(March 22, 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 Boston Bruins.

 

FORWARDS:

The Bruins have a lot of money tied up with just a handful of players. David Krejci ($7.250 million), Patrice Bergeron ($6.875 million) and Matt Beleskey ($3.800 million) each have at least four years left on their deals after this season. Meanwhile, Jimmy Hayes ($2.300 million) is signed through 2017-18 and Brad Marchand ($4.500) is an Unrestricted Free Agent after next season. Loui Eriksson ($4.250 million) is set to become a UFA on July 1, 2016, and whether or not Boston re-signs him could set the stage for how the B’s decide who to protect and who to expose to the Expansion Draft. Chris Kelly ($3.000 million) also becomes a UFA at season’s end, though the 35-year-old is an unlikely candidate for protection should he be brought back. Zac Rinaldo ($0.850 million) becomes a UFA on July 1, 2017.

Brett Connolly, Tyler Randell and Landon Ferraro all become Restricted Free Agents on July 1, 2016, while Ryan Spooner, David Pastrnak and Noel Acciari become RFAs on July 1, 2017.

As for non-NHL’ers who will be eligible and may warrant a look, Alexander Khokhlachev and Seth Griffith are both RFAs at the end of this season.

 

DEFENSEMEN:

The blue line is an interesting spot for Boston. Zdeno Chara ($6.917 million) will be entering the final year of his contract on Opening Day, 2017, and will be 40 years old. Dennis Seidenberg ($4.000 million) will also be entering his final year in 2017-18 and will be 36 years old. Only Adam McQuaid ($2.750 million) is under contract beyond that, and the 29-year-old is signed through 2018-19 (he turns 32 in October, 2018).

Meanwhile, Torey Krug ($3.400 million), Joe Morrow ($0.863 million) and Zach Trotman ($0.625 million) are RFAs on July 1, 2016, and John-Michael Liles ($0.854 million cap hit for Boston, $3.875 million total cap hit) and Kevan Miller ($0.800 million) are UFAs that same day.

Colin Miller ($0.620 million) is an RFA at the end of this season, and is likely the only non-NHL-roster defenseman that might get a look.

 

GOALTENDERS:

Tuukka Rask ($7.000 million) is the obvious candidate to be protected here, though that exposes the young Malcolm Subban ($0.833 million) to the Expansion Draft. Subban will be an RFA after next season and will turn 24 at the end of 2017. Rask will still be just 30 years old in 2017.

 

THOUGHTS:

Should Boston decide that it cannot afford to lose Zdeno Chara, the Bruins would seemingly have to go the 8/1 route. More likely than that, however, is that Big Z will find himself closing out his career manning the blueline for an expansion team, as the Bruins will have to protect younger defensemen Adam McQuaid, Torey Krug and Joe Morrow. This would also mean that Dennis Seidenberg could be left unprotected as well.

However, the Bruins losing a defenseman is hardly a lock if there is only one expansion team granted. Malcolm Subban could make for a nice goalie to build around (depending on his progression in the next year), though he’d be without a contract just a few days or weeks after the Expansion Draft. As a Restricted Free Agent, though, this could still be appealing.

For forwards, guys like Krejci, Bergeron, Spooner and Pastrnak are locks. Marchand becomes a lock if he’s re-signed ahead of the Expansion Draft, and Loui Eriksson would likely join that list if the Bruins bring him back this offseason. That would leave open one forward spot for a prospect like Khokhlachev or Griffith. If Eriksson departs and Marchand is left unsigned, then the Bruins could look at keeping 8/1 – Krejci, Bergeron, Spooner, Pastrnak, McQuaid, Krug, Morrow and Seidenberg – but that’s a big IF. This might become more likely if there are two expansion teams, as it would then be likely to have Chara and Subban as the players taken.

 

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