NHL Rumor Mill – April 30, 2021

by | Apr 30, 2021 | Rumors | 39 comments

Another look at how this summer expansion draft could affect several teams in the NHL rumor mill.

SPORTSNET: Rory Boylen recently looked at several teams that could be faced with a tough loss or an interesting decision to make in this summer’s expansion draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun and Ryan S. Clark previously did a feature examining six clubs that could make side deals with the Seattle Kraken to protect key players. Boylen is examining nine teams.

The Colorado Avalanche needs Erik Johnson to waive his no-movement clause. If he does, they’ll have to decide if they’ll protect eight skaters or seven forwards and three defensemen. Under the former, they could lose a forward like Andre Burakovsky, Joonas Donskoi, Tyson Jost or Valeri Nichushkin. Under the latter, Ryan Graves could be left unprotected. If Johnson doesn’t waive his clause, they’ll have to go the eight skaters option, leaving the Seattle Kraken the choice of Graves or one of those forwards.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Ryan S.Clark reported Johnson is expected to waive his NMC. The Kraken will likely pass on him given his age (33), injury history and his $6 million annual average value through 2022-23. He also reported the Avs are willing to trade one of their forwards for something decent in return and are open to discussing their needs with the Kraken

The status of sidelined defenseman Oscar Klefbom and how general manager Ken Holland handles pending unrestricted free agents like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Adam Larsson and Tyson Barrie could affect the Edmonton Oilers’ plans. If Klefbom is healthy and Larsson or Barrie is re-signed before the draft, the Oilers could lose a defenseman like Ethan Bear. Caleb Jones could be protected only if the UFA blueliners aren’t re-signed and Klefbom is exposed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Klefbom’s status remains uncertain. Holland could wait until after the expansion draft to re-sign Larsson and/or Barrie. That depends, of course, on whether the Kraken have interest in either blueliner during their exclusive free-agent interview window from July 18-21.

Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba (NHL Images)

Five members of the Minnesota Wild (Zach Parise, Mats Zuccarello, Jared Spurgeon, Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin) have no-movement clauses. If none of them waive their clauses, the Wild could be forced to make a side deal with the Kraken or risk losing defenseman Matt Dumba if they protect just three defensemen or risk losing a forward by protecting eight skaters. If they’re faced with leaving Dumba unprotected they could attempt to trade him before the protected lists are due.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Clark reported Wild management could have discussions with those five players about waiving their NMCs. Having Parise, Suter and Zuccarello waive would be the best scenario. They’re aging players carrying hefty salary-cap hits for at least three more seasons who likely won’t be enticing to the Kraken.

If Dumba becomes the odd man out, I expect they’ll try to trade him rather than lose him for nothing in the expansion draft. Boylen also suggested they could make a side deal with the Kraken by sending them a player to ensure they take someone other than Dumba in the draft.

The Kraken could make a push for Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton if he’s left unsigned and unprotected. If he’s re-signed, he’ll have to be protected and that would leave blueliner Jake Bean available. The Kraken could also have a shot at goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic if pending UFA Petr Mrazek is re-signed before the draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: LeBrun speculated the Hurricanes could hold off on signing Hamilton in order to protect Bean, leaving Brady Skjei exposed. They could do the same with Mrazek to protect Nedeljkovic. There’s a chance Hamilton or Mrazek could sign with the Kraken but their priority could be staying in Carolina.

St. Louis Blues defenseman Vince Dunn could be left exposed if they protect Torey Krug, Colton Parayko and Justin Faulk. If they go the eight-skaters route, they risk losing a forward like Jaden Schwartz, David Perron or Robert Thomas. Dunn was a fixture in the rumor mill this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dunn could be traded to another club or the Blues could try to work out a side deal sending the Kraken another player to ensure Dunn isn’t selected in the expansion draft.

The Nashville Predators are expected to protect eight skaters to ensure defensemen Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Mattias Ekholm and Dante Fabbro aren’t available. Forwards Luke Kunin or Mikael Granlund (if signed before the draft) could be protected. Boylen wonders if Ryan Johansen and Matt Duchene could be exposed, though the Kraken probably won’t take one of those high-priced forwards without a sufficient sweetener.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll take quite an offer to convince Kraken GM Ron Francis to take on Johansen or Duchene. Both are underachieving forwards carrying $8 million cap hits for several more years.

