Seattle mock expansion draft: Metro Division’s protection lists, picks

This week, theScore's unveiling a five-part series in which we predict who will be protected and picked when the new Seattle franchise selects one player from every other NHL team except Vegas in 2021. Today, we project the Metropolitan Division.

Others in the series: Atlantic | Central (Thursday) | Pacific (Friday) | Full Seattle Roster (Friday)

Before diving into our Metropolitan Division projections, here's a refresher on the expansion draft process:

  • Teams must submit a protected-players list of either seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie OR eight skaters and one goalie
  • All players with no-movement clauses must be protected

  • All first- and second-year players, as well as unsigned draft picks, are exempt and can't be picked

  • Any player with a career-ending injury is also exempt

And some notes about our process:

  • We assumed most 2019 and '20 restricted free agents will re-sign with their current club
  • We made judgment calls on 2019 and '20 unrestricted free agents, projecting some will stay with their current team and others will leave

  • We didn't factor in any trades or buyouts between now and June 2021

  • In the tables below, * indicates the player is a projected free-agent signing before 2021, while bold text indicates the player has a no-movement clause

Carolina Hurricanes

Pos. Protected players
F Jordan Staal
F Teuvo Teravainen
F Sebastian Aho
F Andrei Svechnikov
F Mike Hoffman*
F Martin Necas
F Nicolas Roy
D Dougie Hamilton
D Jaccob Slavin
D Brett Pesce
G Braden Holtby*

Pick: Jake Bean (D)
Other considerations: Micheal Ferland (F), Calvin de Haan (D), Alex Nedeljkovic (G), Callum Booth (G), Janne Kuokkanen (F)

We project the Hurricanes to sign Holtby and Hoffman, who would both land on the protected list. And while it would be tough to watch 2016 first-rounder Bean get plucked for nothing, the club has a surplus of defensemen. Carolina could also potentially lose one of its young goalies - Nedeljkovic or Booth - since the other could be the heir apparent to Holtby, but we predict Seattle opting for Bean due to his upside. Meanwhile, Necas would be exempt if he suits up for fewer than three more NHL games this season, but we expect the talented forward to play an important role down the stretch.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Kirk Irwin / Getty Images Sport / Getty
Pos. Protected players
F Cam Atkinson
F Pierre-Luc Dubois
F Alexander Wennberg
F Josh Anderson
D Seth Jones
D Zach Werenski
D Ryan Murray
D Markus Nutivaara
G Sergei Bobrovsky

Pick: Jakob Silfverberg* (F)
Other considerations: Boone Jenner (F), Gabriel Carlsson (D), Joonas Korpisalo (G), David Savard (D, UFA 2021)

The Blue Jackets could have a difficult decision to make in 2021. Do they go with the 7-3-1 format and risk losing a promising blue-liner in Murray or Nutivaara? Or do they protect eight total skaters and risk losing Silfverberg, who we project lands in Columbus after the team loses Artemi Panarin in free agency? We believe the Jackets would prioritize the young top-four defenseman, leaving Seattle with a reliable two-way winger in Silfverberg.

New Jersey Devils

Pos. Protected players
F Taylor Hall
F Kyle Palmieri
F Nico Hischier
F Jesper Bratt
F Blake Coleman
F Michael McLeod
F Joey Anderson
D Sami Vatanen
D Damon Severson
D Will Butcher
G Mackenzie Blackwood

Pick: Miles Wood (F)
Other considerations: Pavel Zacha (F), Brett Seney (F), John Quenneville (F), Cory Schneider (G), Keith Kinkaid (G), Mats Zuccarello* (F), Derick Brassard* (F)

We see the Devils landing some veteran forwards in free agency - namely Brassard and Zuccarello - to improve their forward depth and replace the likes of Marcus Johansson and Brian Boyle. However, those new pieces wouldn't be worth protecting come June 2021, as they'll already have a ton of mileage on their bodies. Seattle could go with a goalie here, but we're thinking the expansion franchise selects Wood - a speedy north-south winger who already has a 19-goal season under his belt.

