Which New Jersey Devils Will Be Protected in the SBN NHL Mock Expansion Draft?

Which one of these three Devils will not be protected in the SBN NHL Mock Expansion Draft? According to Tom, Kevin, and myself, consider the jubilant man on the right. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

SBN NHL has been setting up a mock expansion draft in the past few days. Fans have been able to vote on the cities as well as the nicknames of those cities in this Storystream.   The people collectively decided upon Winnipeg and Quebec City as the teams, and nicknames could very well be the "Jets" and the "Nordiques."  I suppose nostalgia is too hard to resist even for an extensive thought experiment.  So much for forward-thinking.  Anyway.

Now, the fun begins and where we come in. Every blog on the network will come up with their protection lists for their respective teams.  For those who are unaware, when the NHL expanded in the past, the current clubs were allowed to protect only part of their roster.  The unprotected players would be available for the expansion teams to select to fill out their inaugural roster.  The last expansion draft was done for the 2000-01 season for the Minnesota Wild and the Columbus Blue Jackets. While I'm sure there would be additional factors for an expansion team to consider if there's one today, such as the salary cap floor, SBN NHL has decided to use those regulations for this mock expansion draft. 

At a minimum, this is a fun exercise to determine which New Jersey Devils are valuable enough to keep around and who you'd like to see dumped.  I can already guess of one name that comes to mind.  Find out what the rules are; see who Kevin, Tom, and I protected if we were in charge of New Jersey; and discuss who you would protect. All of this after the jump.

8/31 Update: Matthew has a protection list, so I have added it to this post.  Remember to make your comments because I'll make my consensus list tomorrow night!

The Rules for Protection

Here are the ground rules for the SBN Hockey 2010 Mock Expansion Draft:

  •  Teams can protect either "1 goalie, 5 defensemen and 9 forwards" OR "2 goalies, 3 defensemen and 7 forwards."
  •  If you go the two goalie route, at least one goalie left unprotected must have played in at least 10 games last season OR 25 games in the last two seasons combined. One game = at least 31 minutes
  • 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 two 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 games are automatically exempt and do not need to be protected.

Given that the Devils only have two goalies who meet the minimum game requirements, the protection list is going to have to be the "1 goalie, 5 defensemen, and 9 forwards" option.

Here's an additional New Jersey-specific ground rule: The protection list must be made based on the current roster. As of right now, Ilya Kovalchuk is not a Devil.  Yes, there's been a contract submitted.  But until it's accepted and officially registered, he's not a Devil.  So he can't be protected, the Devils only have 11 total forwards, and therefore is not in the following three lists. 

The final protection list will be submitted for the mock expansion draft on Thursday, so if Kovalchuk becomes a Devil before Thursday, then he'll need to be protected.   That's pretty easy and I cover that in the "Protecting Kovalchuk" section.

The Protection Lists of Your ILWT Writers

Here's my protection list with a quick take:

Protected Goalie (1): Martin Brodeur

Protected Defensemen (5): Anton Volchenkov, Henrik Tallinder, Colin White, Andy Greene, Bryce Salvador

Protected Forwards (9): Zach Parise, Travis Zajac, Patrik Elias, Jamie Langenbrunner, Jason Arnott, David Clarkson, Vladimir Zharkov, Dainius Zubrus, Pierre-Luc-Letourneau-Leblond

My Quick Take: I've left Johan Hedberg unprotected since the Devils could conceivably get a decent backup for cheap.  Mark Fraser, Anssi Salmela, and Rod Pelley were left unprotected because the Devils have players in the system who could step into the third-pairing or the fourth line and not necessarily get worse. Though, there is a "big" name on the unprotected list is Brian Rolston.  A NTC and his $5 million/year cap hit along with his performance makes him undesirable in a trade; but he can be useful for an expansion team if only to get closer to that important salary cap lower limit.    Should Rolston be picked up, then there's no need to move Dainius Zubrus or Bryce Salvador.

