LA Kings: What would protecting eight skaters in expansion draft look like?

In the Seattle Kraken’s expansion draft, which LA Kings might be protected under the eight skaters and one goalie scenario?

When the Vegas Golden Knights were officially founded as an expansion team in 2017, the LA Kings opted to protect eight skaters and a goalie. If you recall, Los Angeles protected Jeff Carter, Tanner Pearson, Anze Kopitar, Tyler Toffoli, Drew Doughty, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin, Derek Forbort, and Jonathan Quick.

With Seattle entering the league as the 32nd team, the Kings face the same difficult decisions. Will they protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie, or opt for the 2017 method of eight skaters and a goalie again?

Seattle will be making their selections on July 21, with all teams required to submit their protected lists by 5 pm ET on July 17.

A quick refresher of the rules, per NHL.com

Current NHL teams can protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goalie, under the following conditions.

  • All players with no movement clauses at the time of the draft, and who decline to waive those clauses, must be protected and will be counted toward their team’s applicable protection limits.
  • All first- and second-year professionals, and all unsigned draft choices, will be exempt from selection (and will not be counted toward protection limits.

In addition, all NHL teams must meet the following minimum requirements regarding players exposed for selection in the draft:

  • One defenseman who is a) under contract in 2021-22 and b) played in at least 40 NHL games the prior season or played in at least 70 NHL games in the prior two seasons.

  • Two forwards who are a) under contract in 2021-22 and b) played at least 40 NHL games the prior season or played in at least 70 NHL games in the prior two seasons.

  • One goalie who is under contract in 2021-22 or will be a restricted free agent at the end of his current contract immediately prior to 2021-22. If a team elects to make a restricted free agent goalie available to meet this requirement, that goalie must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the team’s protected list.

  • Players with potential career-ending injuries who have missed more than the previous 60 consecutive games (or who otherwise have been confirmed to have a career-threatening injury) may not be used to satisfy a team’s player exposure requirements unless approval is received from the NHL. Such players also may be deemed exempt from selection.

In this particular scenario, we break down the second option of protecting eight skaters. Information derived from CapFriendly.

Exempt List:

Arthur Kaliyev, Tyler Madden, Alex Turcotte, Quinton Byfield, Gabe Vilardi, Rasmus Kupari, Akil Thomas, Samuel Fagemo, Johan Sodergran, Aidan Dudas, Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Vladimir Tkachev, Cole Hults, Mikey Anderson, Tobias Bjornfot, Jordan Spence, Sean Durzi, Markus Phillips, Helge Grans, Jacob Ingham, Matt Villalta

Protected Forwards (4)

Anze Kopitar, Alex Iafallo, Adrian Kempe, Trevor Moore

The four forwards were fairly easy to identify. The Kings aren’t letting Kopitar out of their sight. They just signed Iafallo to a four-year contract extension. Kempe had his best season prorated over an 82-game schedule, as did Trevor Moore.

Protected Defensemen (4)

Drew Doughty, Matt Roy, Sean Walker, Kale Clague

The only real advantage to protecting four defensemen is keeping Clague hidden from Seattle. Doughty, Roy, and Walker are all fairly obvious choices, with Doughty protected per the rules. However, the Kings might kick themselves if Seattle chooses Clague, a former second-round pick with plenty of offensive upside from the blue line.

Protected Goalie (1)

Cal Petersen

Petersen is the long-term goalie and just wrapped up an incredible display at the World Championships in Riga, Latvia.

Unprotected List

Dustin Brown, Brendan Lemieux, Andreas Athanasiou, Austin Wagner, Blake Lizotte, Lias Andersson, Boko Imama, Drake Rymsha, Carl Grundstrom, Martin Frk, Matt Luff, Mikey Eyssimont, Olli Maatta, Christian Wolanin, Kurtis MacDermid, Austin Strand, Jacob Moverare, Daniel Brickley, Mark Alt, Jonathan Quick, Troy Grosenick

*Several players on the unprotected list are heading for free agency, so their status with the team, obviously, remains uncertain. We did our best to predict which ones return next year.

Brown was left unprotected for the Vegas expansion draft and remained with the club. He’s 36, turning 37 in November, and has one year left on his deal. I feel confident saying that Seattle likely wouldn’t choose Brown when younger players with more team control are available to choose from.

The Kings would probably like to protect Blake Lizotte, Lias Andersson, and Carl Grundstrom, which is where protecting seven forwards becomes a huge benefactor.

To close, the only real advantage in protecting eight skaters is the Kings would be able to keep Clague. However, they’re exposing several promising forwards; some they gave up high draft picks and assets to acquire.