The Flames have full control over who to protect in the expansion draft

With a 31st NHL team announced – the Vegas Golden Knights – expansion draft talk is heating up again. We know that at least one of the Calgary Flames playing on this year’s team will, next season, be wearing a Golden Knights jersey instead.

I say “at least one” because the Flames have a number of free agents, too, that will be eligible to go to Vegas by their own choice. (Deryk Engelland, who has strong ties to Las Vegas, is probably the strongest candidate.)

But otherwise, the Flames will have full control over which players they want to protect.

And I mean full – because they’re one of four teams without a single no-movement clause on their roster at the time the protected list is to be submitted.

Sure, a number of Flames have no-trade clauses – Troy Brouwer, Michael Frolik, Matt Stajan, Kris Versteeg, and Mark Giordano – but the only no-movement clause on this team is Dennis Wideman’s, and he’ll be en route to being a free agent when the expansion draft takes place on June 17, 2017.

And isn’t that a nice thing to note: Wideman is a Jay Feaster signing. Since him, no other player on the Flames has been granted a NMC. The most Brad Treliving has done is give two big free agent signings – Brouwer and Frolik – no-trade clauses (modified, in Frolik’s case), as well as Giordano. Versteeg also ended up with one, but I like to think it’s of the “shh, we won’t make you go back to Edmonton, it’s okay you’re safe now” variety.

So, who gets protected? CapFriendly has a helpful tool to figure it out. 

Either it’s seven forwards, three defencemen, and a goalie, or eight skaters and a goalie. The former is much more likely: despite their lacklustre season so far, the Flames have more than four forwards they wouldn’t want to lose.

As things stand right now, this would be my guess at the Flames’ protection list:

  • Johnny Gaudreau
  • Sean Monahan
  • Troy Brouwer
  • Michael Frolik
  • Mikael Backlund
  • Sam Bennett
  • Micheal Ferland
  • Mark Giordano
  • Dougie Hamilton
  • T.J. Brodie
  • Chad Johnson

It’s a long season, though. Brian Elliott could easily come back and prove to be the favourable goalie over Johnson. Brett Kulak could still find a way to force the Flames’ hands, and make a decision that much tougher. Perhaps Hunter Shinkaruk could do the same, if he really breaks out at some point this season.

Not to mention, there’s always the possibility of the Flames trading for someone else they want to protect – or trading any of these guys, for that matter.

But the main takeaway from all of this: the Flames aren’t handcuffed in the slightest. They have full control over who they want to protect. And that’s good flexibility to have.

  • Danomitee

    Do you protect Mark Giordano? I’m kind of on the fence, he’s owed a lot of money until hes close to 40. Love Gio, and the contract was way better then where the expectations were but we have to be honest here. It’s gonna suck in a couple years.

    • BlueMoonNigel

      I would say no to protecting him because his contract and age should be a poison pill for the Knights, but what would stop the Knights from selecting him and immediately trading him for something of value?

      Flames should try and shop him first at the deadline to gauge his market value. If he doesn’t attract much attention, why not expose him? Yeah, they could lose a pretty good player or the opportunity cost of him as a tradable asset, but that is one big chunk of change coming back to the Flames if they shift ol’ Guts and Glory.

      • cjc

        The problem is that any team trading for him would need to be able to protect him, be a legit contender, and have cap space. That severely limits trade partners.

    • cjc

      Yes, you protect him. Losing Gio for nothing would be poor asset management. Unless the hope is that LV won’t jump at his contract, which is a major gamble.

      • Kevin R

        Hard to believe people on this thread wanting to expose Gio. Ludicrous is being polite. Not only would the optics be horrible hanging your captain out there but Gio is a top 4 D that has more value than what is being posted here tonight. For what, to protect Kulak???? Unbelievable. We have 3 guys that can step in & do as good of a job as Kulak on the farm next year. Not that I wouldn’t prefer Kulak being a Flame next year, at the cost of Gio, seriously????

        • BlueMoonNigel

          Issue isn’t with Gio now, but look down the road 2 or 3 years when that enormous contract and slow old body become a constant source of complaint for Flames fans who lament that he is a burden on a team on the move.

          Great if you could lose him in exchange for more salary space. That is always a hot commodity in the cap world.

          I wouldn’t worry about the optics because most fans today are savvy enough to understand the realities of the cap world and that sentimentality has no place in the cap world.

          Old adage rings true here about better to get rid of a guy a year too soon than a year too late.

          • T&A4Flames

            I think the optics he speaks of are about the perceptions to other players in the league that we would just hang our captain out to dry by exposing him. It would make players think twice about signing here.

  • Prototype369

    I honestly see Engelland signing as a free agent with the Knights, and then Jokipakka being selected as an expansion player. And according to rumors, Fleury was being shopped out of Pittsburgh by the deadline. If he isn’t traded, hes ending up in Vegas

  • clib542

    Engelland probably isn’t the top candidate for Vegas because of his contract status – UFA

    Vegas is required to pick 20/30 players who have a contract in the 16/17 season. Player who are unprotected who meet the minimum requirements (40/70) are the odds on favourite to be selected. Prospects with contracts already for 2016-2017 will also be considered, but Vegas needs to be in a range for cap purposes.

    Right now, according to the protected list above, the players likely to be picked are

    F Hamilton

    Note, there are no defence in that list. Flames are lacking a minimum exposure defencemen to leave unprotected, unless they leave one of Gio/Brodie/Hamilton exposed.

  • cjc

    If the Flames have a guy they just can’t accept losing (e.g. Kulak), then they should trade a draft pick to LV with the understanding that someone else will be picked.

  • wot96

    I’m as critical of Wideman as anyone but that goal doesn’t happen without him making a good play.

    Oops – wrong thread.

    Vegas also has first crack at UFAs, no?

  • dontcryWOLF88

    Craig Button did a mock expansion draft for TSN that predicts vegas picking Bouma.

    His prediction was Fleury and Lack for the goalie tandem

    Most teams will probably opt to protect 7 forwards and 3 defensemen…since its an extra two protection spaces. That leaves a lot of pretty decent talent available around the league who are currently steady second line D men. Kulak will probably be fine.

    Forward is the position the G Knights will struggle to find depth at in the expansion draft, so says Button.

  • Jeremy

    I hate seeing people weighting off Gio like he’s automatically done when he turns 35.

    I hope people all remember Chris Chelios. A defender like Gio who had the most amazing work out ethic. Chill played in the NHL at age 47. Gio’s contract ends at 38.

    I expect a similar aging process for Mark, because he’ll ensure that he’s able all the way thru his contract.

  • KiLLKiND

    I think we should protect Shinkaruk instead of Brouwer. Especially with how brutal Brouwer has looked with Monahan lately. Shinkaruk is going to have far more long-term value than Brouwer as well.

  • Hubcap1

    There are some very foolish Flames fans here. Seriously some of you would expose Giordano to the expansion draft. Give your head a shake. Every other team in the league would take him and his contract. If the Flames really wanted to protect another player over him, first, that player would have had to massively stepped up their game, second, the Flames would trade a great asset like Giordano rather than, like a tool, give him away for NOTHING.