In this exercise, I analyse each team’s choices in players to protect in the best interest of their present and future and then step in the shoes of Seattle’s management team to choose the best available player, barring any trades beforehand.
This is barring any trades beforehand for teams attempting to move players they can’t protect and don’t want to lose for nothing. We will look at the Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, and Calgary Flames ahead of the expansion draft.
First, let’s take a look at our first team in Anaheim for the expansion draft. Jakub Silferberg has some term left at maybe a little overpayment but he puts up points and can play top line minutes.
The other players I would consider selecting from Anaheim are Adam Henrique, Josh Manson if they wanted to go the defensive route, and possibly Brendan Guhle if they wanted to take a chance on a young guy.
Though I feel they are trying to move Manson before the draft since he’s a pretty good defender and they wouldn’t want to lose him for nothing with term left. Silferberg is a good and proven forward, and those are harder to come by in expansion drafts.
Kevin Shattenkirk has shown a resurgence in his career and Seattle may have their eyes on his offensive talent if they feel they won’t have enough.
There are very slim pickings for Arizona, which is good for them since they’ve already been stripped of draft picks this season. Though that means that they won’t have much in the way of offering Seattle anything to take a certain player off their hands.
Adin Hill has potential and played well this season in the absence of Darcy Kuemper and Antti Raanta. Pitlick wouldn’t crack the line-up if drafted so the choice here may have to be Hill as depth goaltending.
Ilya Lyubushkin is an interesting player though, because he has potential but unless Seattle is going to trade some of their higher drafted defence after taking them from teams, Lyubushkin probably won’t make the starting day roster.
Craig Smith would be a player Seattle should be excited about drafting, a player like Silferberg, but for less cap space. He played well high up in the line-up in Boston this season and can do the same if drafted.
The only other player I’d consider is Ondrej Kase, and that’s because he is younger and has potential if he could stay healthy.
There’s still the question of whether Boston will bring back Taylor Hall and then would have to protect him, and whether they will trade Jake DeBrusk before the expansion draft and free up a spot for Smith after how he performed for them last season.
I envision they want to keep a player like Nick Ritchie since he has been a force since joining the Bruins and can play up and down the line-up.
All the options here are probably going to be guys who are mostly in and out of the line-up, but since Anders Bjork is the youngest, there is still some potential there to surprise.
Colin Miller was selected in Vegas’ expansion draft and could very well be selected again for depth defence, but would not get in the starting line-up. This could go either way but I’ll go with the young guy in Bjork because his contract is over $2M cheaper and he will still be an RFA at the end of it.
This could be all messed up if all the rumours are true about Buffalo trading Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, and Rasmus Ristolainen before the expansion draft. So you would be able to take those two off the protected list and maybe add any pieces coming back, but there will be a roster shuffle at the top.
I see the Flames drafting Mark Giordano because he can still play at a pretty high level and I would’ve considered him the best defence on the team this season.
He has one year left on his deal and gives the inevitably young team some veteran leadership that was proven successful in Vegas.
They could go the route of Dominic Simon, but he’d be another depth guy instead of Giordano who will be on the team for his last remaining year on his contract. The Giordano pick would remind me of the Derek Engelland selection by Vegas in which he is a leader and a great veteran presence, except Giordano’s talent is much higher still.
Milan Lucic doesn’t have an ideal contract so unless there’s a trade, he’s staying with Calgary, despite what he brings to the room and being the type of guy who a team would want in their line-up, but for a lot cheaper.
Next we will look at the Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Columbus Blue Jackets, and Dallas Stars for the Seattle expansion draft.