With the NHL’s next expansion draft roughly 16 months away, teams are about to really start focusing on positioning themselves well for Seattle’s arrival. After the Flames went through the Vegas expansion painlessly (losing Deryk Engelland when he was probably going to sign there anyways), it looks like Calgary will be in a much tougher position in June 2021.
With that in mind, I’m starting a series where we look at how a possible protection list would look right now, and how it may change over the next year and a half. We will be using the following assumptions for this list:
- Juuso Valimaki does play hockey this year, making him eligible to be selected
- Milan Lucic either waives his NMC or it no longer applies after the trade last summer
Just a reminder that teams can either protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie, or they can protect eight skaters and a goalie.
Here’s my list based on the Flames current lineup:
- F Matthew Tkachuk
- F Johnny Gaudreau
- F Sean Monahan
- F Elias Lindholm
- F Andrew Mangiapane
- F Dillon Dube
- F Matthew Phillips
- D Rasmus Andersson
- D Juuso Valimaki
- D Noah Hanifin
- G David Rittich
Matthew Phillips jumps onto the list for me since he becomes eligible as a third year pro. He’s had a big season with Stockton and could very likely make the Flames out of training camp next year.
- F Mikael Backlund
- F Milan Lucic
- F Sam Bennett
- F Derek Ryan
- D Mark Giordano
- D Oliver Kylington
Mark Giordano is a real wild card in this scenario. He will be turning 38 when the 2021-22 season begins and in the final year of his current contract. His play has dropped this year, but that’s compared to his Norris level last year which was ridiculous. It’s really hard to pinpoint where he will be in a year and a half. It would suck to see a career Flame wearing another jersey.
I feel the same way with Backlund, however I don’t think you can prioritize him over some of the Flames younger forwards.
Sam Bennett seems to be the most likely selection for Seattle in this situation. He would likely get a top six opportunity and still be young enough to warrant interest. Again it would suck to lose him, but I don’t think I can justify protecting him ahead of the other forwards on the list.
Which notable Flame that I left unprotected would you protect? Vote in the poll below! Click here if you can’t see it.
Which player would choose to protect?
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