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NHL Expansion Draft: Who should the Toronto Maple Leafs protect?

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Who should the Leafs expose for the expansion draft, and should we worry?

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Toronto Maple Leafs v Colorado Avalanche Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

With the NHL welcoming the Las Vegas Black Knights into the league for the 2017/18 season, an expansion draft will be held. With an expansion draft coming we have plenty of chances for what the internet is best at:

~WILD SPECULATION!~

[Rules]

From the Globe & Mail:

Teams cannot reacquire players they trade after Jan. 1, 2017 prior to Jan. 1, 2018. This is to prevent teams from entering arrangements to "hide" players from the expansion draft. There will likely be a lot more guidelines as part of this rule.

Sounds reasonable to me, no more of your sneaky sheningans GM’s.

Teams have to expose at least two forwards and one defenceman who have played either 40 games in the previous season (2016-17) or 70 games in the previous two seasons (2015-17). Teams can only lose a max of one player.

Don’t want the Black Knights to be as terrible as the expansion Capitals, very important.

The expansion team must select players that have a total value of between 60 and 100 per cent of the 2016-17 salary cap.

Ok.

The expansion team can’t buy out anyone it picks in the expansion draft until the following off-season (2018).

Probably keeps down some backdoor "take this guy to buy out and we’ll slip you a draft pick or two" deals.

The expansion team will be given the same draft lottery odds as the team that finishes third last in the league and cannot pick later than sixth in the 2017 NHL entry draft. It’s possible the expansion team could end up with the first overall pick, if it wins the lottery.

No! I want another "spin and win" scenario!

Teams must protect players that have no-movement clauses active in the 2017-18 season. No-movement clauses active in 2016-17 will have no impact.

This is the one that caused a lot of arm flailing. The Leafs still have Nathan Horton, and he has an NMC. Remember that players can waive it for trades, or in this instance, drafts. With almost no expectation to play again I don’t see a reason Horton wouldn’t waive the clause.

Why is your list different from General Fanagers?

General Fanager's tool is so fantastic, and I've done 4 expansion drafts already. I don't like playing guessing games however, and while a player like William Nylander is 99.9% going to make the Leafs out of camp, and Mitch Marner shouldn't be going back to junior, I personally don't want to guess on that because then it opens a pandoras box of  assumptions, like re-singing Grabner, or Parenteau for another year, etc...

I'm looking at the roster as it stands at the end of the 2015/16 season and how the future looks right now. Anyone UFA on July 1st was left off the list.

[Ineligible Leafs]

Below is a list of Maple Leafs players who are currently signed and as of right now would be exempted from the expansion draft:

Player NHL Seasons Cap Hit Final Season
William Nylander 0 $894,166 2017/18
Frederik Gauthier 0 $863,333 2017/18
Tobias Lindberg 0 $693,333 2017/18
Kasimir Kaskisuo 0 $925,000 2017/18
Mitch Marner 0 $894,166 2018/19
Travis Dermott 0 $894,166 2018/19
Rinat Valiev 0 $778,333 2017/18
Andreas Johnson 0 $750,833 2017/18
Nikita Soshnikov 0 $736,666 2017/18
Andrew Nielsen 0 $700,833 2017/18
Dmytro Timashov 0 $691,666 2017/18
Sam Carrick 0 $600,000 RFA
Bryon Froese 1 $575,000 2017/18
Frank Corrado 1 $632,500 RFA
Garret Sparks 0 $670,000 RFA
Nikita Zaitsev 0 $925,000 2016/17
Zach Hyman 0 $925,000 2016/17
Stuart Percy 0 $863,333 RFA
Josh Leivo 0 $792,500 RFA
Viktor Loov 0 $692,500 2017/18
Connor Brown 0 $686,666 2017/18
Antoine Bibeau 0 $655,000 2017/18
Connor Carrick 0 $636,666 RFA
Colin Smith 0 $628,333 RFA
Scott Harrington 0 $589,166 RFA
Kasperi Kapanen 0 $863,333 2019/19

*Seasons refers to # of seasons played by this year that would qualify them for the expansion draft.

[Eligible Leafs]

Below is a list of Maple Leafs players who are currently signed and could be taken in the expansion draft:

Player NHL Seasons Cap Hit Final Season
Joffrey Lupul 13 $5,250,000 2017/18
Nazem Kadri 4 $4,500,000 2021/22
James van Riemsdyk 7 $4,250,000 2017/18
Tyler Bozak 6 $4,200,000 2017/18
Leo Komarov 3 $2,950,000 2017/18
Morgan Rielly 3 $5,000,000 2021/22
Jake Gardiner 4 $4,050,000 2018/19
Nathan Horton 10 $5,300,000 2019/20
Peter Holland 2 $775,000 RFA
Martin Marincin 1 $700,000 RFA
Brooks Laich 11 $4,500,000 2016/17
Milan Michalek 12 $4,000,000 2016/17
Colin Greening 5 $2,650,000 2016/17
Matt Hunwick 9 $1,200,000 2016/17
Andrew Campbell 2 $575,000 2016/17
Jonathan Bernier 6 $4,150,000 2016/17
Stephane Robidas 16 $3,000,000 2016/17

*Seasons refers to # of seasons played by this year that would qualify them for the expansion draft.

[My list]

Well, the problem with making this list a year early is that the Leafs only have 12 players who would be eligible, and it's not hard to choose. There are plenty of players who become UFA’s before the draft,  if resigned would be eligible for the expansion draft, but they aren't yet so they aren't on my lists (Boyes, Grabner, etc..), neither are players who, as I said above, should be eligible if all our plans and hopes come true.

Below are the players I would protect, then the players I would expose.

Protect:
Forwards: James van Reimsdyk, Nazem Kadri, Peter Holland
Defense: Morgan Reilly, Jake Gardiner
Goal: N/A

Expose:
Forwards: Joffrey Lupul, Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov, Nathan Horton, Brooks Laich, Milan Michalek, Colin Greening
Defense: Martin Marincin, Matt Hunwick, Andrew Campbell, Stephane Robidas
Goal: Jonathan Bernier

Okay, I am making one assumption and that's where Horton waives his NMC, 1) because as long as he's getting paid I doubt he cares who holds his rights and 2) no way Vegas takes that uninsured contract.

We can see we have plenty of room for more players to protect, maybe a certain centre.....

There is lots of room on this roster for veterans and UFA's, and once the season begins we'll take a look at this list again, and then review at the trade deadline, and just before the expansion draft itself.

This is going to be a fun year, for the off ice moves alone.

Who would you keep? Who would you expose?