WE CAN’T WAIT FOR: NHL Expansion Draft: July 21 — NHL Entry Draft: July 23 & 24 — NHL Free Agency: July 28
Days until start of 2021-22 NHL Season: 85 days
WHAT A GEEKIE: The Hurricanes inked forward Morgan Geekie to a one-year extension, locking him down on a two-way contract to allow for needed roster flexibility next season. Geekie has 13 points in 38 career games with Carolina.
READY LEDDY: The Red Wings traded for Nick Leddy on Friday, sending Richard Panik and a 2021 second-round pick (No. 52) to the Islanders in exchange for the veteran defenseman. Detroit also retained half of Panik’s remaining salary.
SEEING STARS: The Stars sent forward Jason Dickinson to the Canucks in exchange for the 73rd pick in this season’s NHL entry draft. Dickinson had 15 points in 51 games for Dallas this past season.
OVER THE HILL: The Coyotes traded goalie Adin Hill and a 2022 seventh-round pick to the Sharks for goalie Josef Korenar and a 2022 second-round pick. The move solidified Arizona’s commitment to Darcy Kuemper, as they could not protect both him and Hill.
TORONTO TRADES: The Maple Leafs scored big before the expansion draft trade freeze, landing forward Jared McCann from the Penguins for prospect Filip Hallander and a 2023 seventh-round pick.
HOME ON THE RANGE(R): The Rangers stayed busy over the weekend, acquiring Barclay Goodrow from the Lightning for a 2022 seventh-round pick, and later got Nick DeSimone and a 2022 fourth-rounder from the Golden Knights for Brett Howden.
TIC-TAC-TRADE: The Flyers, Predators, and Golden Knights combined for a three-team trade, providing peak excitement prior to the expansion draft’s trade freeze. Philadelphia receives defenseman Ryan Ellis, Nashville gets defenseman Philippe Myers and forward Cody Glass, and Vegas obtains forward Nolan Patrick. What Chaos!
BE A GOOD LADD: The Arizona Coyotes acquired veteran forward Andrew Ladd and a plethora of draft picks in exchange for taking on his massive contract — especially noteworthy considering he has played just 30 games in the NHL since the 2018-19 season. The picks included in the deal are second-rounders in both 2021 and 2022, and a 2023 third-rounder.
MAKING BANK: Dallas defenseman Miro Heiskanen signed an eight-year, $67.7 million extension, a rare departure from the flurry of trades we saw on Saturday. At least someone is hanging around!
Weekend Wheelin’ & Dealin’
The upcoming NHL Expansion Draft made for some big news on Sunday with the announcement of each club’s protected/exposed list, following a weekend that was full of trade activity. The Detroit Red Wings opened the proceedings on Friday by acquiring Nick Leddy from the New York Islanders, followed by eight other deals, making for a busy Saturday across the league
Since these deals can’t all be evaluated in a vacuum given the expansion considerations, let’s group them based on whether the involved teams acquiring players to protect from selection or to leave unprotected:
Nick Leddy – Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings surrendered Richard Panik — who was unsurprisingly left unprotected — and a second-round pick to the Islanders for the 11-year veteran, so there was no chance they would risk losing him for nothing days later.
Jason Dickinson – Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks had a spare protection slot that the Stars did not, so they were able to land the 26-year-old restricted free agent and potential third-line center for the cost of a third-round pick.
Adin Hill – San Jose Sharks
Arizona wasn’t anxious to part with either Darcy Kuemper or Hill, but at least they came away with a second-round pick and goaltender prospect Josef Korenar as part of their decision to protect Kuemper. And the Sharks may now have their goalie of the future.
Ryan Ellis – Philadelphia Flyers
Arguably the biggest addition of the day, Ellis wasn’t going anywhere once the Flyers were able to land him from Nashville. Coming at the high cost of youngsters Nolan Patrick and Philippe Myers, Ellis now becomes a crucial component of a back end that also includes Travis Sanheim and Ivan Provorov.
Cody Glass – Nashville Predators
Upon acquiring Patrick in the Ellis deal, Nashville immediately flipped him to Vegas for Glass. If you are wondering why Nashville would prefer a 22-year-old taken sixth overall in 2017 to one taken second overall, it’s important to note that Glass did not require expansion protections — whereas Patrick did due to having played more NHL games.
Jared McCann – Toronto Maple Leafs
By adding McCann from Pittsburgh for Filip Hallander and a seventh-round pick, the Maple Leafs left their third-line center role in the hands of Seattle GM Ron Francis: take McCann and Alex Kerfoot keeps the role, take Kerfoot and McCann slots in.
Barclay Goodrow – New York Rangers
The Rangers and new president Chris Drury deemed an exclusive window to negotiate a contract with pending free agent Goodrow was worth a seventh-round pick, just not a protection slot. Alternately, the Lightning lost Goodrow and will lose another asset to Seattle — and they’ll still be the team to beat this year.
Brett Howden – Vegas Golden Knights
The expansion reality has been a challenging one for just about every NHL club — except Vegas. So when the Golden Knights opted to trade minor league journeyman Nick DeSimone and a 2022 fourth rounder to the Rangers for depth-forward Brett Howden, they did so entirely free of the constraints of the expansion draft.
Can Seattle Viva Las Vegas?
It’s the million-dollar question, isn’t it? Let’s be honest with ourselves — it will be difficult for any new franchise to replicate what the Vegas Golden Knights did in their inaugural season. During that historical run, everything came together and was tied with a neat little bow. It was the perfect general manager who hired the ideal head coach to lead a roster of misfits looking to prove themselves.
Now, we are bracing for another expansion draft. Each teams’ protection list was announced yesterday and there were some surprises that made the hockey Twitterverse question if certain GMs learned their lesson from the Vegas Expansion Draft.
Let’s set the stage — multiple teams left many well-known names unprotected. One of the biggest being goaltender Carey Price, but it does not stop there. Other exposed players include Alexander Ovechkin, Gabriel Landeskog, Max Domi, Vladimir Tarasenko, Yanni Gourde, and Matt Duchene — and those are just the forwards. P.K. Subban, Vince Dunn, Dougie Hamilton, Kevin Shattenkirk, and Nikita Zadorov are also up for grabs to fill up the blue line. Seattle’s general manager, Ron Francis, can put together a threatening team with the players available.
It is possible Seattle could make a run at matching Vegas’ inaugural season. Francis can put together a roster with a good mix of young blood and veteran leadership. There are also a handful of goalies available to choose from. It is likely they will take Chris Driedger from the Florida Panthers who finished this past regular season with a .927 save percentage. Sniper Tarasenko will most likely land in the Pacific Northwest, which will give the Kraken an advantage in an eventual trade. Seattle will be holding all the right cards this offseason, and if I were in their division — I’m looking at you Anaheim and San Jose — I would be nervous.
Of course, like most things in life, there is always a negative side. The Kraken can choose from Stanley Cup victors, Conn Smythe winners among other NHL Award recipients. This scenario seems like a dream for any new franchise — the only problem is that most of these players are closer to retirement than winning the Calder. If this expansion draft were in 2012 Seattle would be putting a lethal team onto the ice. However, it is 2021, and it is safe to say these players’ best years are behind them.
It is possible that if Seattle chooses a handful of these prominent players they could have a decent inaugural season — but it may not be best for the club long-term. Only time will tell, and the Kraken are on the clock come Wednesday.