Photo Courtesy of NESN

By Andrew Thompson                                                                       Twitter: @Godwentwhoops

The Boston Bruins released their list of protected players for the upcoming Expansion Draft. The Bruins have two options in protecting their players from the new Las Vegas team joining the league this year.  The Black and Gold chose to employ the 7-3-1 option, meaning seven forwards, three defencemen, and Tuukka Rask were taken off the board for Vegas.

The Bruins chose to protect (or had no choice due to contact clauses) the seven players among the forwards:

David Backes
Patrice Bergeron
David Krejci
Brad Marchand
Riley Nash
David Pastrnak
Ryan Spooner

Riley Nash was a bit of a surprise.

The 28-year old forward did his job as a bottom-six player for Boston. His 17 point (seven goal) season wasn’t thrilling overall, but the former Cornell product ate up minutes and helped make the B’s fourth line the best it has been since the time of the Merlot Line.

For some reason, some people scratched their heads at Ryan Spooner.

In all honesty, keeping Spooner was a no-brainer for Boston. Not so much for what he brings to the team, but what moving him could bring to TD Garden.

Unless something drastically changes in the offseason, Spooner is leaving Boston. While he still has a decent amount of value (and a certain level of untapped potential), he’s just not cutting it in the Black and Gold. Claude Julien didn’t like his defensive game at the start of the season. Bruce Cassidy didn’t like his offensive game at the end of it.

Still, Spooner can be used as part of a package deal to get either a depending top-six left-winger or a left-shooting blueliner.

The Bruins could only protect three defencemen, and they (for better or worse) made the best of an unpleasant situation. Here are the protected blueliners for Boston.

Zdeno Chara
Torey Krug
Kevan Miller

During the offseason, it became clear that the Bruins were only going to protect one of the Millers when it came time for the expansion draft. The B’s decided to protect the 29-year old Kevan Miller rather than the 24-year old Colin Miller.

Personally, I thought keeping Kevan Miller was a mistake. It almost seemed an act of hubris on the part of the Bruins front office. The Bruins believe they can be a Stanley Cup team next year. That’s either fantastically optimistic or someone’s been putting too much bourbon in that dirty water at the TD Garden.

There is also the ugly fact that Kevan Miller is at the edge of his skill set and Colin Miller is still improving. Kevan Miller is a bottom-pair blueliner, while Colin Miller could be more for Boston. (‘Could’ being the operative word.) That’s part of the reason why the B’s went with the pugilistic Miller over the potential Miller. (The B’s were willing to go with what they know they had over what they might have.)

The other part of the Kevan of Colin choice is the B’s depth chart. Charlie McAvoy will be a full-time Bruin next year.  Rob O’Gara and Matt Grzelcyk are playing with Providence, and both have a shot of making the roster in October.  Jeremy Lauzon and Jakub Zboril could be ready in the next 18 months. With so much talent in the barn, the B’s front office might have thought that Colin Miller would be superfluous.

We’ll see how this plays out at the Expansion Draft. A few months ago, I argued that whichever Miller wasn’t protected would be grabbed by Las Vegas. That still seems to be the plan. The Golden Knights may choose defenceman Adam McQuaid, but his extensive collection of injuries might make Vegas wary.

So, congratulations to Kevan Miller the winner of the Expansion Draft Sweepstakes.