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An Expansion Draft is Coming... Who Would You Protect?

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If an expansion draft happened today, the Kings would certainly lose a player or two. Time to decide who's important.

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

August is normally the quietest month of the year in the hockey world. So yesterday's news that NHL expansion to Las Vegas is essentially a done deal was wonderful, wasn't it? Along with the rumor (less supported) that Quebec, Toronto, and Seattle are also potential expansion sites in 2017, it was a pretty fantastic chance for us to make terrible puns, speculate about what the NHL is thinking, and relish the possibility of an expansion draft.

Oh, right, the expansion draft. If two or four more teams pop up in two years, they'll get their players by drafting from the existing teams in the NHL. Each team is allowed to protect one of the following combinations of players:

  • 1 goalie, 5 defensemen, 9 forwards
  • 2 goalies, 3 defensemen, 7 forwards

The second option is only available to teams who can leave a third goalie with prior NHL experience unprotected, so the Los Angeles Kings would have to take that first option. (That seems like the better option anyway, though.) Players who are exempt include first-year or second-year pros and unsigned draft choices. Only two players can be chosen from each team, and a team cannot lose both a defenseman and a goaltender.

It would be interesting to see how certain teams behave in an expansion draft, especially if four teams are participating at once. In the salary cap era, teams will almost certainly use this as an opportunity to dump a bad contract or two, meaning the pickings won't be as slim as they were during the last expansion draft. (Also, I recommend reading about the under-the-table deals that teams negotiate to keep teams from taking their players. Couldn't you see LA doing that to hold on to Martin Jones?)

Anyway, let's speculate. Given the current rules, which Kings players would you choose to protect in a possible expansion draft?