Much like the universe, the NHL is expanding. The inevitable addition of new teams inched closer to reality this week with a report that as many as four (!) new franchises could be granted by 2017. The league, of course, has denied this, and there will be challenges, but that does not mean expansion is not impending.
The thought of new teams in the NHL is both exciting and concerning. There are so many new possibilities for locations, team names, divisions, schedules, etc. But, there are also plenty of potential problems. Can the league support more teams? Will there be enough quality players? What are the back-up plans if other teams fail in their current markets? However, the intrigue seems to overshadow the doubts.
With that in mind, an expansion draft appears to be on the horizon, the NHL's 12th and first since 2000. Each team will be forced to protect some players, while leaving others exposed.
Who should the Arizona Coyotes protect?
While the NHL may ultimately change the expansion draft rules, the old rules will be used for this exercise. Each team can protect either: one goalie, five defensemen and nine forwards or two goalies, three defensemen and seven forwards (the Coyotes should choose the former). Each team must leave at least one defenseman and two forwards unprotected that played in at least 40 games last season or 70 games the previous two seasons. First and second year pros are exempt from the draft.
Key exemption: Connor Murphy
Key exemptions: Max Domi, Henrik Samuelsson, Brendan Perlini, Tyler Gaudet
Key Unprotected Players
The Coyotes would not lose too much sleep if a couple of their unprotected players left via the expansion draft. Although they would find themselves down a pair of NHL players, there is no star player that would be low-hanging fruit for a new team to scoop up.
Do you agree with the list? Post your protected players in the comment section below!