I know the Expansion Draft is confusing. I was still confused and I’ve been reading about it since the press release last June, so I reached out to CapFriendly. They let me know it’s the most common question they’ve received over the past few months, so I feel less dumb than when I started.
Where the Coyotes Stand
The Coyotes are in an interesting situation with the expansion draft, which we’ve talked about before in our roundtable. They have eight skaters who qualify to be exposed in the expansion draft, three forwards and five defensemen.
To make it a legal list of exposure, they MUST expose two forwards who meet the criteria of a contract that goes past the 2016-17 season, played 40 games during the 2016-17 season or 70 games between 2015-16 and 2016-17. But, players who entered the NHL in 2015-16 and younger are exempt, to keep the high-end prospects for some teams that are rebuilding (such as the Coyotes) safe.
The Exempt List
Craig Cunningham and Dave Bolland, who are both considered injured with Career Ending Injuries. We know that’s the fact with Cunningham, who is now a Pro Scout for the Coyotes.
Lawson Crouse, Clayton Keller, Nick Merkley
Max Domi, Brendan Perlini, Dylan Strome
Christian Dvorak, Christian Fischer, Ryan MacInnis
Jens Lööke, Laurent Dauphin, Michael Bunting
Lane Pederson, Conor Garland, Mario Kempe
Grayson Downing, Jakob Chychrun, Anthony DeAngelo
Cam Dineen, Kyle Capobianco, Kyle Wood
Jalen Smereck, Dysin Mayo, Dakota Mermis
Hunter Miska, Adin Hill, Marek Langhamer
Legally Exposable: The Forwards
This is where the Coyotes situation gets a little funky.
As I mentioned before, they only have three players who legally qualify to be exposed in the expansion draft, so the Coyotes have to expose two of those green check mark players. Logically, they would protect Tobias Rieder and expose Jamie McGinn and Brad Richardson as their two MUST expose, but the Coyotes can still protect RFA/UFA skaters who are not signed.
If the Coyotes choose to protect seven forwards, I project them to be:
Tobias Rieder, Alexander Burmistrov, Jordan Martinook, Radim Vrbata, Anthony Duclair, Shane Doan and Peter Holland.
If the Coyotes choose to go the four forwards and four defensemen route (which is the better option for them):
Tobias Rieder, Jordan Martinook, Alex Burmistrov, and Anthony Duclair.
Why not the guys with GR numbers? They do not qualify to be exposed in the Expansion Draft and therefore cannot be exposed, even if we really really want one of them to be. You cannot fake the number of games played.
While the Coyotes are required to expose two forwards, one defenseman and a goalie who meet the requirements, the Golden Knights can still select a player that is not exempt or protected.
Legally Exposable: The Defense
This topic is a little easier. They have enough defensemen to legally protect and expose in the Expansion Draft.
If the Coyotes protect three defensemen, I project them to be:
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Goligoski (who has a No-Move clause), and Connor Murphy.
That allows them to expose two defensemen who are legally eligible for the expansion draft.
If the Coyotes go the four defensemen route, I project them to be:
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Goligoski, Connor Murphy, and Luke Schenn.
This leaves Kevin Connauton to be exposed in the expansion draft, making it nice and legal.
Let’s say the Golden Knights don’t like any of the exposed players who have contracts. They can contact any RFA/UFA in a set time period (June 18 - June 20th) and negotiate a contract with them. So if the Coyotes do not protect someone like Anthony Duclair, the Golden Knights would be able to call Duclair and his agent and offer them a deal. If they agree, that counts as Vegas’ Coyotes pick in the expansion draft and Duclair would officially be a Golden Knight next season.
This is a way that some teams will be able to manage their assets if they are like the Coyotes and have a low number of contracts that they can legally expose.
What Will The Coyotes Do?
We just won’t know until John Chayka finishes up his moves before 5pm EST on June 17th, when the protected/unprotected lists are due.
There could be trades, there could be some odd extensions in the Coyotes future, but knowing what we know now about the expansion draft, we shouldn’t be worried about the team losing a key piece to the Golden Knights.
Personally, I think Vegas will take Jamie McGinn or Kevin Connauton, but what do you think?