Travis Dermott is expected to be the odd man out for the Toronto Maple Leafs. However, contract negotiations with pending UFA winger Zach Hyman could affect which players they end up protecting. If Hyman is re-signed, they’ll have to protect seven forwards, leaving an extra defenseman exposed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Under that scenario they’ll protect Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin and T.J. Brodie, leaving Justin Holl exposed. They could take the chance on Hyman re-signing after the expansion draft to protect four blueliners and leave Dermott exposed. If they sign Hyman, they could try to work out a deal with the Kraken to ensure Holl isn’t taken.

Boylen expects Calgary Flames winger Milan Lucic will waive his no-movement clause to allow the club to protect a younger forward like Dillon Dube or Glenn Gawdin. He also wondered if the Kraken would take defenseman Mark Giordano if left exposed. The 38-year-old Flames captain has a year remaining on his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boylen observed that big changes could be coming to the Flames roster following this season. Those, however, could occur following the expansion draft. As for Giordano, the Kraken could prefer players who fit into their long-term plans.

The Dallas Stars could go the eight-skater option to protect four defensemen if Jamie Oleksiak is re-signed. That could leave a forward such as Radek Faksa, Denis Gurianov or Joe Pavelski exposed. Boylen feels it could be easier for the Stars if Oleksiak isn’t protected or a side deal is worked out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wait until after the draft to re-sign Oleksiak and take the chance that the Kraken will pass on him or else talk trade to ensure he’s not taken in the draft if they opt to protect seven forwards and three blueliners.


  1. I’d have thought a suggestion for Price to waive his NMC so the Habs could protect Allen would have made this list.

    • I totally agree

    • Think that will happen? I’m legitimately curious. It makes 100% sense to me that Price would be asked and would say ok to it, and also that the Habs would not protect Weber.

      However, as a Habs fan, it feels like they have a major issue with veterans running the show (how is Weber *still* first pairing, after 40 consecutive sub-par games?)

      My guess is that they protect both Price & Weber, and regret it. Thoughts?

      • Of the two, I would rather lose Price. Weber will continue to slow down and is 5 years older but he is not injury prone and doesn’t have the performance dips when healthy that Price has. Plus it will be easier to shelter Weber as a 5-6 D.

      • But his cap hit is unjustifiable if he’s a bottom pairing D. It’s too much money for that role a role filled buy a guy making around $1M

        His lack of ability to play up in the line up makes his a bit of an anchor to the team since his play and pay will keep needed players from playing which for a team in the stages that they are in, ie not good, really hampers what they can do and eventually hold the money back… see Leafs anytime 2004-2016.

  2. Vegas is sitting their licking their chops.

    With the rumor amount of dman that maybe available. They might be able to pick up some quality for prospects or picks. If a team can’t work out a side deal with Seattle and don’t want to lose the player for nothing.

  3. can any Flames fans chime in on Gawdin ? I have seen his name mentioned a couple of times. Have never seen him play and his numbers are average as an AHLer , although he did have a big year his last year in the Swift Current as an over age player.
    24 years old and 3 years in the minors to me means you are close if not past the ‘prospect’ projection.

    • He’s ok I would project him as being a bottom 6 player, has good hockey IQ so maybe a develops into a decent shutdown 3C but nothing I would lose any sleep over if Seattle took him. Dube gets protected without a doubt in my mind. I expect Lucic to waive, he wont be happy if Seattle take him because he’s really enjoying playing for Sutter again. I’m afraid Gio is going to be exposed & he’s probably exactly what Seattle will want to anchor that blueline. He may not be a top pairing Dman but he would fit on a lot of teams 2nd pairing & would be a good influence in that Kracken dressing room. My bets he’s the one that gets plucked.

      • Kevin, I figure Tkachuk, Gaudreau, Monahan Backlund, Lindholm, Magiapane, Dube + Hanafin , Andersson and Tanev. Aside from Lootch, if he agrees to forego NMC, which forward is unprotected to slot in Gawdwin?
        I have watched a few Flames games the past month and agree Dube is a keeper also impressed with Magiapane. To you point about Lucic , he is playing much better than I had seen him play the past 3 years. He is in on the forecheck and has a more intense look now.
        Difficult decision to free up Gio since has has done so much for the organization but the right move.

  4. Articles like this are kind of silly to me. Mentions players that are UFA’s (at least IMO) is irrelevant because if I was a team I would be taking the chance on getting an agreed upon contract and waiting to sign anything until the expansion draft is over.

    Why would anyone sign someone prior to and then be forced to protect them? Hall as an example with the bruins.