New York Islanders

Andy Marlin / National Hockey League / Getty
Pos. Protected players
F Mathew Barzal
F Anders Lee
F Brock Nelson
F Josh Bailey
F Anthony Beauvillier
F Josh Ho-Sang
F Kieffer Bellows
D Ryan Pulock
D Johnny Boychuk
D Scott Mayfield
G Robin Lehner

Pick: Tyler Toffoli* (F)
Other considerations: Michael Dal Colle (F), Nick Leddy (D)

We're projecting the Islanders to land Toffoli as a free agent in 2020 after watching Jordan Eberle jet in 2019. However, Toffoli's track record as a consistent 20-goal scorer likely won't save him from expansion, and he could provide Seattle with a legitimate top-nine forward. It's also possible the Isles' relationship with Ho-Sang goes south over the next 30 months, but for now, the 2014 first-rounder has too much potential to leave off the protected list.

New York Rangers

Pos. Protected players
F Artemi Panarin*
F Mika Zibanejad
F Pavel Buchnevich
F Brett Howden
F Filip Chytil
F Lias Andersson
F Tim Gettinger
D Brady Skjei
D Neal Pionk
D Tony DeAngelo
G Alexandar Georgiev

Pick: Vladislav Namestnikov (F)
Other considerations: Jimmy Vesey (F), Ryan Strome (F), Marc Staal (D, UFA 2021), Kevin Shattenkirk (D, UFA 2021), Henrik Lundqvist (G, UFA 2021)

Already our choice to snag Panarin in free agency this summer, the Rangers appear to benefit most from Seattle's start date moving from 2020 to 2021. The switch allows New York to avoid having to protect Staal, Shattenkirk, and Lundqvist whose contracts all include a no-movement clause and run out in '20-21. (We also predict Mats Zuccarello, Kevin Hayes, and Chris Kreider will find new teams in free agency.) The Rangers could then use three protection spots for youngsters Chytil, Andersson and Howden, leaving Seattle with its pick of a few established forwards. We predict Namestnikov due to his ability to play both center and wing.

Philadelphia Flyers

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty
Pos. Protected players
F Claude Giroux
F Jakub Voracek
F Sean Couturier
F Nolan Patrick
F Travis Konecny
F Oskar Lindblom
F German Rubstov
D Shayne Gostisbehere
D Ivan Provorov
D Travis Sanheim
G Carter Hart

Pick: Philippe Myers (D)
Other considerations: James van Riemsdyk (F), Semyon Varlamov* (G)

Seattle could scoop up a known commodity in Van Riemsdyk, but we don't see the contract he signed this past summer ($35 million over five years) aging well. Instead, it makes more sense for the expansion team to swing for the fences on Myers, a mobile 6-foot-5, 21-year-old blue-liner who somehow went undrafted. We project Philly will sign Varlamov in 2019 - bridging the gap until Hart is ready - and the decision on which goalie to protect should be much easier by 2021.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Pos. Protected players
F Sidney Crosby
F Evgeni Malkin
F Phil Kessel
F Jake Guentzel
F Patric Hornqvist
F Dominik Simon
F Zach Aston-Reese
D Kris Letang
D Brian Dumoulin
D Olli Maatta
G Matt Murray

Pick: Casey DeSmith (G)
Other considerations: Bryan Rust (F), Marcus Pettersson (D), Tanner Pearson (F, UFA 2021), Jamie Oleksiak (D, UFA 2021)

The toughest decision for the Penguins could come in goal. Murray's been awful for a season and a half, but it's too early to write off the two-time Stanley Cup champion. Protecting Murray would leave Seattle with DeSmith, who's posted a stellar .924 save percentage through 34 NHL games. Rust is the only other real contender, though his ceiling doesn't appear to be particularly high.

Washington Capitals

Gary A. Vasquez / USA Today Sports
Pos. Protected players
F Alex Ovechkin
F Evgeny Kuznetsov
F Nicklas Backstrom
F Tom Wilson
F Jakub Vrana
F Lars Eller
F Andre Burakovsky
D John Carlson
D Dmitry Orlov
D Michal Kempny
G Ilya Samsonov

Pick: T.J. Oshie (F)
Other considerations: Madison Bowey (D), Christian Djoos (D), Jonas Siegenthaler (D), Matt Niskanen (D, UFA 2021)

Oshie will be 34 to start the 2021-22 season with four years left on his contract. The Washington state native would give Seattle a marketable player with a winning pedigree who could potentially wear a letter. Meanwhile, we project the Capitals will protect Burakovsky - who's just 23 and still has room to grow - along with Kempny rather than 2021 free agent Niskanen and a trio of up-and-coming defensemen.

Seattle mock expansion draft series:
Atlantic | Metropolitan | Central | Pacific | Full Seattle Roster

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Report: Red Wings want at least 1st-round pick for Howard

For the moment, the price for Jimmy Howard appears to be high.

