Raleigh, NC - The Carolina Hurricanes named 11 players (7 forwards, 3 defencemen, and one goalie) on their 2021 expansion draft protection list. These 11 players are exempt from selection in the 2021 expansion draft which will take place on Wednesday at 8:00 Eastern (ESPN2 will broadcast the draft live).
Carolina's 11-man protected list is as follows (from NHL.com):
Sebastian Aho (F)
Jesper Fast (F)
Warren Foegele (F)
Jordan Staal (F)
Andrei Svechnikov (F)
Teuvo Teravainen (F)
Vincent Trocheck (F)
Brett Pesce (D)
Brady Skjei (D)
Jaccob Slavin (D)
Alex Nedeljkovic (G)
Morgan Geekie (F)
Steven Lorentz (F)
Jordan Martinook (F)
Max McCormick (F)
Brock McGinn (F)
Nino Niederreiter (F)
Cedric Paquette (F)
Sheldon Rempal (F)
Drew Shore (F)
Spencer Smallman (F)
Jake Bean (D)
Jake Gardiner (D)
Eric Gelinas (D)
Jani Hakanpaa (D)
Dougie Hamilton (D)
Maxime Lajoie (D)
Roland McKeown (D)
Joakim Ryan (D)
David Warsofsky (D)
Antoine Bibeau (G)
Jeremy Helvig (G)
Petr Mrazek (G)
James Reimer (G)
Dylan Wells (G)
In addition to the 11 players named, several other Carolina players are exempt from selection in the draft. Per the team website:
"The collection of Canes players exempt from the Expansion Draft is highlighted by Martin Necas, who played his second full NHL season in 2020-21, in addition to top prospects Seth Jarvis, Ryan Suzuki and more, plus all of the team's unsigned draft picks."
With that in mind, who is Seattle General Manager Ron Francis likely to select on Wednesday night?
Let's take a look at some of the most likely candidates:
This one comes as a bit of a surprise. The 28-year-old Swiss forward arrived as part of the Viktor Rask trade back in January 2019. Since then, Niederreiter has been solid, scoring 45 goals in 159 games played.
However, his post-season production hasn't been as great, with only 3 goals in 29 playoff games in Carolina.
With the emergence of Martin Necas, and prospects like Seth Jarvis and Ryan Suzuki waiting in the wings, it looks like Don Waddell is ready to move on from 'El Nino'.
There's also a salary cap component to leaving Nino exposed. If Seattle takes Niederreiter, Carolina will free up over $5m in cap space for next season. That's money that could be spent in any number of ways, but the most intriguing possibility is that it would be used to sweeten an offer for one Dougie Hamilton.
From Seattle's perspective, Niederreiter is a tempting target. There aren't too many proven, top-six forwards available in the expansion draft. Niederreiter's cap hit of $5m might be steep for some teams but seems reasonable for Seattle.
Chances Seattle takes him: 6/10
Going into today, I thought Seattle would select Jake Bean in the expansion draft--and they very well might still pick him.
But, by dangling Nino Niederreiter out there, Don Waddell has made Ron Francis think twice about selecting Jake Bean. Francis obviously knows Bean well from when he was sitting in the seat that Don Waddell now occupies.
Bean has developed into a solid NHL defenseman, but the question remains as to how good he will truly be at the NHL level. This past season, Bean essentially supplanted NHL-veteran Jake Gardiner as the team's 3rd LD and second-string powerplay quarterback.
Don Waddell has to feel good about his defensive core with Jaccob Slavin, Brady Skjei, and Brett Pesce all protected. However, if he can hold onto Jake Bean (and potentially Dougie Hamilton), it would be a genuine coup.
Chances Seattle takes him: 3/10
If you were Ron Francis, and you were unaware of contract status, you would select Dougie Hamilton in the expansion draft. He's clearly the best player that Carolina left unprotected.
However, Ron Francis is aware of Dougie Hamilton's contract status (it runs out in less than two weeks). He won't select Hamilton; that would be akin to throwing away his expansion pick.
Chances Seattle takes him: 0/10
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