With only about 90 days remaining until the Seattle Expansion Draft, there is a palpable buzz around the NHL. Front office personnel and fans alike are talking about the NHL’s newest team on almost a daily basis. With that in mind, it’s time to update our LA Kings Protection List Power Rankings.
In an attempt at brevity, we’ll try to avoid going through all the rules again — if you need a quick primer, see the previous article in this series, we answered every conceivable question possible.
However, here are the two most salient points:
1. NHL teams must decide if they want to protect (A) seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie or (B) eight skaters total – regardless of position – and one goalie?
In the original article, we explored the idea of the Kings opting for choice B, primarily so they could protect four defensemen. Of late, our sources have indicated the team are leaning more toward choice A. While this would most likely mean they’d end up exposing Kale Clague, part of the rationale here is that he’s out of waiver options anyway. Which means, come training camp next season, he’d either need to make the Kings opening night roster or be placed on waivers before being reassigned to the AHL.
This is obviously a tricky move, as Clague will have just turned 23 years old at the time of the Expansion Draft. He’ll have three years of AHL experience under his belt after a stellar junior career. This season, he’s split time between the NHL and AHL. With Matt Roy and Toby Bjornfot presently out of the lineup, Clauge is once again getting a look with the big club, in what will most likely be his final push to make a case for protection.
2. Nearly all of LA’s top prospects will not be eligible for the Seattle Expansion Draft.
Exempt Forwards – Jaret Anderson-Dolan, Quinton Byfield, Martin Chromiak, Aidan Dudas, Sammy Fagemo, Arthur Kaliyev, Rasmus Kupari, Tyler Madden, Kasper Simontaival, Johan Sodergran, Akil Thomas, Alex Turcotte, and Gabe Vilardi
Exempt Defensemen – Mikey Anderson, Tobias Bjornfot, Sean Durzi, Brock Faber, Helge Grans, Cole Hults, Kim Nousiainen, Markus Phillips, and Jordan Spence
Exempt Goaltenders – Jacob Ingham, Lukas Parik, and Matt Villalta
As the final few weeks of the NHL regular season chug along, here’s how we currently see things shaking out:
LA KINGS PROTECTION LIST POWER RANKINGS – April 2021
1. Cal Petersen
1. Drew Doughty – even without a contract stipulation requiring he be protected, there would be zero chance Doughty wasn’t protected
2. Matt Roy – armed with a new contract, Steady Eddie is part of LA’s future
3. Sean Walker – could eventually be included in a trade for a top-4 LHD this summer, yet that is more likely after the Expansion Draft
1. Anze Kopitar – one of the best two-way players in the game, he’s not going anywhere (and despite a misunderstanding by some fans, he does not have a contract that requires protection)
2. Alex Iafallo – his new four-year contract tells you all you need to know
3. Adrian Kempe – continues to thrive under McLellan, the real question is which line he best fits on
4. Trevor Moore – two more goals against Vegas this week served as an exclamation point on an otherwise impressive season
5. Andreas Athanasiou – an RFA at season’s end, the Kings are currently working to finalize a two-year contract extension with AA; currently has the fourth most goals on the Kings (despite missing eight games), and has the fifth-best points-per-game among LA forwards
6. Lias Andersson – immensely talented, management is allowing him to round out his game in the AHL right now, and his effective versatility at forward makes him a rare commodity in the organization
7. Carl Grundstrom – by going with 3+7, the Kings now have room to protect Grundstrom
Perhaps the biggest question at this point is, can Blake Lizotte somehow find a way to leapfrog one of the players on the above list? Possible, sure. Not very likely.
For reference, using the above protected list, below is a full list of which Kings players would be eligible for the Seattle Expansion Draft:
Forwards – Dustin Brown, Mikey Eyssimont (RFA), Martin Frk, Boko Imama (RFA), Brendan Lemieux, Blake Lizotte (RFA), Matt Luff (RFA), Drake Rymsha (RFA), and Austin Wagner
Defensemen – Mark Alt (UFA), Daniel Brickley (UFA), Kale Clague (RFA), Kurtis MacDermid, Olli Maatta, Jacob Moverare (RFA), and Austin Strand (RFA)
Goaltender – Jonathan Quick
On July 21, Seattle will only get to select a single player from each of the NHL teams — sans Vegas, they’re excluded from the entire process — so the Kings only stand to lose one guy from the entire pool of players they leave exposed.
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Ed Shapiro says
Lizotte is a hard worker. Kind of like a David Epstein/David Fletcher type player, small but spunky.
However, he doesn’t fit into the long term plans. The Kings will not protect him.
What are the odds that Blake does a side deal w/ Francis to protect Brown? e.g. take someone else besides 23 and we’ll give you a 5th round pick (or something similar)
John Hoven says
Unlikely. In general, Kings don’t have appetite for “spending a second asset” to protect one. Like they did w/ VGK expansion draft, expect LA to put their list together and accept they’ll lose one exposed player.
Noted here – https://twitter.com/mayorNHL/status/1382754567289327622
Patricia Castro says
If you think they’ll protect Athaniasiou over Brown you’ve been licking toads from the Amazon.
Joseph Fester says
This is an easy one to understand. Brown’s contract and age work against him being protected. Seattle won’t pick him, so there is no need to expose AA. Clague is the best choice for Seattle from the LA exposed list.
I know this has been known, but the deck was already loaded for Vegas as it was, so I don’t really understand how they’re exempt from this expansion draft.
John Hoven says
It was predetermined before Vegas came into the league. Those were the rules of engagement. The NHL knew they’d be adding a 32nd team several years after Vegas, so VGK doesn’t get any of the expansion money. And, conversely, they aren’t part of the Expansion Draft. It’s also worth noting, the league didn’t stack the deck for Vegas. Look at the owners if you have a complaint. The Board of Governors opted to change to Expansion Draft rules to make it more enticing for potential owners (i.e. justify their large expansion fees) and to create the competitive balance they wanted for new teams (i.e. to not create doormat teams for a decade). This wasn’t a Gary Bettman thing. He didn’t do this. The BOG approved this. While fans might not like it, none of the owners/teams are complaining.
Jason M says
Quick will be the 1st goalie of the Kraken.
Didn’t Bernstein say on “Kings of the Podcast” last year that the Kings would be willing to “give up one or two assets” to dissuade Seattle from selecting Quick?
John Hoven says
He did say that, yes.
However, from everything we’ve ever heard, the Kings aren’t interested in spending a second asset at the Expansion Draft.
With that said… there is an interesting development happening at the AHL level. ‘Next man up’ Matt Villalta is not having a good season in the AHL. Will that persuade LA mgmt to change their thinking in July? Possible. Until we get confirmation of a change in philosophy, we’ll stick with what we’ve been saying all along.