A look at some teams that could be affected by a possible NHL expansion draft and more in today’s NHL rumor mill.
Highlights from Friedman’s latest “30 Thoughts.”
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman touched on the recent proposed rules regarding a possible NHL expansion draft. Of note, teams can only protect one goaltender. “The choice is three defencemen and seven forwards OR eight skaters of any makeup.” One expansion team means each current NHL club will only lose one player, while two expansion teams means they’ll lose no more than two.
While there’s no official word from the league yet regarding players carrying no-movement clauses, Friedman claims there’s speculation the league doesn’t want to get into a fight with the NHLPA about it. He also wonders if players with no-trade clauses will also be exempt from expansion selection, pointing out any team can claim them off waivers. Friedman also wonders if players with no-movement clauses would also count among the players a team wants to protect.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I weighed in on most of this in today’s “News” section. I’m betting players with no-movement clauses will be exempt. However, it’ll be interesting to see if the league extends the same coverage to players with no-trade clauses. If they don’t, it could certainly make things more interesting. Some established NHL clubs could avail themselves of those players through waivers if unclaimed by an expansion team.
Friedman suggests we keep an eye on the number of two-year contracts signed between now and the expansion draft. Players with one-year deals will be of little interest to expansion clubs.
If the Los Angeles Kings fail to re-sign left wing Milan Lucic, it’s assume the Vancouver Canucks will pursue him via free agency this summer. The Edmonton Oilers could also go after him, as Lucic played for Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli with the Boston Bruins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chiarelli could be interested in Lucic, but his priority is bolstering his defense. Forking out over $7 million annually on a long-term deal for Lucic hampers that process.
Speaking of Chiarelli, he was apparently unwilling to go below his asking price for struggling right wing Nail Yakupov at the trade deadline. Despite rumors linking Yakupov to the Montreal Canadiens, they didn’t appear too interested.
Friedman will be interested to see how much influence the Toronto Maple Leafs analytics department has in the club’s contract negotiations with defenseman Martin Marincin, who’s a restricted free agent. “Marincin is not a points producer. He’s not overly physical. He defends well,’ writes Friedman. “I’m very curious to see how much Babcock/Lamoriello value him at contract time and as the organization grows in talent.”
USA TODAY: Kevin Allen also weighed in on the potential expansion draft rules, especially how it could cost some teams good young players. “As an example, the Pittsburgh Penguins would be at risk of losing prize young goalie Matt Murray unless they leave veteran Marc-Andre Fleury unprotected. The Nashville Predators might have to expose defenseman Ryan Ellis or Mattias Ekholm. Depending upon what happens with Steven Stamkos’ contract, the Tampa Bay Lightning’s No. 8 forward could be Valtteri Filppula, Ryan Callahan or Vladislav Namestnikov” Allen also suggests teams could trade players they’re in jeopardy of losing to an expansion draft in order to get a return they can keep.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Excellent examples raised by Allen. By the look of things, a future expansion draft won’t be filled with just has-beens and never-weres. Established teams stocked with talent certainly risk losing a good player. Allen also brings up a valid point about those clubs trying to trade those players, rather than risk losing them for nothing to the expansion draft.