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Who will Boston protect and expose in the Expansion Draft?

We got a new team under the waves. Let’s think about who to protect and who to expose.

New NHL Franchise Seattle Kraken Open Team Store Photo by Jim Bennett/Getty Images

Seattle is now the proud owner of a front to get the Sonics back an NHL franchise, didja hear?

And now, in little over a month, we will watch the Bruins pony up a player to the Light Blue, Blue, Darker Blue, Blue dabba dee dabbu die, and little bit of Red because Jerry Bruckheimer (and company) ponied up some ludicrous sum of money for the NHL. So let’s get right into discussion of the upcoming NHL Expansion draft, set to go on the 21st of July.

The rules of expansion, in case you forgot them

Seattle gets to pick one player from each team’s roster (except Vegas), and the teams are allowed to protect a number of players based on slightly different setups:

  • 7 forwards, 3 defensemen, and a goalie
  • 8 skaters (Forward and D-men) and a goalie

Players with NMCs need those NMCs honored unless they waive them, players with really, really bad injuries can’t be used, and you must have a minimum of two forwards and one defender who’s played at least 40 games last season or at least 70 over the past two, and a goaltender under contract in 2021-22 or will be an RFA by the end of 2021-22.

Simple stuff, right? Now, let’s try to protect some players.

The 7-3-1 method is most likely, if only because of contracts.

I think the Bruins will opt for the 7-3-1 method simply because of the value at play here, but especially on defense. At all costs, you have to protect McAvoy and Gryz, because they are the most talented players on your defense and losing either of them would suck. The seven forwards are almost no-brainers with mostly personal preference involved and also due to some contract structure almost forcing it.

They could opt for the 8-1 method, but I sincerely doubt it.

The Obvious Choices

Part of what makes some of this easy is that there are some NMCs on Boston’s forward group, and this time in places you can actually feel reasonably okay about it!

The rest are just...well...common sense.


  • Marchand - NMC
  • Bergeron - NMC
  • Pastrnak - Was your playoff points leader + marquis name. Kinda want to hang onto that.
  • Coyle - NMC
  • Hall - He just got here and he adores it and is also very, very good.


  • McAvoy - #1 defenseman. You wanna keep that.
  • Grzelcyk - #2 defenseman, even if you don’t like him.


  • Tuukka Rask - If the last like four days (and almost a decade) of Bruins players going “we love this guy!” and Rask going “I love this city!” didn’t weren’t enough of a hint, Rask is probably going to be protected.

Swayman and Keyser are exempt from this (thank god), and Halak’s position on this team is up in the air. Losing Vladar would stink, but I think Kyle Keyser could handle the reigns of being the #1 in Providence.

...And that, unfortunately, means now we have to start filling out that list, and that gets hard when you don’t know where a couple of players stand. So we have to make some interesting decisions here. Namely based around David Krejci and Tuukka Rask’s possible retirement.

7-3-1 Big brain scenarios:

David Krejci and Tuukka Rask do not retire

Probably the most likely scenario. in which case the setup looks like this:

Final Forwards protected

  • Craig Smith
  • David Krejci

Final Defensemen Protected

  • Brandon Carlo - With all due respect to guys like Kevan Miller, Carlo’s younger and we got a good hard look at what life without him looked like. It wasn’t pretty. There is almost no permutation of this where Carlo is not the third defenseman.

Tuukka Rask doesn’t retire, but Krejci does

You spend every waking second convincing Gabriel Landeskog that Boston is just like home. He’s played center before, and he can do it here, dammit.

...oh wait, the expansion draft? Oh right.

Final Forwards protected

  • Craig Smith
  • Jake DeBrusk - I know he played poorly, but the alternatives? Probably not going to be a better choice on the B’s roster than Jake. Further, he’s an RFA, so you can absolutely negotiate his price down if his play continues to be bad.

Krejci doesn’t retire, but Tuukka does

If you can at the very least guarantee David will attempt to get signed by training camp of next season, then by all means, you should protect him. As for the goalie, this is not hard. Swayman’s not in danger, Keyser’s not in danger, it’s between Vladdy, Halak, and Callum Booth.

Goaltender Protected

Dan Vladar - He is the youngest by a year and enormous. Keep him, let him do well in Providence.

Both players retire

The least likely scenario, but definitely possible! It means also that little actually changes, unfortunately.

Final Forwards protected

  • Craig Smith
  • Jake DeBrusk

Goaltender Protected

Dan Vladar

And who would that expose?

Forwards exposed:

  • Nick Ritchie
  • Ondrej Kase
  • Chris Wagner
  • Sean Kuraly
  • Curtis Lazar
  • Trent Frederic
  • Karson Kuhlman
  • Cameron Hughes
  • Joona Koppanen
  • Zach Senyshsyn
  • Anton Blidh
  • Paul Carey
  • Gregg McKegg
  • Peter Cehlarik
  • Jakob Forsbacka-Karlsson

Defensemen Exposed:

  • John Moore
  • Mike Reilly
  • Kevan Miller
  • Connor Clifton
  • Jeremy Lauzon
  • Steven Kampfer
  • Jakub Zboril
  • Jarred Tinordi

Goaltenders Exposed:

  • Jaro Halak
  • Dan Vladar
  • Callum Booth

Who is the most likely player to make their way to Seattle?:

Looking at this list and knowing who they’ve hired in their scouting and analytics department?

They’re probably not going to be thrilled with Boston’s...let’s call it challenged...prospect pool, and all the really meaty choices at forward will be protected thanks to NMCs and hopefully common sense, so...’s gonna be Mike Reilly.

Yeah, I think they’re gonna want this dude.

As a pending free agent, Seattle will be able to negotiate with Reilly before any other team.

Given his underlying numbers, the fact that he’s an analytics darling, and the fact that he performed fairly well with the Bruins, you can certainly see why Reilly would be enticing to the Kraken.

Of course, it’d be contingent on Reilly wanting to sign with Seattle; however, if they offer him a solid, long-term deal for a sizable raise, it’s hard to see why he wouldn’t take it.

If Reilly signs with Seattle during that exclusive negotiating window, the Kraken don’t get to select anyone else from the Bruins.

I enjoyed your time here, Reilly...but now it is time to enjoy the pacific northwest. I hear #6 is still open as a number out there in Seattle.

If, however, Reilly doesn’t want to sign with Seattle, we’d be back at square one with a current roster player getting taken.

In that case, a younger guy like Lauzon, Clifton, or Frederic might make the most sense for the Kraken.