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Who would the Flames Protect in an Expansion Draft?

Which players would the Flames keep if the draft was this summer

NHL: Dallas Stars at Calgary Flames Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports

With the NHL’s Board of Governor’s set to meet next week, it looks almost certain that the NHL will be welcoming a 32nd team into the NHL. The new franchise will be based in Seattle, and could begin play as early as 2020-2021, or possibly 2021-22.

That means there will be yet another expansion draft coming up. The draft would take place after the 2019-2020 season, with only Vegas being exempt as a new franchise themselves.

The Calgary Flames had probably the best expansion draft in the entire league the last time around, with the Vegas Golden Knights opting to sign Deryk Engelland (who was already definitely going there) in their negotiation window. Therefore the Knights ended up not taking anyone from the Flames roster, and Engelland became a de facto captain of the team.

This time around, there is almost no way the Flames won’t be losing a good player of their roster, so I thought I’d take an early look at who the Flames could/should protect in 2020, and if there was an expansion draft after this season as well.

Here is a quick refresher of the expansion draft rules:

  • Teams can protect either 7F/3D/1G or 8 skaters and 1 goalie
  • All first and second year professionals would be exempt from the draft
  • Teams must expose 2F/1D/1G under contract the next season and played at least 40 NHL Games the prior season

With those rules in mind, let’s try creating a Flames protection list for the next two offseasons starting with 2019.

2019 Expansion Draft

While there won’t actually be any draft this summer, it’s fun to see how a Flames protection list would shape up based on what we’ve seen this year.

Juuso Valimaki and Dillon Dube would be automatically protected if this draft were to take place.

After looking at the Flames roster, a 7F/3D/1G protection list seems to make the most sense, here are the results:

  • F Johnny Gaudreau
  • F Sean Monahan
  • F Elias Lindholm
  • F Matthew Tkachuk
  • F Mikael Backlund
  • F Sam Bennett
  • F Mark Jankowski (Maybe?)
  • D Mark Giordano
  • D Noah Hanifin
  • D Rasmus Andersson
  • G David Rittich

Notable Exposed: F Derek Ryan, F James Neal, F Austin Czarnik, F Garnet Hathaway, F Michael Frolik, D T.J. Brodie, D Travis Hamonic, D Oliver Kylington, D Mike Stone, G Mike Smith (technically UFA), G Jon Gillies

It’s safe to say that if the expansion draft was actually this summer, the Flames may have been looking to jettison defencemen in order to protect their assets. Even then it looks like the Flames would lose a pretty good player from their roster so it may be better to just bite the bullet.

The seventh forward spot is one that I grappled with in that Mark Jankowski is still relatively young and developing compared to some of the others on the block. If James Neal turns it around he could work his way on there, but even if he does it may be better long-term to have him exposed/selected.

2020 Expansion Draft

This is the year that the expansion draft seems like it’ll occur unless there is a delay with the Seattle arena project in which case it would be in 2021. Valimaki and Dube would both still be automatically protected as second year pros in this draft.

Obviously the Flames roster could look quite different by the end of 2019-2020, but most of the current core seems to have long term importance and as such many changes to their protected players seems unlikely.

  • F Johnny Gaudreau
  • F Sean Monahan
  • F Elias Lindholm
  • F Matthew Tkachuk
  • F Mikael Backlund
  • F Sam Bennett
  • F Jankowski or other forward?
  • D Noah Hanifin
  • D Rasmus Andersson
  • D ??? (Gio, Hamonic, Brodie, Kylington, Other?)
  • G David Rittich (or other #1 goalie)

In a 2020 expansion draft, the biggest question will be whether or not the Flames should protect Mark Giordano. It’s a no brainer to protect him after this year, but he’d be 37 before the start of the 2020-2021 season and on a $6.75M contract.

I asked the question on Twitter yesterday, and roughly 34 of people thought that the Flames shouldn’t protect him in the 2020 expansion draft.

Regardless of what the Flames do to protect themselves, it looks like they’re poised to lose a pretty good player in the expansion draft. The best course of action for them will be for them to just accept it, rather than trying to make a trade with Seattle with little bargaining power. We saw how that worked out for certain teams like Columbus and the Islanders last time around with Vegas.

One thing is abundantly clear, the Flames won’t be getting a free ride this time.