(March 20, 2016) – A verdict on the potential expansion of the National Hockey League is due ahead of the 2016 NHL Draft, according to NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. While there has been no 100% guaranteed-official format announced, the NHL has discussed a potential format for an Expansion Draft (fulldetails here): Teams will protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender OR eight total skaters and one goaltender with the choice belonging to the team. It is unknown what will happen with players who have a No Movement Clause (NMC) or a No Trade Clause (NTC) in their contract, but the same report states that any player in their first or second year of professional play will be exempt. It also looks like each team would lose one player if there is one expansion team, or two if both Las Vegas and Quebec City are awarded teams.

For this 30-part #TFTPB series, we will be taking a closer look at each current NHL team and what players might be available to a new franchise at the conclusion of the 2016-17 NHL season. For the sake of simplicity, players with a NMC/NTC will not be made automatically exempt. All contract and salary information for this series is courtesy of NHLNumbers.com.

Today, we’re taking a look at the Anaheim Ducks.

 

FORWARDS:

The Ducks have just six current NHL forwards still under contract in 2017-18, but with a lot of money tied up among them. Corey Perry ($8.625 million), Ryan Getzlaf ($8.250 million), Ryan Kesler ($6.875 million), Jakob Silfverberg ($3.750 million), Andrew Cogliano ($3.000 million) and Nick Ritchie ($0.833 million). Ritchie will be in the third year of his entry-level contract, so he does not qualify to be automatically exempt. Both Perry and Getzlaf will be 32 years old on Opening Day, 2017, while Kesler will be 33. Silfverberg will be turning 27 in October, 2017, and Cogliano will be 30.

Between now and then, both Brandon Pirri and Rickard Rakell will become Restricted Free Agents (both contracts end on July 1, 2016). Nate Thompson and Ryan Garbutt become Unrestricted Free Agents on July 1, 2017, while Shawn Horcoff, David Perron, Chris Stewart, Mike Santorelli and Jamie McGinn are UFAs on July 1, 2016.

As for other notable prospects, Nicolas Kerdiles will be an RFA, Chris Wagner is an RFA after this season, and Ondrej Kase would also be eligible for the expansion draft.

 

DEFENSEMEN:

Of their current NHL crop, Kevin Bieksa ($4.000 million), Cam Fowler ($4.000 million), Clayton Stoner ($3.250 million), Josh Manson ($0.825 million) and Simon Despres ($3.700 million) will be under contract by Opening Day, 2017. Both Hampus Lindhold and Sami Vatanen are RFAs and Korbinian Holzer is a UFA on July 1, 2016. Bieksa is the oldest of the group, and will be 36 years old on Opening Day, 2017, while Clayton Stoner will be 32 years old. All of the other aforementioned defensemen will be under 30 years old.

Some of the Ducks’ most-notable prospects are blueliners. Shea Theodore and Brandon Montour will both be eligible for the expansion draft because of their time of service, as would Martin Gernat.

 

GOALTENDERS:

Anaheim is one of the more-interesting teams for goalies. Frederik Andersen will be a Restricted Free Agent after this season, while John Gibson’s contract extension and $2.300 million cap hit kicks in on July 1, 2016. Anton Khudobin (UFA) and Dustin Tokarski (RFA) are both free agents at the end of this season. However, given Anaheim’s depth of talent elsewhere (and the goalies that will likely be available from other teams), I don’t know that Anaheim will lose a goalie.

 

THOUGHTS:

Assuming that the Ducks re-sign all of their RFAs this offseason, you would have to think that players like Rakell will be protected. Given their blueline depth, Anaheim may be a team to take advantage of the 8/1 option. Perry and Getzlaf would seem like locks to protect, as would defensemen Fowler, Stoner and at least one of Theodore and Montour. Nick Ritchie would also be a likely lock. That would leave one spot open for the likes of Kesler, the other of Theodore/Montour and Silfverberg.

Bieksa’s age might make him a prime player to dangle out to an expansion team to try and protect their crop of young talent, and I would think that, if re-signed, a player like Brandon Pirri would either be protected or exposed based on his performance next season. Kesler could also be an interesting option, as his high cap hit ($6.875 million) could be taken off the books an offseason before the Ducks will have to re-sign Cogliano, Ritchie, Bieksa, Fowler, Stoner, Theodore and Montour.

Going the 7/3/1 route would prohibit the Ducks from protecting both Theodore and Montour (assuming they keep both Fowler and Stoner), but would allow them to better protect their forwards. Doing this would mean they could protect Perry, Getzlaf, Ritchie, Kesler, Silfverberg and Cogliano, along with an open spot for a player based on next year’s performance (like Pirri).



In the next edition of #TFTPB: NHL Expansion, we’ll be looking at the Arizona Coyotes.