Barring a last minute trade before Saturday afternoon’s deadline, the LA Kings have finalized their Protection List in advance of next week’s Seattle Expansion Draft.
We’ve checked in with all of our sources connected to the team and the final draft is pretty much what we reported in our June article, with one exception – as noted a few weeks ago, newly acquired Viktor Arvidsson will be replacing the spot previously held by Carl Grundstrom.
LA KINGS PROTECTION LIST POWER RANKINGS – FINAL VERSION
All players are listed alphabetically, by position:
Lias Andersson – a point-per-game player in the AHL this past season, he’s expected to take on a full-time role with the big club come October
Viktor Arvidsson – one of the two experienced forwards the Kings were looking to add this summer; we looked at how he fits into the Opening Night lineup here
Dustin Brown – even with a small chance the Kraken would take him if left exposed, he led the team in goals in 2021; and in a summer when the Kings are looking for more offense, they don’t want/need another hole to fill
Alex Iafallo – the Matt Roy of forwards; nothing flashy, yet certainly effective
Adrian Kempe – earned the trust of coach Todd McLellan during the 2021 season, showing he can be effective at multiple positions in the lineup
Anze Kopitar – severely underrated; quietly goes about his business as one of the best 200-foot players in the NHL
Trevor Moore – he’ll be protected, yet keep an eye on his contract negotiations this summer; he’s one-year away from unrestricted free agency
LA KINGS PLAYERS EXEMPT FROM THE EXPANSION DRAFT
The best news for LA is that nearly all of their top prospects cannot be taken by Seattle, including:
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
LIST OF KINGS PLAYERS AVAILABLE TO THE KRAKEN
Using the above information, here is a full list of Kings players eligible for the 2021 Expansion Draft:
Forwards – Andreas Athanasiou (RFA), Mikey Eyssimont (RFA), Martin Frk, Carl Grundstrom, Boko Imama (RFA), Brendan Lemieux, Blake Lizotte, Matt Luff (RFA), Drake Rymsha (RFA), and Austin Wagner
Defensemen – Mark Alt (UFA), Daniel Brickley (UFA), Kale Clague (RFA), Olli Maatta, Kurtis MacDermid, Jacob Moverare (RFA), Austin Strand (RFA), and Christian Wolanin
Goaltender – Jonathan Quick, Troy Grosenick
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ON LA KINGS RFAs
Qualifying offers are due to players by July 26. Currently, we do not expect the Kings to qualify Athanasiou, Luff, or Rymsha. We discussed the Athanasiou situation in detail here.
Clague and Strand would almost certainly be qualified, if the Kings don’t first come to terms with either player after the Expansion Draft.
Eyssimont is likely a coin-flip right now. He’s been a solid player for the Reign, yet his spot in the ‘big picture plan’ is a bit fuzzy. More on that next week.
Imama is an interesting one. He’s very well-respected throughout the organization and we’re expecting him back. Will they qualify him or will they come to terms on a different deal?
2021 NHL EXPANSION DRAFT RULES
Although Protection Lists are due to the league office this Saturday, the actual Expansion Draft won’t take place until Wednesday, July 21. That evening, Seattle will get to select a single player from each of the NHL teams — sans Vegas, they’re excluded from the entire process (a rule that was created before VGK ever played their first NHL game, largely because they don’t get to share in any of the Seattle expansion money). Thus, the Kings only stand to lose one guy from the entire pool of players they’ll leave exposed.
For anybody needing a quick primer — or even just a reminder — of how the protection process works, we encourage you to read the original article in this series, as we answered every conceivable question possible about the Expansion Draft.
In the spirit of brevity, one of the key points is that 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.
As outlined above, the Kings are going with option A. While this leads to them exposing Kale Clague, part of the rationale here is that he’s out of waiver options. Which means, come training camp next season, he’ll either need to make the Kings roster or be placed on waivers before he’s reassigned to the AHL.
This is obviously a tricky move, as Clague just turned 23 earlier this month and he’s shown to be rather versatile on the blueline. He has three years of AHL experience under his belt after a stellar junior career, so he’s knocking on the door of a full-time role. This past season, he saw action in both the NHL and AHL. At different points, Clague was up with the Kings, making his final push to be protected.
From a Seattle perspective, it leaves them with about five or six players to reasonably consider from LA’s list of available names. Who will the Kraken most likely select from the Kings? We’ll breakdown the top candidates in a subsequent article soon.
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