The NHL will hold an expansion draft on June 21st of this year in which the Vegas Golden Knights will pick one player from each team to build its roster for the 2017/18 season. Each team will have the ability to protect a list of players from the expansion draft but are required to expose a minimum number of players who meet certain criteria.
How many players need to be exposed in the draft? Teams need to expose 2 forwards and 1 defensmen who are under contract for 2017/18, have played at least 40 games this season or have played at least 70 games over the past 2 seasons. They also need to expose a goalie who is either under contract for 2017/18 or is becoming and RFA this season. For the Oilers that means players like Griffin Reinhart and Jujhar Khaira do not meet the criteria so will not count towards the minimum players exposed but it does not make the players exempt and Vegas could still pick these players in the draft if they are not protected.
Are any players exempt from the expansion draft? Yes. Any player who has played 2 or fewer pro seasons and players drafted but not yet signed will be exempt from the draft. The Oilers get a bit lucky here as they will not need to protect Connor McDavid, Darnell Nurse, Drake Caggiula, Anton Slepyshev or Matt Benning.
How many players can the team protect? Teams have 2 options for protecting players, they can choose to protect 7 forwards, 3 defensemen and 1 goalie or they can protect 8 total skaters of any position and 1 goalie. Any player who has a NMC cannot be exposed to the draft and will count towards the protected list unless they choose to waive their NMC. The Oilers have Milan Lucic and Andrej Sekera with NMC’s so they will count towards the protected list.
Who Will the Oilers Protect?
The Oilers will most likely protect 7 forwards and 3 defensmen and already have Lucic and Sekera on the list because of the NMC’s these players have. Here are the players that the Oilers will most likely protect:
Forwards: Milan Lucic (NMC), Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent Hopkins, Patrick Maroon, Zack Kassian and Mark Letestu.
Defense: Andrej Sekera (NMC), Oscar Klefbom and Adam Larsson.
Goalie: Cam Talbot
Who Will be Exposed?
A bit of a wrench in this plan is that Benoit Pouliot, Mark Fayne and Laurent Brossoit are the only players who meet the criteria to count against the minimum list of players exposed. So the Oilers will either need to expose a player like Kassian or Letestu and risk losing them or more likely sign one of their RFA’s like Anton Lander or Iiro Pakarinen before the draft who would then meet the criteria.
Here are the players exposed who could be picked in the draft (I’m not counting players who are set to become UFA’s this offseason):
Forwards: Benoit Pouliot, Anton Lander, Jujhar Khaira, Henrik Samuelsson, Bogdan Yakimov, Iiro Pakarinen, Zachary Pochiro and Justin Fontaine.
Defense: Mark Fayne, Griffin Reinhart, Dillon Simpson, David Musil, Jordan Oesterle and Mark Fraser.
Goalie: Laurent Brossoit
Who Will the Oilers Lose?
Oiler fans would be thrilled if Vegas picked Mark Fayne or Benoit Pouliot but honestly unless the Oilers offer something substantial to Vegas I can’t see them taking either of those guys. Here are the four players I think are at risk of being taken by Vegas:
Jujhar Khaira managed to get into 10 games this season and didn’t look out of place. At 6’3 and 214lbs the 22 year old seems poised to be a full time NHL player next season for the Oilers and could potentially fill a bottom 6 role in Vegas.
Laurent Brossoit took the backup job from Jonas Gustavsson and while he hasn’t seen much action this year he’s looked good his last few outings. In 7 games with the Oilers this season Brossoit has a 1.99GAA and a .934Sv%. Vegas needs to draft a minimum of 3 goalies and I think Brossoit would be a great pick as the third guy.
Griffin Reinhart hasn’t lived up to the hype of being the fourth overall pick in the 2012 Draft or being the return in a trade that sent out the 16th and 33rd picks in the 2015 draft but he does seem on the verge of cracking an NHL roster at the age of 23 and Vegas would likely sign the pending RFA to pretty cheap contract.
Jordan Oesterle would be another cheap option for the Vegas blue line. The 24 year old doesn’t have the draft pedigree or size of Griffin Reinhart but he skates very well and is a strong puck moving defensemen.
If you haven’t already I highly recommend you check out the mock expansion draft tool at capfriendly.