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If the NHL expands who would the Winnipeg Jets protect?

Taking a look at who the Jets might protect if the league expands.

Jets practice late December

Since the NHL hasn’t confirmed whether they will even be expanding this is all very hypothetical but as it was just discussed at the GM meetings in Boca Raton, Florida this week it is somewhat topical.  Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly indicated that the league will be making their decision on whether to add one or two teams (or none at all) prior to the draft in Buffalo at the end of June.

From Mike Zeisberger of Postmedia (National Post) we get the parameters for teams dealing with expansion:

a) If the league expands by just one team, existing franchises can only lose a maximum of one player.

b) Should the decision be made to add two teams, the 30 current squads could lose no more than two players from its roster.

c) First and second-year pros are automatically exempt.

Under the league’s plan, teams will have the choice of how many players they want to shield from being exposed in the draft.

In Option 1, a team can protect a total of 11 players — seven forwards, three defencemen and one goalie.

In Option 2, a team can protect nine players — eight skaters and one goalie.

Assuming the NHL expands for the 2017-18 season the expectation is the expansion draft would take place in the summer of 2017.  We do know that first and second year pros will be exempt but we don’t know exactly who will be on that list for Winnipeg.

Another factor to consider is players with NMC (no movement clauses) and if that would impact their exposure.  Conventional wisdom says they would still need to be protected but a decision with respect to this hasn’t yet been made by the NHL.

Taking into consideration all of the above, and using today’s Jets roster, let us try to determine how GM Kevin Cheveldayoff may decide to protect his squad based on the two options listed above.

Option 1 (11 players — seven forwards, three defencemen and one goalie):

Forwards:  Wheeler, Little, Scheifele (RFA-16), Lowry (RFA-16), Burmistrov (RFA -17), Armia (RFA-16), Perreault (UFA 17)
Defence:  Byfuglien, Trouba (RFA-16), Myers or Enstrom
Goalie:  Hellebuyck (RFA -17)

Unprotected players:  Dano (RFA -17), Stafford (UFA – 17),

Option 2 (9 players — eight skaters and one goalie):

Skaters:  Wheeler, Scheifele, Little, Burmistrov (RFA -17), Byfuglien, Enstrom, Myers and Trouba.
Goalie:  Hellebuyck

Unprotected players: Dano (RFA -17), Armia (RFA-16), Perreault (UFA 17), Stafford (UFA – 17).

The one caveat that should be made is it is difficult to predict who will be playing on the Jets in 2017-18 as the only guys currently on the team with contracts at that time are Wheeler, Little, Ehlers, Enstrom, Myers, Byfuglien, Stuart.

Those are just my thoughts as to who the Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff and the rest of the team brass would consider keeping on their protected list.  Who would you add or remove from these lists?

Contract info courtesy of General Fanager.

Note:  I’ve updated the post to remove players like Comrie, Morrissey, De Leo, Petan, Ehlers as I mistakenly counted them as third year pros but since the draft would take place before July 1st they would still be counted within the two year time frame.