The 2021 NHL Expansion Draft for the new Seattle franchise is still pretty far away, but I think it is time to see how the Carolina Hurricanes could be impacted by it.
Seattle has been awarded an NHL franchise. Old news, right? What we haven’t considered yet, for the most part, is just how the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft could affect the Carolina Hurricanes.
A few of you (you know who you are) have posed the question in general on Twitter, so I’m taking it upon myself to do the research, and to see which scenarios could take place, and which players could ultimately be the one selected by Seattle when the time comes.
First, I’m going to lay the groundwork. The 2021 NHL Expansion Draft is going to follow the same rules as the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft (taken from NHL.com):
- Seattle will select one player from each team excluding the Vegas Golden Knights for a total of 30 (14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies) not including additional players who may be acquired as the result of violations of the Expansion Draft rules.
- Current NHL teams can protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goalie, under the following conditions:
- All players with no movement clauses at the time of the draft, and who decline to waive those clauses, must be protected and will be counted toward their team’s applicable protection limits.
- All first- and second-year NHL players, and all unsigned draft choices, will be exempt from selection, and will not be counted toward protection limits.
In addition to the above rules, all NHL teams must meet the following requirements regarding players exposed for selection in the expansion draft:
- One defenseman who is a) under contract in 2021-22 and b) played in at least 40 NHL games the prior season or played in at least 70 NHL games in the prior two seasons.
- Two forwards who are a) under contract in 2021-22 and b) played at least 40 NHL games the prior season or played in at least 70 NHL games in the prior two seasons.
- One goalie who is under contract in 2021-22 or will be a restricted free agent at the end of his current contract immediately prior to 2021-22. If a team elects to make a restricted free agent goalie available to meet this requirement, that goalie must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the team’s protected list.
- Players with potential career-ending injuries who have missed more than the previous 60 consecutive games (or who otherwise have been confirmed to have a career-threatening injury) may not be used to satisfy a team’s player exposure requirements unless approval is received from the NHL. Such players also may be deemed exempt from selection.
Now that all that is out of the way, I am going to assume that the Carolina Hurricanes’ roster remains unchanged; meaning, any players who can re-sign here will, and will be subject to the rules above. I am also going to assume that each player continues on a similar trajectory in regards to stats and performance between now and then. Let’s get into it.
First and foremost, Jordan Staal is the only player on the Carolina Hurricanes’ roster that has a No-Movement Clause. This means he is required to be protected, unless he waives his NMC.
Assuming that Staal does not waive his clause, the Carolina Hurricanes have 6 forward spots, 3 defenseman spots, and 1 goalie spot remaining. Let’s take this one position at a time, shall we?
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Before we get into the forwards, there is something that needs to be said: Andrei Svechnikov will be eligible for the expansion draft based on the rules above. Martin Necas, as of right now, will not.
The 6 remaining forward spots should be as follows, in no particular order: Sebastian Aho, Teuvo Teravainen, Andrei Svechnikov, Erik Haula, Ryan Dzingel, and one of either Jordan Martinook, Brock McGinn, Lucas Wallmark, or Warren Foegele.
Let’s say the Canes decide to keep their alternate captain, Martinook, out of these four choices. This would leave Foegele, McGinn, and Wallmark exposed.
Moving on to the 3 defenseman spots, these should be no-brainers. Dougie Hamilton and Jaccob Slavin, and Brett Pesce, but this leaves Haydn Fleury, Trevor van Riemsdyk, as well as any other defensemen that could be called up this season or next (Chase Priskie, Jake Bean, etc.). For brevity’s sake, we’ll just include Fleury and van Riemsdyk in the pool of ‘available’ players in this article.
Moving on to the lone goaltender spot. This one is a bit tricky. Assuming Petr Mrazek re-signs after his contract is up, the Carolina Hurricanes will have to choose between him, Alex Nedeljkovic, James Reimer, and Anton Forsberg according to the rules above. If you ask me, Nedeljkovic should take that spot, hands down.
Very tough decisions all the way down the line for the Carolina Hurricanes, but if the Canes’ roster remains the same, and all players re-sign, the pool of available players will look something like this: Warren Foegele, Brock McGinn, Lucas Wallmark, Haydn Fleury, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Petr Mrazek, James Reimer, Anton Forsberg, and any other AHL players that get called up to the NHL for an extended length of time between now and then.
If I’m Ron Francis, the choice of who to pick from the Carolina Hurricanes is glaringly obvious: Haydn Fleury. Hope is not lost, however.
There is always the possibility that something changes between now and then. The 2021 expansion draft is basically another year and a half away. A lot of things can happen in 18-20 months, especially in today’s league.
Another scenario is that Don Waddell makes a deal or three with Ron Francis to keep him from selecting our more valuable exposed players, much like GMs around the league were able to do with Vegas’ George McPhee in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft.
This article wasn’t meant to scare anyone, or to make any solid speculation about any given player being ‘given up’ in 2021; it was only meant to answer a question I’ve seen around Twitter here and there, and to incite discussion about the next big shakeup the NHL will undergo.
I’ve got every ounce of faith in Don Waddell’s negotiation tactics, and I’m sure all of the Carolina Hurricanes’ core group will still be intact after the expansion draft. We’ll just have to wait and see to be sure. We’ve got quite a bit of time left, after all.