This summer, rumors of potential NHL expansion are reaching a high point. As expansion appears to become a distinct possibility, as part of Insider's 2013-14 NHL preseason coverage, we're running a mock expansion draft. If the NHL were to expand instead of relocate for its next new team -- be it in Seattle, Quebec City or elsewhere -- by what rules would the expansion draft be bound, which players would be protected and which players (out of the unprotected) would the new teams select?
Over the next three days, we're running through the answers to all of those questions, with the help of Insiders Craig Custance and former assistant GM Frank Provenzano, starting with the protected lists. Wednesday, Provenzano breaks down the Western Conference -- which players teams would protect and the thought process behind those decisions.
On Tuesday, my colleague (and fellow expansion team GM) Craig Custance ran through his list of protected players for teams in the East. Likewise, I was tasked with coming up with a list of protected players for teams in the West, and what follows are those selections along with my analysis, including which decisions gave me particular trouble.
For those who want to refresh themselves on the rules of this expansion draft, there's a full rules breakdown found here, but here's a brief summary:
Teams that protect one goalie are allowed to keep five defensemen and nine forwards. Teams that protect two goalies can keep only three defensemen and seven forwards. In the two-goalie scenario, teams must expose a third goalie who played either six games last season or 20 in the previous two seasons. As you'll see below, that becomes an important distinction.
All players with a no-move clause active for the current season are automatically on a team's protected list.
Teams must expose one defenseman and two forwards who played either 23 games last season or a total of 55 games the previous two seasons.
The following players are exempt from the draft: All first- and second-year professionals and all unsigned draft choices. So if you notice a key, young player on a team not protected, chances are he's exempt.
We ran through this exercise using the current NHL rosters. If an expansion like this were coming down the pike, it's likely that teams would make some additions that would help to protect them from exposing key veterans.
Note: A full list of the unprotected players -- the pool from which we'll be drafting -- will be published along with Thursday's draft results, although I do mention a number of the prominent unprotected players in the notes below.
The protected lists: Western Conference
G: Jonas Hiller
Notes: Not many tough calls here. The core players were easily protectable, and the players satisfying the experience requirement will not have a significant negative impact if they are lost in the draft. Two notable players exempted are forward Peter Holland and netminder Viktor Fasth.