Everything You Should Expect for Carolina from the Expansion Draft

December 8, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward (30) defends the goal against the Los Angeles Kings during the second period at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
December 8, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Carolina Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward (30) defends the goal against the Los Angeles Kings during the second period at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports /

The Carolina Hurricanes have unveiled their Expansion Draft protection list, but with some time till the draft, what’s in store?

After all the analysis and opinions, the moment has finally come. The Carolina Hurricanes have released their list of protected players in the upcoming Expansion Draft for the Vegas Golden Knights. As it turns out, the biggest news was that the list was exactly as predicted.

Now that the lists are out and Vegas can really make decisions, the league looks in for a crazy few days. But what does all this mean? What is going to happen? This is your guide to the next few days in the NHL with a few predictions sprinkled in.

Vegas Holds the Cards

Yes, its a terrible gambling pun, but its all true. The Golden Knights’ GM George McPhee is the most important person in hockey right now. He will have the ability to leverage the Expansion Draft to receive a fool’s ransom of picks in the upcoming NHL Draft. It has already been reported the Knights will receive a 1st rounder from Columbus in return for taking David Clarkson.

Not only that, Vegas looks set to have a surprisingly decent team post Expansion Draft. Many quality veterans have been exposed, including guys like Bobby Ryan, Sami Vatanen, and Marc-Andre Fleury. Offense will likely be in short supply in Sin City, but the Expansion Draft will give Vegas a deep defense and very solid goaltending.

Since so many talented veterans are exposed, teams have/will send Vegas loads of assets to keep those players. The Golden Knights legitimately could have 3 or 4 1st round picks in the entry draft by the night of the Expansion Draft.

Free Agent Wrinkle

Now that the lists have been revealed, Vegas has the opportunity to conduct talks with free agents, restricted and unrestricted. Any player signed in this manor will count as the Expansion Draft pick from that team.

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For example, Alexander Radulov is a pending UFA. If Vegas signs him to a deal in the next couple days, he becomes Vegas’ selection from the Montreal Canadiens (Radulov’s former team).

Carolina Is ‘Golden’

While maybe not as Golden as the Knights of Vegas, the Hurricanes are in fantastic position. The work done by GM Ron Francis and his staff have allowed the Canes to enter this Expansion Draft period without any concerns.

Of the exposed players, the most likely selection by Vegas would be Lee Stempniak. The 34 year old forward is no stranger to a new team, his contract is affordable, and has proven he can still but up decent numbers. He’d likely have a greater role with Vegas than he did with Carolina as well.

Will it be a bummer to lose Stempniak? Sure, but its not a big deal. Stempniak’s production, style, and experience are easily replaceable. We have already covered possible replacements for the Canes in a previous piece.

Related Story: Potential Free Agents That Can Provide Secondary Scoring

If Carolina really wants to keep Stempniak, they could send some picks the other way in exchange for the selection of someone else. Francis may favor giving up some picks to allow a Jay McClement, Joakim Nordstrom, Cam Ward, or Eddie Lack to leave instead.

Compared to other teams around the league, Carolina is living easy. Some other teams are in chaos mode. Anaheim, Minnesota, and Ottawa are just a few taking a tough loss in this Expansion Draft. Stempniak’s are common in the NHL, but a Sami Vatanen is not.


Expect the Carolina Hurricanes to lose Lee Stempniak to the Vegas Golden Knights when its all over. He is the best available Canes player. Vegas may consider a goalie, but there are better ones from other teams. Knowing Stempniak though, he will probably be dealt at the 2018 trade deadline for picks to a contender looking for depth scoring.

Next: Predictions for the Hurricanes at the 2017 Draft

The Expansion Draft itself starts at 8pm on June 21st on NBCSN. At the same event, the Canes new jerseys will be unveiled as well. For more Canes coverage, keep it locked at Cardiaccane.com.