With the emergence of Las Vegas as the NHL’s 31st club, the first expansion draft in nearly two decades will take place later this month. The Vegas Golden Knights will lay claim to an Oiler within that time. Las Vegas must select a total of 14 forwards, 9 defencemen and three goalies.
Note: Players on their entry level contracts in 2017-18 are exempt. While all of us believe protecting Connor McDavid would be of high interest, it’s not necessary due to this convenient clause.
The Oilers will likely protect seven forwards, three defencemen, and one goalie. After a grueling seven hour consultation, these are the players that our staff would protect. There was some variance between some of the players. Those who received the most votes appear here.
The Oilers and Milan Lucic are connected at the hip for the next six years by virtue of Lucic’s no-movement clause. This means that the Oilers have to protect him in the expansion draft. All kidding aside, it’s a 100% certainty he’d be protected one year after signing his deal. Milan Lucic’s debut season saw him finish with 50 points in 82 games, good for fourth on the team.
An absolute no-brainer. Draisaitl finished second on the team with 77 points (29-48-77) and the 21 year old German is due for a hefty raise in 2017-18.
“Offers are on the table” for Jordan Eberle according to some reputable voices at TSN. Whether or not Eberle is moved this offseason remains to be seen, but the 26 year old winger still finished third in scoring for the Oilers with 51 points in 82 games. Eberle’s season was below average compared to his previous full season play, and there’s good reason to believe that he’ll regress to his 60-65 point self in 2017-18. For now, he’s definitely one to protect.
Like the first three on this list, this one is another no-brainer. The 2011 first overall pick finished fifth on the team in scoring with 43 points (18-25-43).
Perhaps no one benefitted more from playing with Connor McDavid than Patrick Maroon. Maroon finished with just one less point than Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, scoring 27 goals in the process (27-15-42). Maroon’s deal is that much sweeter knowing that Anaheim is still on the hook for 30% of it.
The first five players were unanimous. The next two, not so much.
There was a fair bit of variance between the last two forwards picked, but Khaira was picked more than not. Khaira split time between Bakersfield and Edmonton in 2016-17, but his season was limited to a combined 37 games between the the NHL and the AHL due to an upper body injury.
Zack Kassian and Benoit Pouliot also received votes for the seventh hole, but Letestu received more votes to be protected. Letestu emerged as the shooter on Edmonton’s power play, and he finished with 35 points in 76 games.
With only three selections, these choices were unanimous.
Any doubt about Sekera’s first season as an Oiler were wiped away after season two. Sekera averaged twenty one and a half minutes a night against the opposition’s toughest. The Oilers will need to figure out a suitable replacement while he recovers from a torn ACL. He’s got a NMC which will prevent him from being selected.
The riches of a very polarizing trade will definitely be protected for the expansion draft. Larsson is under contract and averaged fourth on the team in ice time (20:09). A top four right handed defenceman, he’ll definitely be on the protected list.
The other obvious choice. Klefbom led the team in time on ice with nearly 22 and a half minutes per night. At just 23 years of age, he should be a pillar on the Oilers for years to come.
Talbot had a very, very good season this year. That’s good, because he’s got a NMC for the two remaining years of his deal, so the Oilers are joined at the hip with him.
While the Oilers are likely to go in a different direction with regards to the forwards on this list, the club will 100% lose a player under contract unless Las Vegas gets creative and signs a UFA player (or non-protected RFA) during the window that opens up in a couple of weeks.
Everybody screaming Pouliot’s name, I can hear you from way out here.