(April 9, 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 (full details 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 Ottawa Senators.

 

FORWARDS:

As far as the quick locks, Mark Stone ($3.500 million), Mike Hoffman ($2.000 million) and Mika Zibanejad ($2.625 million) are shoo-ins. Stone is signed through 2018, while Zibanejad becomes a Restricted Free Agent in 2017 and Hoffman is an RFA this summer. Jean-Gabriel Pageau ($0.900 million) is another young player likely to be locked up by Ottawa. Like Zibanejad, Pageau also becomes an RFA in 2017.

With four spots taken, three spots remain. Bobby Ryan ($7.250 million) is the highest-paid player on the Senators. However, Ryan also is among the top offensive producers on the team. Clarke MacArthur ($4.650 million) has had concussion problems this season, limiting him to just four games, and that could leave him exposed to the Expansion Draft. Zack Smith ($1.887 million) and Kyle Turris ($3.500 million) have each topped 30 points this season (Turris in just 57 games played). No other player on the Senators – aside from those listed above (and Erik Karlsson) – has even reached 27 with Ottawa this season.

Both Curtis Lazar ($1.254 million) and Alex Chiasson ($1.200 million) could make a case for protection with breakout seasons in 2016-17.

Top prospect Colin White is still in the college ranks and is exempt from being selected by an expansion team.

 

DEFENSEMEN:

It’s safe to mark Erik Karlsson ($6.500 million) down as a protected player. Cody Ceci ($1.369 million) is also a pretty safe bet for protection, as long as the Sens lock him up to a new contract this offseason (he becomes an RFA on July 1, 2016). The third and final spot becomes a little trickier.

Marc Methot ($4.900 million) and Dion Phaneuf ($7.000 million) are both signed long-term. Patrick Wiercioch ($2.000 million) and Fredrik Claesson ($0.600 million) are set to become RFAs this summer. Michael Kostka ($0.800 million) is a pending UFA. Mark Borowiecki ($1.100 million) and Chris Wideman ($0.600 million this season, $0.800 million starting next season) both become UFAs after 2017-18.

Thomas Chabot ($1.285 million) will not reach the time of service minimum and will be exempt from the Expansion Draft.

 

GOALTENDERS:

Both Craig Anderson ($4.200 million) and Andrew Hammond ($1.350 million) become UFAs in the summer of 2018. Anderson will be 37 by then, and 36 at the time of an Expansion Draft, so Hammond would have the big advantage between the two. Matt O’Connor ($1.775 million) made his pro debut this season, spending much of the year in the AHL. While he would be eligible to be selected by an expansion team, it’d be unlikely that the Sens would protect him (and unlikely that he’d be selected, given the range of talent that will be available in net elsewhere).

 

THOUGHTS:

Barring big seasons from Lazar and/or Chiasson, Ottawa will likely protect Stone, Hoffman, Zibanejad, Pageau, Ryan, Smith and Turris. MacArthur’s injury woes this season and inconsistent numbers outside of this season (MacArthur’s year-to-year point totals have fluctuated by at least 19 points every season since 2009-10) will leave him exposed. Lazar and Chiasson, as mentioned above, would have outside chances of being protected with big seasons next year.

On the blue line, look for the Senators to protect Karlsson, Ceci and Methot. Both Karlsson and Ceci are young, and Methot won’t be too old at the time of the Expansion Draft or at the end of his contract in 2019. Meanwhile, his cap hit is significantly lower than that of Phaneuf. Claesson is a possibility to take the third spot with a big 2016-17 campaign.

Ottawa’s two first round draft picks from 2015 (White and Chobat) will be exempt from the Expansion Draft, which also helps the Sens in keeping the players they want.

Craig Anderson is likely to be exposed in favor of protecting the significantly-younger Hammond. Anderson also has a cap hit over three times that of Hammond.

 

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