(March 25, 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 Carolina Hurricanes.

 

FORWARDS:

This is a team with options. Other than Jeff Skinner ($5.725 million) and Elias Lindholm ($1.775 million), only Jordan Staal ($6.000 million) is currently under contract beyond 2016-17. Staal’s contract combined with the constant rumors surrounding him would seem to make him a candidate to be exposed to the Expansion Draft. Skinner and Lindholm would both be obvious selections to be protected.

Joining that duo would be Victor Rask ($0.863 million) and Joakim Nordstrom ($0.605 million), both of whom are Restricted Free Agents this summer. Andrej Nestrasil ($0.912 million) and Phillip Di Giuseppe ($0.925 million) are both RFAs after next season. Brock McGinn ($0.894 million) and Sergey Tolchinsky ($0.608 million) would seem to be competing for the seventh and final forward slot, with an edge towards McGinn That said, Tolchinsky could also bump Di Giuseppe from his spot. Or the Canes could surprise a lot of people and decide to hang on to Staal. And all of this could change if Carolina makes any big signings this offseason.

Like I said: the Hurricanes have options.

 

DEFENSEMEN:

The blue line would seem to be simpler for Carolina. Justin Faulk ($4.833 million) and Noah Hanifin ($1.775 million) are locks. The third on the list would seemingly go to another young defenseman, with Michal Jordan ($0.625 million), Jaccob Slavin ($0.925 million), Brett Pesce ($0.809 million) and Ryan Murphy ($1.313 million) competing for the final protected slot.

James Wisniewski ($5.500 million) and Ron Hainsey ($2.833 million) are both Unrestricted Free Agents after next season. Prized prospect Haydn Fleury ($1.744 million) is yet to start his pro service clock, so he’s automatically protected and won’t need one of the slots.

 

GOALTENDERS:

Eddie Lack ($1.150 million) won’t become a UFA until 2018-19, and would seem to be the goalie protected by the Canes. Cam Ward ($6.300 million) is a UFA on July 1, 2016. The team’s top goaltending prospect (according to HockeysFuture.com’s rankings), Alex Nedeljkovic, is still in the junior hockey ranks and is, therefore, automatically protected.

 

THOUGHTS:

The Expansion Draft would seemingly complete the Hurricanes’ hitting of the reset button. With all young players protected, the Canes would likely lose Jordan Staal and his massive contract (which will still have a whopping six years and $36 million remaining entering 2017-18) and complete the reboot. Staal will turn 29 just prior to the start of the 2017-18 NHL season and could be a player enticing to an expansion team. Still, one of the unprotected young players could be a bit more appealing if the new team(s) don’t want to tie up the money with Staal.

That said, this offseason could change that one way or another should Carolina bring in a player that could be a candidate for protection.

 

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