwards? There’s a few reasons. First, the forwards who would be exposed, particularly Alex Kerfoot, would free up more salary cap room. With just $9 million in cap room to sign four forwards, two defensemen, and a goaltender, Toronto needs every dollar they can get.

Next, Holl is a right-shot defenseman. As I’ve touched on throughout the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft pieces so far, right-shot d-men are a premium asset. Keeping them on roster is always a good idea.

Finally, bringing points one and two together, Holl is under contract for two more years at $2 million each year. There aren’t many second-pairing defensemen Toronto could get at that price who could also match Holl’s production (second among Maple Leafs defensemen in hits and blocked shots, third in points, takeaways/60, and first in shorthanded time on ice).

The 8-1 route makes the most sense, and that’s what I expect Toronto to do.

Notable Exposed Players: Kerfoot, Zach Hyman, Frederik Andersen (UFA), Wayne Simmonds, Nick Foligno (UFA), Travis Dermott, Zach Bogosian (UFA).

 

 

Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft – Projecting the Pacific Division Protection Lists: Click Here.

Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft – Projecting the Central Division Protection Lists: Click Here.

Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft – Projecting the Metropolitan Division Protection Lists: Click Here.

Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft – Projecting the Seattle Kraken Roster: Click Here.

 

+ posts

Dan Bradley is a hockey broadcaster and sportswriter originally from New Brighton, MN and currently living in Cincinnati. Dan graduated from Bradley University in Peoria, IL, with a B.S. in Sports Communication in 2014. He previously worked in television in Duluth, MN, as well as in youth and adult sports administration in St. Paul. When not watching or writing about sports, Dan enjoys making music, fishing, and watching Jeopardy, where he hopes to someday be a contestant.