The Four Oddest Players Who Could Be Protected for the Expansion Draftby Carter LaCorte May 11, 2021 0 comments
The NHL is expanding again, and you know what that means; one player from every team (except for the Golden Knights, who are a top-five team!) will prepare to move cities as they join the first class of the Seattle Kraken. Expansion Draft mocks are always fun, and you may see more as we get closer to the day. But first, the protected lists have to come out. Like it was with the Vegas draft a few years ago, teams get to protect one goalie always, plus either eight skaters, or seven forwards and three defensemen. When you have imbalanced teams, that could lead to some wacky names getting protected. Here are some of them.
Jonas Siegenthaler, New Jersey Devils
Siegenthaler has the potential to be a solid second or third-pairing defenseman. He was a good defensive defenseman for the Capitals last year but was mostly scratched for Washington after Justin Schultz, Zdeno Chara, and Trevor van Riemsdyk were brought aboard. He was traded to New Jersey near the deadline and has appeared in seven games since. Siegenthaler just turned 24, and he will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season. It makes sense that Seattle may want to take a flier on him, but he doesn’t have the profile to be protected by most teams.
That is where the Devils could make things interesting. Will Butcher and Damon Severson will undoubtedly be protected barring a trade. The third spot is more complicated. Ryan Murray and Connor Carrick will be unrestricted free agents, so there is not really a purpose to protect them. Ty Smith and Kevin Bahl are both exempt, which leaves P.K. Subban. Subban has one year remaining at a $9 million cap hit. The Devils would love to clear that, and Subban has not been as advertised with New Jersey. Siegenthaler is therefore left as the best option.
David Kampf, Chicago Blackhawks
The quartet of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Alex DeBrincat, and Dylan Strome will be protected. The rest depends on if Chicago decides to go with the standard or the eight skater method. Surprising rookie Brandon Hagel and former 8th overall pick Alexander Nylander could influence the Blackhawks to go with seven forwards. That would leave the seventh up to debate.
Of the remaining forwards, Henrik Borgstrom is a possibility, as a former first-rounder. But, there is a level of uncertainty regarding Borgstrom’s return to North America. Adam Gaudette was acquired from the Canucks at the trade deadline, but he is yet to prove himself as a legitimate NHL player.
Adam Gaudette, acquired by CHI, is a 24 year old fourth liner who has been caved in at both ends his entire career and has not shown very much aside from a bit of goal scoring last season. #Blackhawks pic.twitter.com/B4eF09GFlE
— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) April 12, 2021
That leaves defensive forwards Ryan Carpenter and Kampf. Carpenter will be a free agent after next year and is 30-years-old. Despite just one goal in 55 games, Kampf is 26 and is an RFA after the season. He can play bottom-six minutes, which could tempt the Blackhawks to keep him.
Givani Smith, Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings have a similar 7th forward issue as the Blackhawks. The options besides Smith include Vladislav Namestnikov, Richard Panik, and Adam Erne. No really, that is just about it. Of those three, only Panik has proved to be a contributor for the future, but he is unlikely to go anywhere as he is signed through 2023 with a $2.75 million cap hit.
This brings us to Smith. A 23-year-old grinder with 38 penalty minutes in 21 AHL games this year, Smith was drafted in the second round in 2016. He has just seven points in 37 career games, but with 70 hits. His physicality could make the Red Wings decide to prevent Smith from moving to Seattle.
Josef Korenar, San Jose Sharks
This one is easily the weirdest of the list, which is why it comes last. If the Sharks were to protect Korenar, an undrafted 23-year-old from the Czech Republic, it would not be due to his play. In 10 career NHL appearances, all this year, Korenar has a .899 save percentage and a 3.17 GAA. He has not shown the Sharks anything to make them think that he can be even a backup in the future, but here we are. The only other goalie that the Sharks can protect is their starter, Martin Jones. While Korenar does meet the requirements to be exposed, there is a reason for the Sharks to expose Jones.
With a save percentage of exactly .896 in each of his last three seasons (subject to change for 2020-21), Jones is easily the league’s worst starter. He is signed through 2024 with a $5.75 million cap hit. Trying to dangle him in front of Seattle’s eyes most likely won’t work, but it could be worth a shot. Plus, if the Sharks do see anything in Korenar, they get their chance to keep him.