Players to Protect - the Blue Jackets and the SBN Mock NHL Expansion Draft

As the SBNation Mock NHL Expansion rolls on, we now know that we'll be seeing the return of the Winnipeg Jets and Quebec Nordiques. (Biased voting? What? No, never...)

The next step is for each team to designate a portion of their roster as "protected". For Columbus, this is something of a unique experience, since the last time the NHL expanded it was for, well, us!

After we received guidelines based on the rules for the 2000 NHL expansion, Mike, Andrew, Andy, and I sat down and figured out our list of players - take a look after the jump and let us know what you think, or if there are any changes you think need to be made! Our final list is due into the "league" by Thursday, 9/2.

Edit: Changes have been made! Our list will be finalized at 8:00pm on Wednesday, 9/1!

First off, the rules:

  • Teams can either protect 1 goalie, 5 defensemen, and 9 forwards OR 2 goalies, 3 defensemen and 7 forwards.
  • If using the 2 goalie system, at least one goalie left unprotected must have played in at least 10 games in the previous NHL season, or 25 games in the last 2 seasons combined. (They must have played in at least 31 minutes of each game for it to count.)
  • Each team must leave unprotected at least one defenseman who appeared in 40 games last season, or 70 games in the last two seasons combined.
  • Each team must leave unprotected at least 2 forwards who appeared in 40 games last season, or 70 games in the last two seasons combined.
  • Players who have played in 49 or fewer NHL games are automatically exempt from the draft and do not need to be protected.

I bolded that last point because it simplifies things quite a bit. No need to protect Filatov, John Moore, Matt Calvert, Ryan Johansen, David Savard, or Gustav Wesslau. Of course, given Columbus' relative youth in goal, it also means we HAVE to use the 1 goalie system - if we protected both Mason and Garon, we don't have a goaltender who meets the 10/25 game rule.

So, with that in mind, who did we select?

Goaltender: Steve Mason.

-Fairly obvious, really. Mason is our starter, and regardless of what you think of his chances to rebound to his Calder winning form, you can't let him get poached in the draft. If Garon is selected, it just means Wesslau's path to the NHL is accelerated.

Defense: Kris Russell, Fedor Tyutin, Mike Commodore, Jan Hejda, and Anton Stralman.

-Not surprisingly, this was one of the areas with some debate. Russell and Stralman were no-brainers, to protect our (weak) puck moving capabilities, but after that it's wide open. While it's doubtful an expansion team would have taken Commodore based on his contract, I felt that his skills (when healthy) and voice in the locker room made him worth making sure we kept. Hejda is simply too much of a bargain to allow to walk away right now, and Tyutin has more upside in his game than Methot or Klesla.

With Columbus' huge amount of prospect D, this could also open the doors for players like John Moore, David Savard, or Grant Clitsome.

Forwards: Rick Nash, R.J. Umberger, Antoine Vermette, Derick Brassard, Jakub Voracek, Sammy Pahlsson, Derek Dorsett, Kristian Huselius, and Chris Clark.

-With Nikita Filatov protected by the under 40 games rule, Columbus is actually in a position to protect all of their skill players, particularly Nash, Umberger, Vermette, and Voracek. Based on your feedback, we've protected Chris Clark over Jared Boll, so he'll be added to the pool of "unprotected" forwards. (Ethan Moreau, Derek MacKenzie, Mike Blunden, or Andrew Murray), Clark and Pahlsson are likely to anchor the third and fourth lines, which the team can populate with guys like Matt Calvert, Tomas Kana, or Matt Rust.

So, there you have it, Jacket Fans. Anyone stand out? Are we making a huge mistake by choosing other defensemen over Klesla or Methot? Is Andrew Murray more important than I suspect? Let us know in the comments!

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