The Rangers are excited for the playoffs — and planning for the future

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The New York Rangers’ playoff journey starts this weekend, but they’ve already begun preparing for the expansion draft in 2021.

Barring a catastrophic setback, the NHL playoffs will begin this weekend and your New York Rangers and the Carolina Hurricances will begin battle in a best-of-five Stanley Cup Qualifying Round. Puck drop for Game One is set for Noon on Saturday.

I’m pumped for playoff hockey. Call me crazy, but I have and always will watch as much of it as possible. Doesn’t matter if it’s Calgary versus Winnipeg or Toronto against Columbus, I’ll be glued to the TV and especially for Rangers’ games.

At the same time, I’ll think about the Blueshirts’ future (I can’t help it) particularly with regards to the expansion draft next summer when the Seattle Kraken, the NHL’s 32nd franchise, builds its inaugural roster.

It might seem crazy to think about the future with the playoffs just days away and after four-plus months of no hockey at all. But at least I’m not the only one.

“We’ve already done modeling on different scenarios and projections,” Rangers’ general manager Jeff Gorton told The New York Post in June — of 2019. “…We know we’re going to lose a player and probably will be a pretty good player. That’s the way it is.”

Fortunately for the Rangers and their fans, the Blueshirts can’t lose more than one player. And, as Blue Line Station noted months ago, New York’s system is deep.

Here’s a look at how the New York Rangers could be affected.

Expansion Draft Refresher


Everything you need to know about the expansion draft is detailed in our article, but here’s a review:

Rules for Seattle: The rules used for the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft for the Vegas Golden Knights will be applied to this one. Thus, Seattle Kraken general manager Ron Francis must select at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies.

Seattle must choose a minimum of 20 players under contract for the 2021-22 regular season and those with an aggregate value between 60-100 percent of the prior season’s upper limit for the salary cap ($81.5 million). The Kraken cannot buy out players chosen in the expansion draft earlier than the summer following their first season.

Rules for other teams: With the exception of Vegas, which is exempt, each club has two options: 1. Protect seven skaters, three defensemen, and one goalie; or 2. Protect eight skaters (forwards or defensemen) and one goalie. Both options mandate that players with no-movement clauses (NMC) be protected.

Teams must expose players under contract for 2021-22 and include one defenseman and two forwards who played in at least 40 NHL games the prior season or played in at least 70 NHL games in the prior two seasons.

Teams also must expose a goalie who is signed through  2021-22 or will be a restricted free agent at the end of his current contract 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.

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

Forget about teams exposing players who have missed more than the previous 60 consecutive games. Such players, as well as others who have been confirmed to have a career-threatening injury, may not be used to satisfy a team’s player exposure requirements.

How this all affects the Rangers remains to be determined, but how well or poorly a handful of players perform next season could dictate whether they are protected or exposed and we’ll take a close look at those names shortly.

The other wild card is what trades the Rangers could make before the expansion draft.   Right now we will assume that the current roster remains intact and we will start with players who are exempt or must be protected.

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