The Detroit Red Wings have made it clear they want at least a first-round draft selection in exchange for the veteran goaltender, Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman wrote Wednesday.

Howard is a pending unrestricted free agent who boasts a .923 save percentage in 22 games this season. The 34-year-old's contract carries a cap hit of $5.29 million.

In late November, TSN's Darren Dreger reported that the St. Louis Blues were keeping tabs on Howard, but that the netminder would come at a considerable cost.

Howard's in his 13th NHL season - all spent with the Red Wings.

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Powerful Design: Granlund’s vision, precision sets up Dumba’s stunner

Matt Dumba and Mikael Granlund connected twice for goals in the Minnesota Wild's 7-1 demolition of the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night, and Dumba's second marker was a thing of beauty on multiple levels.

The defenseman ripped home a shot off a brilliant Granlund feed to give the Wild a 6-0 lead in the opening minute of the third period, and Minnesota's solid power-play structure allowed the dynamic duo to execute the sequence to perfection. Let's take a look at how they did it.

As we begin, Zach Parise has the puck behind the Canadiens' net, but the Wild aren't fully set up yet.

Parise wiggles free and finds Ryan Suter at the point, in the top right-hand corner of the screen. Now, the Wild are in business.

Suter walks the line and dishes to Granlund on the edge of the circle. Dumba (No. 24), who had been parked at the point on the near side, cuts to the middle as Granlund (No. 64) takes Suter's pass along the boards.

Granlund moves in down low and draws a pair of Canadiens defenders, with two more nearby. His passing options appear limited, but a certain Wild blue-liner is lurking unmarked on the far side.

Dumba, who remains wide open, makes his move toward the goal. Granlund identifies that and feathers a terrific pass that somehow finds its way through four Canadiens.

Dumba receives the dish and wastes no time unleashing a wrist shot.

The wrister ricochets off both posts and past Canadiens goaltender Antti Niemi to give the Wild a six-goal lead.

Minnesota went 4-for-4 on the power play in the game. Dumba's goal from Granlund early in the third offers a shining example of why the Wild were so successful on the man advantage, and why they boast the eighth-most effective power play in the NHL this season.

(Images courtesy: NHL.com)

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Shattenkirk out 2-4 weeks with separated shoulder

New York Rangers defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk will miss two-to-four weeks with a separated shoulder suffered Monday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, the team announced Wednesday.

He sustained the injury on a hit by Lightning forward J.T. Miller.

Shattenkirk ranks sixth on the club among blue-liners in average ice time this season, and he's collected eight points in 29 games.

The 29-year-old signed a four-year, $26.6-million contract with the Rangers on July 1, 2017.

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Backes takes Ekman-Larsson’s skate to face

Warning: Video contains graphic content

There was a scary moment in Boston on Tuesday night midway through the first period when Arizona Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson's skate clipped Bruins forward David Backes in the face.

After dropping to his knees, Backes quickly collected himself and raced off the ice to the Bruins' dressing room.

Luckily, following some treatment during the first intermission, Backes returned for the second period.

The 34-year-old has recorded three goals and three assists in 26 games this season.

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Capitals’ Oshie returns to lineup after 11-game absence

Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie returned to the lineup on Tuesday night after missing the team's last 11 games due to a concussion.

The 31-year-old has been out since Nov. 14 after suffering the fifth concussion of his career.

The Capitals haven't skipped a beat with Oshie on the shelf, as the club has gone 9-2-0 without him. Washington sits atop the Metropolitan Division entering Tuesday night with 37 points.

Prior to his injury, Oshie had contributed nine goals and 14 points in 18 games.

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Seattle mock expansion draft: Atlantic Division’s protection lists, picks

Seattle's freshly unveiled NHL franchise may not have a moniker or a general manager - or even a timetable for announcing them either - but it does have a timeline for something rather juicy: the next expansion draft.

In June 2021, the GM of the Seattle Whatevers will acquire 30 players in one day. Following the same rules and regulations as the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017, Seattle will partake in the league's second expansion draft in four years, selecting one player from each NHL team except Vegas.

Because it’s fun to forecast, we’ve brought out the crystal ball here at theScore to look deep into the future and craft a dangerously early Seattle mock draft.

Others in the series: Metropolitan | Central (Thursday) | Pacific (Friday) | Full Seattle Roster

Guided by the invaluable CapFriendly.com, we’ll be rolling out protected lists and picks this week for all four divisions, starting with the Atlantic.

