By: Ray Guarino | Follow me on Twitter @rayguarino
As the shortened 2020-2021 season chugs along, NHL General Managers are preparing for the April 12 trade deadline with an eye on the upcoming expansion draft for the NHL’s newest team, the Seattle Kraken.
In the 2017 Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft, of the 30 NHL teams, eight decided to go the route of protecting eight skaters and one goalie. The remaining 23 teams went with seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie. The Bruins went with the latter and lost defenseman Colin Miller, who had been acquired from the Los Angeles Kings in the Milan Lucic trade.
On July 21, 2021, the Seattle Kraken will hold their expansion draft two days before the NHL entry draft and seven days before free agency begins. Seattle paid $650 million in expansion fees to the NHL, to be divided equally amongst the 30 NHL team (Vegas is not qualified to receive a share).
Assuming the Bruins go the standard 7-3-1 route, I can see the Bruins protecting the following players:
That would leave the following players exposed that Seattle could find enticing:
Looking back at the Vegas Golden Knights 2017 expansion draft, General Manager George McPhee made ten trades leading up to the draft. They can be broken up into two categories:
1: Teams incentivizing Vegas to take on a bad contract.
2: Teams offering assets to Vegas to keep them from picking a player that the team does not want to lose.
If the Bruins are looking to unload a contract, only John Moore’s contract would be considered “bad.” Interestingly enough, Moore was protected by the New Jersey Devils in the 2017 expansion draft. Moore has two years remaining at $2.75M/year. What would a John Moore trade to Seattle look like? Let’s look at a couple of expansion draft salary dumps from the 2017 expansion draft:
The New York Islanders decided to go a bit unconventional in their protected list. They protected five defensemen and only three forwards, leaving Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson, and Cal Clutterbuck unprotected. The Islanders paid a heavy price to get the Golden Knights to take Mikhail Grabovski, who had one more year left on his four-year $20M contract. He was out with concussion issues and was unlikely to ever play again. The cost of taking on that contract was substantial, a 2017 first-round pick (15th overall), 2019 second-round pick, AHL defenseman Jack Bischoff, and goalie selection of Jean-Francois Berube.
The Columbus Blue Jackets were strapped with David Clarkson’s disaster of a contract. There were still three years left at $5.275M/year for a player that was effectively retired due to multiple concussions. The cost was steep to get the Golden Knights to take that contract on. A 2017 first-round pick (24th overall), 2019 second-round pick, and former second-round pick William Karlsson, who was their official selection. The then 24-year-old went on to score 43 goals in his first season in Vegas.
Now, John Moore’s contract isn’t nearly as bad as Clarkson’s, but it is closer to Grabovski’s in totality. What the Bruins would be asking Seattle to do is not only take on Moore’s contract but also pass on someone like Lauzon, who has shown that, so far, he can handle top-four minutes on defense. It would likely cost the Bruins a high draft pick and an excellent prospect that isn’t eligible for the expansion draft.
If the Bruins have an unprotected player that they really don’t want to lose, they can go the route that the Minnesota Wild went with Vegas. The WIld didn’t want Vegas to select either Matt Dumba or Marco Scandella, so they sent a third-round pick to the Wild in exchange for high-end prospect Alex Tuch. Vegas also selected Erik Houla as their pick. The Bruins equivalent to Tuch would likely be Jack Studnicka, plus Vegas would still get a player to select.
In the end, the best course of action the Bruins can take is to accept that they’ll lose a good player that they don’t want to lose, let Jeremy Jacobs collect his $21 million expansion fee, and prepare for the 2021-2022 season.