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NHL expansion draft: Who would the Sharks protect?

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It's June 2017 and the Las Vegas Whogivesadamns and Quebec Nordiques are entering the league...

Robert Mayer-USA TODAY Sports

We still don't know if NHL expansion is happening (okay, just kidding, yes we do — it's inevitable) but we got some more information today on how an expansion draft would work if when it does happen. Enjoy the embedded tweets with their numerous caveats and confusing language.

Note that LeBrun's first tweet is inaccurate. First and second year PROS (including the AHL) are exempt, not just NHL players. So among Sharks players who will be under contract in June, 2017 and not in their first or second pro years, who should be protected? For the purpose of this post we'll assume the Sharks re-sign their RFAs and don't make any trades between now and then.

Right. Here's who I would protect.

Goalie

Martin Jones — that was easy.

Forwards

Joe Pavelski

Logan Couture

Tomas Hertl

Joonas Donskoi

Melker Karlsson

Matt Nieto

Defenders

Marc-Edouard Vlasic

Brenden Dillon

Justin Braun

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You'll notice I only chose to protect six forwards and three defenders. At first, I thought protecting four of each to get to eight skaters made the most sense, but it'd be silly to protect Paul Martin, who will be quite old by then. If someone wants to free the Sharks of that contract come 2017, godspeed.

The Sharks don't have many players under contract for the 2017-18 season, which is a good thing as the post-Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau era will be firmly upon us. If Thornton re-signs to become the west coast Jaromir Jagr (plausible) then I'd use the Sharks' final protection on him.

Then there's the Wookiee in the room, of course. Brent Burns is not under contract for the 2017-18 campaign and my guess is the Sharks won't be in a place where it makes sense to re-sign him for the kind of money he'll command. I could be wrong on that front, and if so the Sharks will certainly want to use a protection on him instead of one of the lesser defenders on the list.

What do you think? I got my salary information from General Fanager.