The 25 Biggest Names Left Exposed In 2021 NHL Expansion Draft

Photo: SN

After teams’ protection lists for the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft were released on Sunday morning, there were several surprises and plenty of big names available for the Seattle Kraken to pick from by Wednesday at 10 AM ET. The Kraken can pick one player from each team and they will have plenty of good options to choose from. NoVa Caps examines the 25 most notable players across the NHL who were exposed to the Kraken. This is not a prediction of who the Kracken will actually take.

LHD Mark Giordano, Calgary Flames — The Flames decided to expose their 37-year-old captain despite the fact that he still has some game left after recording nine goals, 26 points, a +5 rating, a 52.63% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 52.63% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 52.68% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 56 games in 2020-21. Giordano, who has one season left with a $6.75 million cap hit, is exposed because the Flames had to protect Rasmus Andersson, Chris Tanev, and Noah Hanifin in addition to a handful of forwards.

RW Nino Niederreiter, Carolina Hurricanes — The 28-year-old was expected to be protected after scoring 20 goals in 56 games this past regular season but the Hurricanes opted to protect right-wing Jesper Fast instead. Niederreiter has scored at least 20 goals five times in his career and is still in his prime. He carries a $5.25 million cap hit through 2021-22.

LW J.T. Compher, Colorado Avalanche — The Avalanche did not have enough room to protect the 26-year-old, who recorded 10 goals and 18 points in 48 games last season. Compher, who has two seasons left on his contract which carries a $3.5 million cap hit, has recorded at least 10 goals in each of his first four NHL seasons and consecutive seasons with at least 30 points from 2018-20.

C Max Domi, Columbus Blue Jackets — It is not a surprise that the 26-year-old is available after posting nine goals, 24 points, and a -18 rating in 54 games during his first season in Columbus, but he had two admirable seasons with the Montreal Canadiens, including a 28-goal, 72-point season in 2018-19, before getting traded to the Blue Jackets. He could very well be one of the Kraken’s top-six centers. Domi has one season left on a contract that pays him $5.3 million per year.

G Ben Bishop, Dallas Stars — Before missing the entire 2020-21 season due to knee surgery he underwent in October 2020, the 34-year-old had a couple of fantastic seasons as he went 27-15-2 with a .934 save percentage, a 1.98 goals-against average, and seven shutouts in 2018-19 and 21-16-4 with a .920 save percentage, a 2.50 goals-against average, and two shutouts in 2019-20. Bishop, who has two seasons left on a contract that carries a $4,916,666 cap hit, was a Vezina Trophy finalist in 2019. However, he has had injury problems throughout his NHL career.

LW Dominik Kahun, Edmonton Oilers — The 26-year-old pending restricted free agent has been productive in his three-season NHL career despite playing for four teams over that time. He hit both of the 12-goal and 30-point plateaus, respectively, in each of his first two seasons before scoring nine goals and 15 points.

LHD Olli Maatta, Los Angeles Kings — The 26-year-old did not have much of an offensive impact in his first season in Los Angeles with just four assists in 41 games, but he performed well defensively as he averaged 1:24 worth of penalty-killing ice-time per game. Already a two-time Stanley Cup Champion (2016, 2017) with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Maatta would be an excellent shutdown defenseman who is in his prime. The Kings decided to protect Sean Walker over Maatta, who recorded a 47.02% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 44.67% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 44.56% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage this season.

G Kaapo Kahkonen, Minnesota Wild — In 24 games in his rookie season, the 24-year-old went 16-8-0 with a .902 save percentage, a 2.88 goals-against average, two shutouts. Although Cam Talbot was the team’s starter in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Kahkonen, who has one season left at $725,000 before he can become a restricted free agent, has a high ceiling and is nine years younger than Talbot.

G Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens — After leading the Canadiens to the 2021 Stanley Cup Final while going 13-9 with a .924 save percentage, a 2.28 goals-against average, and one shutout, it is a bit of a stunner that the 34-year-old face of the franchise is exposed. Though, Price has finished with a save percentage of .909 at the highest in three of the past four seasons, including .901 this past regular season. Price, who has five years left on his contract which carries a $10.5 million cap hit, went 12-7-5 with a 2.64 goals-against average and one shutout. Montreal may be betting that the cap hit will scare off the Kracken.

C Ryan Johansen, Nashville Predators — The 28-year-old was expected to be left exposed after posting just seven goals and 22 points in 48 games this past season. He played a little better in the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs where he earned three goals and four points in six games but has four seasons left on a contract that pays him a lucrative $8 million per season.

C Matt Duchene, Predators — The 30-year-old was also expected to be available to the Kraken after posting just six goals and 13 points in 34 regular-season games in 2020-21. Duchene has five seasons left on a deal that carries a cap hit of $8 million. The Predators protected five defensemen in the expansion draft.

LW Josh Bailey, New York Islanders — The 31-year-old posted eight goals and 35 points in 54 regular-season games before tallying six goals and 13 points in 19 Stanley Cup Playoff games for the Islanders this season. Bailey, who comes with a $5 million cap hit for the next three seasons, recorded at least 56 points in three consecutive seasons from 2016-19 and posted 29 assists and 43 points in 68 games in 2019-20.

RW Jordan Eberle, Islanders — The 31-year-old tallied 16 goals and 33 points in 55 games in 2020-21 and four goals and 11 points in 19 Stanley Cup Playoff games. Eberle, who carries a $6 million salary cap charge for the next four seasons, has never scored lower than 16 goals in his 11-season NHL career and was on pace to score 20 in each of the past two seasons for the eight-time in his career.

