I took the Chicago Blackhawks here because I thought that may be a very interesting piece of rosterbation, especially given how it seems that every few years now they have to blow up the team in order to keep their main core together and yet still manage to make it back into strong playoff contention (and as potential Stanley Cup favorites) fairly quickly after the fact. And it certainly looks like one of these blow up years is coming soon.
Of course, I did not take into consideration that Stan Bowman essentially hamstrung my decisions based on contracts he has given out in the last few years as well the moves he is rumored to be making in the lead up to the Expansion Draft.
Let's take a quick look at the Expansion Draft Requirements.
As per NHL.com, every team needs to expose:
i) One defenseman who is a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.
ii) Two forwards who are a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.
iii) One goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18. If the club elects to make a restricted free agent goaltender available in order to meet this requirement, that goaltender must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the club's protected list.
The protected list can be made of either 7 Forwards, 3 Defensemen and 1 Goalie or 8 Skaters and 1 Goalie. The caveat being that any player with a No Movement Clause must be protected. This is where I begin to get hamstrung. There are a lot of players on the Blackhawks with No Movement Clauses. Because of this, the list of players that meet the Exposure Requirements narrows quite quickly.
Forced Protections - Forwards:
Now, obviously Kane and Toews would be on the protected list even if the didn't have to be on the list, as they are two top players in the league. A strong case could be made for Hossa and Anisimov too, but if I weren't required to keep Anisimov I may have exposed him. But that's not how this works.
Forced Protections - Defensemen:
Even if I were not forced to keep these three, I probably would protect them all from the Expansion Draft, regardless of whether or not any of these players might be traded away at some point this offseason of next (although with NMCs, that becomes more difficult).
Forced Protections - Goalie:
In a world where Crawford does not have a NMC and Bowman had not already traded Darling to Carolina, there might be decent enough reasoning to protect Darling instead, but here we are.
That leaves us with very few players that meet the exposure requirements:
Trevor Van Riemsdyk
This does not give me many options. In fact, it essentially forces me into the 8 Skaters, 1 Goalie iteration of the Protection List since if I were to choose 3 more forwards then only 1 forward would be exposed and that would violate the rules.
I would probably at this point choose Trevor Van Riemsdyk to protect since he has a pretty low cap hit, is a Top-4 D-Man and is young at 25.
However, since the Blackhawks are starting to run into Cap trouble (again), there are rumors swirling around that Bowman is speaking with Golden Knights GM George McPhee about a pre-draft trade. It seems Bowman is resigned to losing Van Riemsdyk either in the Expansion Draft or via some sort of trade. So, in an effort to take some Cap Hit off their books, Bowman is trying to trade Van Riemsdyk to Vegas for Draft Pick(s) if they also take Marcus Kruger. This would be legal and would count as Vegas' pick from the Blackhawks, so Chicago wouldn't lose anyone else.
Knowing this (and assuming it, or something similar happens) I feel a bit handcuffed in who I can protect. As such, I am forced to settle on protecting Michal Rozsival.
That makes my final protection list look like this:
This is not necessarily my ideal list, but it is what I end up stuck with due to Bowman giving everyone and their mothers' No Movement Clauses.
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