    • I agree but there could be some exceptions for teams that dont have major issues protecting players

    • Or they are worried about the guy testing the market or having Seattle get to talk to them before they can sign with their current or any other one.

      It ain’t a deal until it is signed.

      Some are safe, but not sure all of them are.

    • Agree, that why I didn’t understand Winnipeg resigning Lowry now.

      He said Winnipeg was the only place he wanted to be, now the Jets have to protect him and leave someone else unprotected.

      • good point Caper , that move could cost them Appleton. Who gets protected on D ? thinking they want to protect Logan Stanley , DeMelo could be odd man out.

      • Fergy22 i agree with you
        I think they will protect Stanely and maybe Sami Niku gets plucked by Seattle. But I think it will be Appleton.

      • The only risk in a case like Lowry is that if he gets hurt he does not have his name the line so no money if the team pulls the pin.

        When you look at Krejci and others there is no way they are signing prior to the end of the year

  5. With the flat cap remaining intact for the foreseeable future Seattle is in an even better position than was Vegas. Because of that, and with still so many teams up against the limit and with more RFAs to re-up – and maybe a UFA they wish to retain – there will be all sorts of prior deals made with Seattle where by they will attain, not only picks/prospects, but solid players with term simply because the trading team must move one or more off their roster.

    • Agreed 100% George!

    • My guess is Ron Francis is going to be asking if he can spend go the cap because of this opportunity.

      Then again, this season might be a bit of a curse for the Kraken. COVID has really thrown a wrench into scouting, I feel this draft, more than others will be a bit more of a gamble. I look at the Senators deadline for example, we actually opted for 2022 picks. I wonder if Seattle might take a similar approach and try and get a mixture of picks this year and next year. Perhaps, they even instead focus on players with term, as suggested.

  6. I still think Seattle doesn’t need any side deals and they will have more of an advantage after the draft than before.

    Cash strapped and Cap strapped teams will be in worse shape if Seattle selects affordable contracts and has a war chest to pick up UFAs in a down market and they can offer sheet players that teams can’t afford or hope to sign for less.

    • habfan30, I think it will come down to “offers they can’t refuse” – especially from eastern based teams. There are several in the east who will simply have to move decent to good players off their rosters and if they’re going to have to do it anyway, where better than a team on or near the west coast? That way they don’t have to worry too much about the traded players coming back to haunt them more frequently.

      Seattle will be able to build quite a package of 50 max and maintain it through the addition of multiple picks over the next few years. If they can do that AND obtain decent to good players with experience and term, why not?

      • George,

        “There are several in the east who will simply have to move decent to good players off their rosters and if they’re going to have to do it anyway, where better than a team on or near the west coast”

        Sounds good but there’s only one West Coast team on good cap shape, LA and they have a bunch of bad contracts all ready and want to go young.

        There’s nowhere to move these players as nobody can afford them for the most part and that’s why I don’t think the side deals are needed. Seattle will have the pick of the litter and both the cash and cap to do it.

        They don’t need to eat any bad contracts considering the hundreds of UFA and RFA players that will be looking for contracts.

        If you think UFAs took shaves last year wait till this year.

        Take the Habs for example, Danault and Tatar are UFA this year. They aren’t getting 5 million + from anybody and the Kraken will be able to get them cheap.

        The only thing in the way is if players across the board decide to give home town discounts for family stability.

      • I never mentioned bad contracts – and I agree, they don’t need to go down that road

      • Please enlighten me on all these bad contracts LA has.

        All I read from all the so called experts on here was how untradable and garbage Carter was. Hmmmm.

  7. Seattle is going to have a WAY better opening night roster than even Vegas could have wished for!

    Bold prediction….

    One of these 2 teams will win a Cup in the next 3years!

    • Agree on Vegas Artsy19, but not the bold part.
      If they aren’t the favorite for this year, they are top 3 right now.
      Seattle, who knows until they are done, but promising.

    • This will also depend on Francis and his scouting department. Vegas was very overlooked after the draft, but the did an excellent job identifying players around the league that looked like they could improve given more ice time. Also, Florida was really, really nice to them haha and who would have thought Fluery would excel to the level he did?

