Over the past few weeks, we’ve broken down each team’s situation with regard to the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft. Which players are eligible, who will likely deserve protection, and which could be blocked to avoid the risk of losing them? for nothing ? Each team must submit their protection lists by 4:00 p.m. CDT on July 17th. The full eligibility rules can be viewed here, while CapFriendly has a extension tool to make your own lists.
The last time the Coyotes faced an expansion draft, they ended up losing a player they weren’t even planning on signing. Teemu Pulkkinen was an unsigned restricted free agent who had played just four games for the Coyotes at the end of the 2016-17 season. He was caught by Vegas and signed a one-year contract, but spent the entire season in the minor leagues before moving to the KHL. In retrospect, Brad richardson Probably should have been the Golden Knights’ choice, but even that certainly wouldn’t have pushed the needle much for them. This time around they’re in a similar situation, but there might be a few more interesting names for the Kraken than Pulkkinen ever has for Vegas.
Eligible players (non UFA)
Clayton keller, Phil kessel (NMC), Nick schmaltz, Christian Dvorak, Tyler pitlick, Lawson Crouse, Johan larsson, Christian Fischer, Brayden burke, Conor garland, Tyler Steenbergen, John Hayden, Dryden Hunting, Blake speers, Pederson Way, Frédéric gauthier
Notable unrestricted free agents
With so many unrestricted free agents hitting the books this summer, the Coyotes are actually in a position to add more players over the next few days. The Coyotes could potentially grab an impact defender or additional attacker and protect them, which few teams can accommodate right now. If teams risk losing a valuable asset for nothing, why not get at least one clearance prize in the wilderness?
If that doesn’t happen, there is a decision to be made up front. The Coyotes need to protect Kessel unless he waives his lock-in clause, but he was their top scorer last season anyway. Garland is still a RFA, and there have been rumors of trade negotiations, but he’s also one of the team’s most important assets. Keller, Schmaltz, and Dvorak are basically all underachieving in terms of how much they’re paid, but unless the team wants to attempt a drastic cap reduction by letting them go to Seattle for free, they’ll be protected. Crouse is coming off a brutal year as he has scored just four goals in 51 games, but he’s still young (24) and cheap enough ($ 1.53 million) to deserve to hope for a season rebound in 2021-2022.
That leaves only one protective slot for a group of attackers including Pitlick, Larsson, Fischer, Hunt, and Hayden. Neither name comes across as a player “in need of protection,” meaning the Coyotes could expose a handful of marginal attackers and let the expansion squad take their pick, like a few years ago. Pitlick might be at the top of this group in terms of probability, but it’s not a slam dunk for any of them.
An interesting name to mention is Bunting, who is a Group VI unrestricted free agent, but has seen some hype due to his late season play and World Championship gold medal with Team Canada. . The 25-year-old forward has scored more goals (10) in 21 games for the Coyotes than Pitlick and Fischer combined, and he could be an attractive target for the Kraken in their exclusive trading window. That’s unless the Arizona front office signs it first, given that it still has the ability to protect it.
In defense, there is little to worry about losing an impact player. The Coyotes will protect Ekman-Larsson because of his NMC and Chychrun because he is the best player on the team. After that, there is nothing left to use the third place. Lyubushkin would be a nice piece to protect, but he is currently the only player (other than Ekman-Larsson and Chychrun) who meets the exhibition requirements. If the team signed another of the defenders who crossed the matches played threshold – say Goligoski – then he would become the third protected player at the back against Lyubushkin anyway.
At net, it’s Arizona’s biggest decision of all. Kuemper or Hill? The former is a much more established name and a legitimate starting option, but the latter is six years younger and could still have a bright future. The face Hill signed for just $ 800,000 next season is likely appealing to the Coyotes and Kraken, but it would be too risky to leave Kuemper exposed with so few other intriguing options on the list. A trade here seems cautious, but any acquisition team would need space to protect one or the other, which is certainly not an easy thing to find at the moment.
Projected protection list
Skater Show Requirements Checklist
When the Golden Knights had their expansion draft, at least two forwards and one defenseman had to be exposed who were under contract and played either 40 games in the last season or 70 in the last two combined. Due to the pandemic, these thresholds have been changed to 27 games played in 2020-21 or 54 in 2019-2020 and 2020-21 combined. By creating our expansion list for each team in this series, we will ensure that these criteria are met.
Meeting those demands isn’t much of a problem, unless the team is desperate to protect Lyubushkin. It would require a new deal for someone else and then leave them exposed, which doesn’t seem likely at this point. That said, it actually poses a complication if the Coyotes ever wanted to trade a Kuemper or a Hill, as they would then need another goalie to meet the show requirements. Overall, it looks like the Coyotes might just take a shot at losing the one Seattle has their eye on and move on like they did a few years ago.
Contract information courtesy of CapFriendly.