First, though, a refresher on the expansion draft process and its criteria:

  • Teams must submit a protected-players list of either seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie OR eight skaters and one goalie
  • All players with no-movement clauses must be protected

  • All first- and second-year players, as well as unsigned draft picks, are exempt and can't be picked

  • Any player with a career-ending injury is also exempt

And some notes about our process:

  • We assumed most 2019 and '20 restricted free agents will re-sign with their current club
  • We made judgment calls on 2019 and '20 unrestricted free agents, projecting some will stay with their current team and others will leave

  • We didn't factor in any trades or buyouts between now and June 2021

  • In the tables below, * indicates the player is a projected free-agent signing before 2021, while bold text indicates the player has a no-movement clause

With all the disclaimers out of the way, here are our educated guesses for the Atlantic Division squads:

Boston Bruins

Pos. Protected players
F Patrice Bergeron
F Brad Marchand
F David Pastrnak
F Jake DeBrusk
F Kevin Hayes*
F Ryan Donato
F Trent Frederic
D Charlie McAvoy
D Torey Krug
D Brandon Carlo
G Dan Vladar

Pick: Matt Grzelcyk (D)
Other considerations: Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (F), Anders Bjork (F), Tuukka Rask (G, UFA 2021)

Could Grzelcyk be to Seattle what Nate Schmidt was to Vegas? The smooth-skating blue-liner has a tough path to big minutes with the Bruins, and barring a breakout season, it's unlikely he'd be protected over Carlo. Forsbacka Karlsson is also tempting due to the lack of centers available. Rask will be 34 for the 2021-22 season and without a contract, making Boston's decision to protect the 6-foot-5 Vladar an easy choice.

Buffalo Sabres

Scott Audette / National Hockey League / Getty
Pos. Protected players
F Jack Eichel
F Jeff Skinner
F Sam Reinhart
F Conor Sheary
F Tage Thompson
F Casey Mittelstadt
F Alexander Nylander
D Rasmus Ristolainen
D Rasmus Dahlin
D Lawrence Pilut
G Linus Ullmark

Pick: Chris Tanev* (D)
Other considerations: Kyle Okposo (F), Evan Rodrigues (F), Carter Hutton (G, UFA 2021)

We're projecting Tanev signs a deal with the contending Sabres as a free agent in the summer of 2020 but becomes the odd man out in the draft thanks to the emergence of Pilut. Tanev, a right-handed veteran, would bring stability to Seattle's defense corps or serve as a possible trade chip. The Golden Knights flipped many defensemen they selected.

Detroit Red Wings

Pos. Protected players
F Dylan Larkin
F Anthony Mantha
F Andreas Athanasiou
F Michael Rasmussen
F Tyler Bertuzzi
F Evgeny Svechnikov
F Martin Frk
D Dennis Cholowski
D Filip Hronek
D Jake Muzzin*
G Jimmy Howard

Pick: Vili Saarijarvi (D)
Other considerations: Christoffer Ehn (F), Joe Hicketts (D)

The Red Wings don't project to leave a whole lot for Seattle, but Saarijarvi, currently a 21-year-old defenseman, is having a solid season in the AHL. As for some of Detroit's veterans missing from this list, Frans Nielsen will be far too old to be protected by then, while we have Gustav Nyquist departing as a free agent in 2019.

Florida Panthers

Bruce Bennett / Getty Images
Pos. Protected players
F Aleksander Barkov
F Jonathan Huberdeau
F Vincent Trocheck
F Evgenii Dadonov
F Charlie Coyle*
F Jared McCann
F Henrik Borgstrom
D Aaron Ekblad
D Keith Yandle
D Michael Matheson
G Samuel Montembeault

Pick: Denis Malgin (F)
Other considerations: Frank Vatrano (F), Alex Petrovic (D), Mark Pysyk (D), Nick Bjugstad (F, UFA 2021)

Malgin has failed to take a step forward with the Panthers this year, but his potential and ability to play center could be too enticing for Seattle to pass up. Vatrano might be a future 20-goal scorer, but such players are a dime a dozen for Seattle. Also of note: James Reimer's contract will be expiring, while Roberto Luongo will be 42 during the 2021-22 season, making Montembeault, a 2015 third-rounder, Florida's protected goalie.