  8. For the Oilers I would leave Klefbom unprotected. The Oilers are under no obligation to give any info on Klefbom’s health, and the Kraken are not allowed to talk to Klefbom before the draft. Signe Nuge and Larsson and let Barrie walk. Bouchard will be able to move into his spot next season with zero issues. If the Kraken do take Klefbom than that will just an open up a spot for either Samorukov and/or Broberg.
    I like Klefbom a lot, but he has been injury prone his whole career and will most likely not get any healthier.
    protected players:
    Forwards – McDavid, Draisaitl, Nuge (If he resigns), Puljujärvi, Yamamoto, Archibald, and Kassian.
    D-men – Nurse, Larsson (If he resigns), and Bear.
    Goalie – Chris Driedger (Hopefully Holland will have acquired him before the expansion draft), if not than the other goalie that has been acquired or Koskinen if no other goalie has been acquired.
    Players of note left unprotected:
    Forwards – Khaira, Dominik Kahun, and Tyler Benson.
    D-men – Klefbom, Slater Koekkoek, Caleb Jones, and William Lagesson.
    Goalies – Stuart Skinner, Alex Stalock, and possible Koskinen if Holland can acquire another goalie before the expansion draft.

    • Oilers are a tough one.
      Agree on Klefbom, I don’t think Seattle will risk it as it is arthritis. Not a great track record of surgery or anything else working. But hey, this was a new procedure, so who knows. I wouldn’t bet the bank on him playing again.

      It’s all about Nuge, if you are worried about him testing the market you sign him. If he wants to check the market regardless, or will wait and sign later, I think you protect 4 D including Larsson or Barrie, whichever they keep.

      No need to protect Kassian IMO.

  9. It seems many teams who made trades with Vegas in order to protect players ended up with Vegas taking the better of the debated players. Causing teams to move draft picks and other players along with the better expansion pick.

    It may be wise for teams to simply not trade with Seattle and let them select from the unprotected list and see where the cards fall.

    • Jeff, yes.

    • Agree Jeff, in the end it’s one player and move on.

  10. The old system where expansion teams got thrown an anchor as their introduction to the league was wrong.

    Equally, so is the new approach which means that an expansion team immediately becomes a real contender. Why should they get such a huge difference over the bottom 10 – 16 teams in the league?

    Surely it would be more balanced if an expansion team got to pick a player from the top 16 teams only. That would give them a competitive team right off the hop, and a way fairer approach for teams like Buffalo, Detroit, Columbus and NJ.

    As context: there has been a lot of pushback against a bottom team continually getting the # 1 draft selection, so the odds have changed.

    Isn’t allowing an expansion team to pick a good player from 32 other teams less equitable? Shouldn’t an expansion team have to earn a contender status as opposed to being handed one?

    • It is less about being competitive and more about creating stable market viability. Remember to most these are considered “Non-Traditional” Hockey Markets. The league has an interest in seeing them generate buzz and interest. Particularly with healthy new TV deals and a flat salary world.

      Players should be excited about this new team, with a flat cap, Seattle is going to create employment that was definetly not going to exist as I’d bet money many teams are going to take a look at their systems this year to fill out their roster.

    • Hi LJ, Times and conditions have changed since prior expansions. Vegas had 500 million and Seattle has 650 million reasons to want a solid team right off the bat.
      Hockey has changed. It’s growing.
      Does it make sense to add a new team that loses 60 games and discourages the fan base?
      Vegas was built to succeed immediately. It’s been wildly successful and adds another solid franchise to the NHL.
      Seattle will follow the pattern.
      It’s simply good business to have a new team become a winner immediately.
      Besides, it sets the groundwork for the next expansion.
      Vegas 500 Million
      Seattle 650 Million
      Houston ??? Million

      On another note, here in NY Rangers fans are calling for Quinn’s head after last night performance against the Isles.

      What are your thought on Quinn?

      As an Isles fan, I think the Ranger fans are too harsh. Every team, since the beginning of time, has to lose before they learn how to win.
      The Rangers have a nice young core and I think that Quinn is a good coach and the right choice to lead them.

      Your opinion may differ.

      • Nevstrip: I did say that allowing a player to be taken from each of the top 16 players would make the expansion team competitive right off the bat. Surely more competitive than the current bottom NHL 10 teams.

        JJB: Seattle is not a non-traditional hockey market. They currently have the Seattle Thunderbirds and the Tri-City Americans’ junior teams.

        So the responses citing competitiveness and non traditional markets aren’t valid.

    • Those bottom 15 teams did that to themselves with poor drafting poor development etc. why should they be given an advantage for their mistakes?

  11. LJ, Tri-Cities is a long way from Seattle!