Tom Stivali drew up his protection list a little bit differently from mine:

Protected Goalie (1): Martin Brodeur

Protected Defensemen (5): Anton Volchenkov, Anssi Salmela, Henrik Tallinder, Mark Fraser, Andy Greene

Protected Forwards (9): David Clarkson, Travis Zajac, Zach Parise, Jason Arnott, Dainius Zubrus, Vladimir Zharkov, Patrik Elias, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond, Jamie Langenbrunner

Tom's Quick Take: If expansion was to come I would use it as an opportunity to help secure UFA/RFAs next year (Parise, possibly Greene) by making salary available with the exposure of White/Salvador/Rolston.  

Kevin Sellathamby had similar thoughts, but had a different group for the defensemen:

Protected Goalie (1): Martin Brodeur

Protected Defensemen (5): Colin White, Andy Greene, Henrik Tallinder, Anton Volchenkov, Anssi Salmela

Protected Forwards (9): Zach Parise, Travis Zajac, Jamie Langenbrunner, Patrik Elias, Jason Arnott, David Clarkson, Dainius Zubrus, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond and Vladimir Zharkov

Kevin's Quick Take: Salvador and Rolston can be claimed. Helps our team out with the cap situation if they're claimed. Fraser and Pelley getting claimed will not hurt the team as well, they can be replaced by some of the kids in Albany.

UPDATE: Matt Ventolo has a list as well, so here it is:

Protected Goalie (1): Martin Brodeur

Protected Defensemen (5): Anton Volchenkov, Henrik Tallinder, Bryce Salvador, Andy Greene, Mark Fraser

Protected Forwards (9): Jason Arnott, David Clarkson, Patrik Elias, Jamie Langenbrunner, Zach Parise, Travis Zajac, Vladimir Zharkov, Dainius Zubrus, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond

Matt's Quick Take: It fits nice that Rolston and Pelley both played 40+. I chose Salvador over  White because of the 100k difference in salary. It helps the expansion teams make the minimum and gives the Devils a wee bit more cap space.

Notice all how all three of us have identical lists for goaltender and forward. There's no way Brodeur or Parise or someone of that caliber would be exposed.  Only on defense do we waver, and even there, it's over two spots.  Greene, Volchenkov, and Tallinder are consensus locks for protection. I don't know about you, but I take that to mean that most of the current roster is worth keeping.  

Also, notice how all three of us used this opportunity to leave Brian Rolston exposed.   Again, his salary may be way too much for what he does on the ice, but an expansion team may need that massive cap hit to boost their total roster value.    In other words, the least costly way to dump the Rolston contract (or any other Devil with a NTC) could very well be through an expansion draft.     Unfortunately for all Devils fans that would love to see Rolston's cap hit go away, there's no way the NHL is going to expand with a month before a season and fast-track the team(s) for 2010-11.  There's a better chance that I get a unicorn before that happens. 

Still, it's a good idea for this mock expansion draft.

Protecting Kovalchuk (if necessary)

If or when Ilya Kovalchuk's contract comes through, then another forward would have to be left unprotected.   This is simple, though.  Given that Leblond played in only 27 games last year, he can be moved off the protected list since he's exempt.  Kovalchuk can take his spot on the protection list.  

Some of you may be asking: Why not use that spot for Rod Pelley?  Remember, the Devils need to leave at least two forwards who played 40 games or more last season or 70 in the last two.  Pelley fits the bill but Leblond does not.  Ergo, Pelley's exposed and Leblond is warming up on the list for hopefully the incoming signing.

Who Would You Protect?

Now it's your turn.  What do you think of our lists?  What feedback do you have? If you want, please feel free to make your own.  Please read the rules, and make your protection lists in the comments.  By Wednesday night, I will review the comments and try to come up with some consensus protection list for the New Jersey Devils. That will be submitted to the people running this at SBN NHL on Thursday. 

The actual mock expansion draft is planned for this coming Saturday.  I don't believe the GMs are announced yet, but when they are, I would politely suggest that they take Brian Rolston.  Thanks for reading.

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