RW Evgenii Dadonov, Ottawa Senators — While the 32-year-old disappointed in his first season in Ottawa with 13 goals and 20 points in 55 games, Dadonov scored at least 25 goals and 47 points in each of the past three seasons with the Florida Panthers. He makes $5 million per season for two more seasons and his production would likely be higher on a better team.

LW James van Riemsdyk, Philadelphia Flyers — The 32-year-old tied the Flyers lead with 43 points during the 2020-21 season, which included 26 assists. He makes $7 million for the next two seasons.

RW Jakub Voracek, Flyers — The 31-year-old was expected to be left exposed despite tying the team lead in points this past year and leading the orange and black with 34 assists in 53 games. Voracek carries an $8.25 million cap hit through 2023-24.

LW Jason Zucker, Pittsburgh Penguins — The 29-year-old, who has two seasons left on a contract that pays him $5.5 million per season, failed to live up to expectations in his first full season in Pittsburgh where he recorded nine goals and 18 points. Zucker scored at least 20 in four consecutive seasons, including 33 in 2017-18 with the Wild, prior to 2020-21.

LHD Marcus Pettersson, Penguins — The 25-year-old recorded two goals, nine points, a +8 rating, a 48.92% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 51.16% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 48.89% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage in 47 games this season. Pettersson, who carries a $4,025,175 cap hit for the next four seasons, averaged 16:29 per game in 2020-21 (seventh among Penguins defensemen), including 45 seconds on the penalty kill, and tallied a career-high 22 points in 69 games in 2019-20.

RW Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues — The 29-year-old has played in just 34 games over the past two seasons due to shoulder surgeries and reportedly requested a trade out of St. Louis because of how he feels the organization has handled his injuries. Tarasenko, who has a $7.5 million cap hit for the next two seasons, recorded four goals and 14 points in 24 games this past season and scored at least 33 goals and 66 points, respectively, in five straight seasons from 2014-19.

LW Alex Killorn, Tampa Bay Lightning — The 31-year-old tallied 15 goals and 33 points in 56 games this past regular season and eight goals and 17 points in 19 Stanley Cup Playoff games to help the Lightning win their second consecutive Stanley Cup. Killorn, who recorded a career-high 26 goals and 49 points in 68 games in 2019-20, has two seasons left on a contract that pays him $4.45 million per season. The Lightning are currently $3,661,788 over the NHL salary cap and protected four forwards hoping to get some cap relief by losing one.

LW Ondrej Palat, Lightning — The 30-year-old recorded 15 goals and 46 points in 55 regular-season games and five goals and 13 points in 23 Stanley Cup Playoff games. Palat, who accounts for $5.3 million against the salary cap for one more season before he is eligible for unrestricted free agency, has hit the 30-assist plateau four times in his nine-season NHL career and 50-point one three. He recorded five goals and 13 points in 23 Stanley Cup Playoff games in 2021.

LW Conor Sheary, Washington Capitals — The 29-year-old earned 14 goals (fourth on the team) and 22 points in 53 games. Sheary signed a two-year contract extension that carries a team-friendly $1.5 million cap hit in April. He won two Stanley Cups with the Penguins in 2016 and 2017 and scored 23 goals and 53 points in 61 games in 2016-17.

LHD Brenden Dillon, Capitals — The 30-year-old tallied two goals, 19 points, and a +15 rating while averaging 18:57 per game (including 1:47 while shorthanded) in 56 games. Dillon recorded a 50.40% Corsi-for percentage, a 51.56% expected goals-for percentage, and a 51.97% expected goals-for percentage at five-on-five. Dillon has three seasons left on a contract that carries a $3.9 million cap hit.

RHD Justin Schultz, Capitals — The 31-year-old, who has a season and $4 million remaining on his contract, posted three goals, 27 points, and a +12 rating in 46 games after a down season plagued by injuries with the Penguins in 2019-20. Schultz’s production went down after a fast start and injury, and was not the best defensive player, posting a 49.14% Corsi-for percentage, a 48.25% expected goals-for percentage, and a 49.25% scoring chances-for percentage at five-on-five. He won two Stanley Cups with Sheary in Pittsburgh and recorded career-highs in assists (39), points (51), and plus-minus (+27) in 78 games in 2016-17.

RHD Dylan DeMelo, Winnipeg Jets — The 28-year-old posted nine assists, a +10 rating, a 49.29% five-on-five Corsi-for percentage, a 51.49% five-on-five expected goals-for percentage, and a 52.04% five-on-five scoring chances-for percentage while averaging 16:58 per game, including 2:36 on the penalty-kill, in 52 games this past season. He recorded consecutive seasons with at least 20 points with the San Jose Sharks and Senators from 2017-19.

By Harrison Brown

About Harrison Brown

Harrison is a diehard Caps fan and a hockey fanatic with a passion for sports writing. He attended his first game at age 8 and has been a season ticket holder since the 2010-2011 season. His fondest Caps memory was watching the Capitals hoist the Stanley Cup in Las Vegas. In his spare time, he enjoys travel, photography, and hanging out with his two dogs. Follow Harrison on Twitter @HarrisonB927077
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4 Responses to The 25 Biggest Names Left Exposed In 2021 NHL Expansion Draft

  1. Diane Doyle says:

    I haven’t done my own research but I presume you only included the Unprotected guys who are still under contract and no unrestricted free agents.

  2. Diane Doyle says:

    Now I’m hearing stories that Price has hip issues and may miss much of next season. (That will be a disincentive for the Kraken to choose him.)

    • Mark Eiben says:

      10 million dollar cap hit contracts are not for the faint of heart. He is 33 and with health issues…To me it’s a good gamble by Bergevin so he could protect another. I can’t see the Kraken doing this.

Leave a Reply to Mark Eiben Cancel reply