Montreal Canadiens

Pos. Protected players
F Jonathan Drouin
F Brendan Gallagher
F Max Domi
F Jesperi Kotkaniemi
F Tomas Tatar
F Gustav Nyquist*
F Artturi Lehkonen
D Shea Weber
D Jake Gardiner*
D Noah Juulsen
G Carey Price

Pick: Victor Mete (D)
Other considerations: Joel Armia (F), Paul Byron (F), Phillip Danault (F, UFA 2021)

With plenty of cap room, we're thinking the Canadiens splurge in the summer of 2019, reuniting old friends Tatar and Nyquist, and stealing Gardiner from a division foe. This manufactures a tough decision for the Canadiens: protect Mete or Juulsen on the back end, and Armia or Lehkonen up front? Seattle opts to take the exposed Mete, who will be just 23 in 2021-22.

Ottawa Senators

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty
Pos. Protected players
F Mark Stone
F Bobby Ryan
F Chris Tierney
F Colin White
F Brady Tkachuk
F Drake Batherson
F Logan Brown
D Thomas Chabot
D Tyler Myers*
D Maxime Lajoie
G Filip Gustavsson

Pick: Ryan Dzingel (F)
Other considerations: Ryan Spooner* (F), Zach Bogosian* (D), Cody Ceci (D), Dylan DeMelo (D), Jacob Markstrom* (G)

With an abundance of cap room after Matt Duchene's projected departure via free agency, it would make sense for the Senators to address their blue line by signing Myers in the summer of 2019 and Bogosian in 2020. Assuming Craig Anderson retires once his contract is up in 2020, perhaps Markstrom is brought in to bridge the gap until Filip Gustavsson is ready. Forced to protect younger players and the immovable Ryan, Ottawa could easily lose a top-six forward in Dzingel, who's on pace for 30 goals this season.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Pos. Protected players
F Steven Stamkos
F Nikita Kucherov
F Brayden Point
F Yanni Gourde
F J.T. Miller
F Mathieu Joseph
F Anthony Cirelli
D Victor Hedman
D Ryan McDonagh
D Mikhail Sergachev
G Andrei Vasilevskiy

Pick: Tyler Johnson (F)
Other considerations: Ondrej Palat (F), Alex Killorn (F), Erik Cernak (D), Connor Ingram (G)

Even if the Lightning make some trades in preparation for the expansion draft, it's clear they're going to fork over one of their top players to Seattle. While Palat and Killorn are tempting, Johnson is the choice here, and not just because he's a native of Spokane, Wash., but because he instantly becomes the team's No. 1 center and potential inaugural captain.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty
Pos. Protected players
F Auston Matthews
F John Tavares
F Mitch Marner
F William Nylander
F Kasperi Kapanen
F Nazem Kadri
F Andreas Johnsson
D Morgan Rielly
D Travis Dermott
D Nikita Zaitsev
G Frederik Andersen

Pick: Connor Brown (F)
Other considerations: Andreas Borgman (D), Garret Sparks (G), Zach Hyman (F, UFA 2021), Calle Rosen (D, UFA 2021)

As it stands now, the Maple Leafs look primed to protect all of their top NHL assets. Plus, up-and-coming defensemen Rasmus Sandin and Timothy Liljegren - the club's most recent first-round picks - are exempt. Seattle then projects to select Brown, the hard-working, versatile winger.

Seattle mock expansion draft series:
Atlantic | Metropolitan | Central | Pacific | Full Seattle Roster

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Maple Leafs-Canadiens to be Bob Cole’s final HNIC broadcast

Two storied rivals will provide the backdrop for a legendary hockey broadcaster's final regular-season game.

Bob Cole will call the April 6 matchup between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Montreal Canadiens for his last broadcast before the playoffs, as well as five other additional games, Sportsnet announced Tuesday.

The Leafs-Canadiens tilt will take place on the final Saturday night of the regular season.

Cole was originally only scheduled to work through 2018, with two more games on tap in December. Here are the remaining games he'll call, including the half-dozen new assignments in 2019:

Day Date Away Home
Saturday Dec.15 Senators Canadiens
Saturday Dec. 22 Rangers Maple Leafs
Saturday Jan. 5 Predators Canadiens
Wednesday Feb. 6 Senators Maple Leafs
Saturday March 9 Senators Bruins
Saturday March 16 Blackhaws Canadiens
Saturday March 30 Canadiens Jets
Saturday April 6 Maple Leafs Canadiens

Cole is in his 50th and final season on Hockey Night in Canada.

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Remember, we are all Canucks!