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NHL Seattle expansion draft: goalies

In the first of a multi-part series, I take a look at potential goalie candidates ahead of the 2021 Expansion Draft.

Washington Capitals v Vegas Golden Knights Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Seattle expansion draft is set to take place in June of 2021. In other words, a lifetime away as far as the National Hockey League is concerned.

Teams will swap players as they develop and regress, injuries will force moves, and prospects will change the landscape. But come 2021, these teams - regardless of whether they are gunning for the cup or deep into a rebuild - will have to submit a list of players to protect in the draft. For the glass half empty group, a list of players they are willing to lose.

The league has set the stage by leaving the expansion draft rules alone.

Seattle will work their way - one-by-one - through each of the 30 teams required to participate. The Vegas Golden Knights are exempt from the process due to a deal made with the league when they entered in 2021. They will not receive a piece of the $650-million expansion fee from Seattle.

The future front office will select a minimum of 20-players who are under contract for the 2021-22 regular season from teams who are able to protect either seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goalie.

All players with no movement clauses at the time of the draft, and who decline to waive those clauses, must be protected and will be counted toward their team’s applicable protection limits.

All first- and second-year NHL players, and all unsigned draft choices, will be exempt from selection (and will not be counted toward protection limits.

Each team must expose the following:

  • One defenseman who is a) under contract in 2021-22 and b) played in at least 40 NHL games the prior season or played in at least 70 NHL games in the prior two seasons.
  • Two forwards who are a) under contract in 2021-22 and b) played at least 40 NHL games the prior season or played in at least 70 NHL games in the prior two seasons.
  • One goalie who is under contract in 2021-22 or will be a restricted free agent at the end of his current contract immediately prior to 2021-22. If a team elects to make a restricted free agent goalie available to meet this requirement, that goalie must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the team’s protected list.

It is also important to note that players with potential career-ending injuries who have missed more than the previous 60 consecutive games may not be used to satisfy a team’s player exposure requirements.

Of course their other specifics, such Seattle cannot buy out players chosen in the Expansion Draft earlier than the summer following its first season, but the above rules are most prominent when it comes to the draft itself.

While we are still a couple years away, this is no longer a dream for us. Seattle will take the ice - in whichever colors or name they choose - at Seattle Center in 2021.

So in preparation of what’s ahead, I have been taking in every article I can find, reading web forums, and observing draft boards on CapFriendly.

Again, these will likely change over the next two years, but here are some potential goalie candidates- in no specific order.

Braden Holtby

Put simply, the Washington Capitals will have to protect Ilya Samsonov. The 21-year-old Russian was selected with the Caps first pick in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and is highly regarded as their future netminder.

The now 29-year-old Holtby earned his first starting role or the Caps ahead of the 2012-13 season under then head coach Adam Oates. The three-time NHL All-Star took home the Vezina Trophy in 2016 which is awarded to the goaltender who is “adjudged to be the best at this position”.

Entering the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Capitals head coach Barry Trotz decided to place back-up-goaltender Philipp Grubauer between the pipes. Grubauer struggled during the teams first two games against a young Columbus Blue Jackets squad and was ultimately swapped out for Holtby who remained in net for the remainder of the playoffs and led his team to the franchises first ever Stanley Cup.

Jonathan Quick

Jonathan Quick isn’t getting any younger and injuries continue to pile up. The 32-year-old LA Kings netminder missed five games with a lower-body injury following the season opener and was kept to four more (0-3-1) before undergoing knee surgery.

The one-time Olympic goalie for Team USA has now logged 11 games in net with a .892 save percentage. There is also the possibility that Quick is traded from LA prior to the trade deadline. So, as with everyone else on this list, time will tell if he is even available come the 2021 expansion draft.

Pavel Francouz

There are always question marks with players transitioning to the North American game. The ice is smaller, the players are more skilled, and the game is faster. This is no more apparent than when the Vegas Golden Knights signed Vadim Shipachyov prior to their inaugural season. Long story short, he refused to start in the AHL, left the city unannounced, and eventually Vegas got out of the contract.

For Pavel Francouz, currently in the Colorado Avalanche system, the story is of another character.

I had a conversation with him a few weeks ago in which he said something along the lines of, “I have a car now and an apartment. Those were the two biggest challenges”.

In his first four North American games, he went a perfect 4-0-0 and compiled a .941 save percentage. When I asked about his early success, he credited the small sample size.

Now, 20 starts into the season, and he boasts a 2.59 goals-against average and .921 save percentage. This kid can play hockey and nothing about his numbers in Russia were a fluke. Better yet, he is the type of player any locker room would benefit from. His teammates love him and he always brings a smile to the conversation.

Time will tell if he is ready for the NHL level, but the ceiling is high and he could be a solid number two off the bench.

Adin Hill

The 22-year-old Adin Hill is in his third pro season with the Arizona Coyotes and will be eligible in the upcoming draft should the Coyotes extend his contract. The big question surrounding whether Arizona will protect or expose him comes down to the health of Antti Raanta.

Raanta was easily one of the top goaltenders in the back half of last season but has battled injuries this year and is currently out indefinitely with a lower-body injury. And with Darcy Kuemper and Calvin Pickard also on the depth chart, the team will likely opt for the young Hill who has a 1.62 goals-against average through seven games this year in the NHL.

There are other names to keep an eye on as this is not an exhaustive list but it’s enough to get the conversation started. I suspect Seattle will likely end up with an older generation netminder on the downswing and a younger fringe player.