New York Rangers: Expansion Draft Looming, Who Could Go?

The newest NHL franchise from Las Vegas will select one player from each team in the expansion draft after this season. Each team can protect a group of players. The General Managers chose who to protect and expose.

The New York Rangers will have to deal with the stress of an expansion draft this summer. The NHL announced the rules this past June for how the expansion draft will work. Las Vegas will select one player from each of the league’s 30 teams. They cannot select just any player, though.

Each team can protect a group of players from being selected. Each GM will be able to choose between two options for the groups they would like to protect.

Either seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goaltender, or eight skaters and one goaltender can be protected.

(There are a flurry of requirements for who must be protected and who can’t be. They can be found in detail here.)

Pavel Buchnevich, Brady Skjei, Jimmy Vesey, and Oscar Lindberg will be exempt from the draft because they haven’t played more than two years in the NHL. Henrik Lundqvist, Dan Girardi, and Marc Staal must be protected because they have full no-movement clauses. They are not automatically protected and count towards the protected players limit.

This leaves the Rangers with a real dilemma. Who do you protect? Who do you expose? The Rangers will likely opt for the protection option that protects seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goaltender. It gives them the most protection around the no-movement clauses and it lets them protect more forwards. Here’s who the Rangers should protect (in no particular order).


Derek Stepan, Mika Zibanejad, Mats Zuccarello, Chris Kreider, Kevin Hayes, JT MillerBrandon Pirri

The Rangers don’t have to worry about Vesey because he is a first-year player. He would likely be in this group if he wasn’t exempt. One of the rules is that the Rangers must expose two forwards who have played at least 70 games over the last two seasons or 40 games this season and are under contract for 2017-2018. Michael Grabner will probably be one of those players, and unfortunately Rick Nash might end up being the other.

The transitioning Rangers need to treasure their talented youth. Nash is the oldest forward on the team and hasn’t been worth his 7.8 million dollar cap hit. The Rangers only have six players signed through next season, meaning someone needs to go. This could absolutely change if Nash keeps it up. For now, we only have memories of his slump last season and consistent playoff woes. Pirri has played phenomenal and is the best RFA heading into the summer. It would be nice to have a chance to resign him. The Rangers would be smart to protect him.


Marc Staal (No-Movement), Dan Girardi (No-Movement), Ryan McDonagh

I really hate the no movement rule here. It would have been nice to know when the Rangers signed these contracts. Protecting McDonagh here is a no-brainer. He will be just 28-years-old at the time of the draft and is the best defensemen on the team. Brady Skjei is exempt, so that exposes Kevin Klein, Nick Holden, and Adam Clendening. The same rule from the forwards about exposing players who have played 70 games over the past two season or 40 games this season and is signed through 2017-2018 applies to one defenseman. Both Klein and Holden cover that requirement.


Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Henrik Lundqvist (No-movement)

Hank probably would have been safe regardless. There could have been an argument to let him go due to his age, but that seems very doubtful. The Rangers won’t have to worry about the stress of choosing. Antti Raanta will be left exposed.

The Las Vegas GM needs to decide where he wants to go with his goalie selections. If he wants a young goalie with lots of upside, Raanta could go. If he is looking for more experience, Raanta will likely be avoided. It would be a huge loss if Raanta was selected, but Rangers fans might prefer to see him go over anyone else.