While the expansion draft’s rules have been set, there are still small details trickling in every now and then. And here’s the latest one: Hunter Shinkaruk and Emile Poirier will be eligible to be taken. So should the Flames want to keep them, they must protect them.
This news comes to us via Arthur Staple:
NHL deputy commish Bill Daly confirmed to me via email today that Ryan Pulock must be protected in the expansion draft. #Isles
— Arthur Staple (@StapeNewsday) July 25, 2016
Like Shinkaruk and Poirier, Pulock played in the AHL during the 2014-15 season, even though his entry-level contract slid due to his late-year birthday. That was, technically, his first year of professional experience; the 2015-16 season was his second.
That means the 2016-17 season will be his (and their) third professional season: which makes them eligible to be taken.
— General Fanager (@generalfanager) July 25, 2016
Who do the Flames protect?
Well, at least another slot almost certainly got filled up.
Assuming the Flames opt to protect seven forwards, three defencemen, and one goalie, then here’s what the list looks like right now:
Goalie: Brian Elliott.
This assumes an extension. There are still a few problems to be worked out here, however; the Flames still have no goalies under contract for the 2017-18 season, and they need to leave at least one exposed.
Also, while I do not believe we have ever received official confirmation, we don’t think Jon Gillies needs to be protected; while he signed his contract at the end of the 2014-15 season, he played zero professional games, so the 2016-17 season should be considered his second professional year.
Defencemen: Mark Girodano, T.J. Brodie, Dougie Hamilton.
Forwards: Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Sam Bennett, Mikael Backlund, Michael Frolik.
That was the original list. Troy Brouwer is probably added to it now, which would leave just one spot open for one more player. And at this point in time, that player is probably Hunter Shinkaruk.
Who is left exposed?
There are still some undesirable contracts left open to Vegas, such as Matt Stajan and Lance Bouma’s. Jyrki Jokipakka is left open, though, because if the Flames want to protect four defencemen, then they can only protect four forwards, which is increasingly shaping up to be a no-go.
Micheal Ferland is also left exposed under this criteria. We’re pretty hopeful he’ll have a good year this year, so that may not be a desirable route to take.
Suddenly, the Flames have just a touch too many bodies to protect – which is kind of the goal of the expansion draft, so that Vegas doesn’t start their existence a total tire fire – and will have some tough decisions ahead, depending on how everyone’s 2016-17 goes.
But with many of us expecting Shinkaruk to play a bigger role in the NHL sooner rather than later, is there any way the Flames don’t protect him? What if Poirier’s bad year was an aberration and he returns to expectations felt this time a year ago, what then?
… What if the Flames think Shinkaruk and Ferland will have stronger seasons in the years to come than Brouwer?
These are all going to be things to keep an eye on through the season. Now, a couple more players will be playing to stay in Calgary – not be left open for Vegas to take.