When the authors here put together Edmonton's protected list, our biggest topic of debate was whether we should protect Shawn Horcoff or Ryan Jones. In the end we all settled on exposing Horcoff, mostly because we were certain that Winnipeg General Manager Gabriel Desjardins would select Jones, but that it was unlikely that anyone would take Horcoff.
We were wrong. Even though we were given a heads-up in the comments of our original expansion list, we were all still a bit surprised when we saw this:
Desjardins took Horcoff, presumably to anchor his first line and play the tough minutes for the expansion Jets.
The entire list of available players can be found here, and the most striking thing about the list are the numerous large contracts available. Most of our mock General Managers tried to take advantage of the opportunity to dump large, long-term commitments on Desjardins and James Mirtle. Some of them were successful; in addition to Horcoff, the two of them took on a number of other large contracts in an effort to make the salary floor:
In addition to Horcoff, Winnipeg also picked up Vernon Fiddler, Scott Nichol, Jerred Smithson, and David Steckel, making them the odds-on favorite to lead the league in faceoff percentage. Winnipeg obviously values a defense-first approach nabbing B.J. Crombeen and Rob Niedermayer in addition to Rolston and the five centers. At first glance, the new Jets are already better than Edmonton, with superior goal-tending and better tough-minutes players as well as a better defensive crew.
The Edmonton Oilers have (mock) lost their only tough minutes center, their best penalty killer and their best faceoff man. Now what do they do? They were already short on real NHL forwards, guys who could take the load so that the plethora of young forwards on the roster could take on easier minutes, Horcoff's (mock) departure puts Tom Renney in an even more difficult position.