This past Friday, I discussed which forwards I believe the Bruins should protect in this summer’s Seattle expansion draft. I also went over the rules for the draft. You can check out that article here. Now, it’s time to take a look at which three defensemen and which goaltender the Bruins should protect this summer.
Unlike the forwards, it is very easy to predict which defensemen the Bruins will protect from the Seattle expansion draft this summer . They are almost certainly as follows:
Much like Bergeron, Marchand, and Pastrnak, there are no circumstances under which McAvoy will be exposed to Seattle this summer. There simply aren’t. He’s just 23 years old, and his name is already in the Norris Trophy conversation (and deservedly so). There is no doubt in my mind he’ll have win one at some point in his career, and it’s likely not too far away. So, there is simply no scenario in which he gets exposed (or even traded at any point). As Jack Edwards likes to say, he’s a “bonafide stallion” who should be a Bruin for his whole career.
Carlo is in a similar boat to McAvoy in that there aren’t any scenarios in which he’ll be exposed. At just 24 years old, Carlo is one of the top shutdown defensemen in the NHL and has been for a few years. Given how defensemen usually develop slower than forwards, that’s absolutely incredible. It speaks to just how good Carlo is already, and he’s still improving. On top of his skill, Carlo is a natural-born leader, and could easily be the next captain of the franchise (but that’s another article for another time). So, he’s here to stay for a long time and is another lock to be protected this summer.
Last but not least, we have Matt Grzelcyk. Grzelcyk is perhaps the most underrated defenseman (and players for that matter) that the Bruins have. However, that is starting to change since he came back from his most recent injury. His puck-moving and transition abilities were sorely missed by the team. Now that he’s back, the difference he makes is clear. There was some chatter before his return that he could be left exposed in favor of Jeremy Lauzon. But, I think it’s safe to say that idea has gone out the window now. Grzelcyk is a cost-controlled and incredibly valuable member of this Bruins team. He will get the third protected defenseman spot this summer.
Jeremy Lauzon is the Likely Casualty
Protecting these three will leave Jeremy Lauzon, Connor Clifton, John Moore, and Jakub Zboril as the four defensemen that are under contract and will be exposed. The others are either UFAs (Kevan Miller, Jarred Tinordi, Steven Kampfer) or are first or second years pros and are therefore exempt from the draft (Urho Vaakanainen). It hurts to have to expose Lauzon, who has largely been very good this season. He is likely going to be the player the Bruins lose unless they make a side deal with Seattle.
The only way I think the Bruins avoid losing Lauzon is if the Kraken need to take on money and want a more veteran presence. If that’s the case, the Bruins might be able to entice them to take Moore if they sweeten the deal a bit. However, I don’t think that’ll happen, as Lauzon would be a great pick-up for them, and they should be able to find enough bad contracts from other teams with less-enticing options.
Last but not least, we’ve arrived at the goaltenders. This situation is a bit more nuanced than it initially seems. Both Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak are UFAs at the end of this season, and the only other goalie eligible for the draft is Dan Vladar. So, if they don’t re-sign Rask or Halak before the draft, Vladar will be protected. If they re-sign one of them, that one will likely be protected. Lastly, if they re-sign both, Rask will certainly be the protected goaltender.
Personally, I don’t think the Bruins should re-sign either goalie before the Seattle expansion draft. Vladar isn’t a huge threat to be picked given what else the Bruins will be offering. But, the Kraken might have slim picking when it comes to goaltenders, especially young ones. So, why risk it if you don’t have to? Bruins GM Don Sweeney can negotiate contracts with either (or both) netminder before the draft if he wants to (which he’s said he’s open to), but to have them put the pen to the paper until after the draft is frankly stupid.
All in all, this list was much more straight-forward than the last one. McAvoy, Carlo, and Grzelcyk will undoubtedly be the three protected defensemen. Then, Vladar will be the protected goalie unless Rask and/or Halak is re-signed before the Seattle expansion draft, in which case Rask (or Halak if Rask is unsigned) will be.
As I discussed above though, this list unfortunately includes the likely future member of the Kraken. I don’t see the Kraken jumping to pick a guy like Bjork, Smith or Ritchie (whichever is exposed) over Jeremy Lauzon, who will be the best defenseman available. I suppose Clifton might look interesting to them, or even Moore depending on what they need. But, Lauzon is significantly better, and they’ll be able to fill the Clifton and Moore-type roles from teams with less-enticing options available. So, it would be shocking to see them do that here unless the Bruins make a deal.
It’s going to hurt to lose Lauzon for nothing. He’s becoming a great player, and he’s a left-shot, which the Bruins are hurting for. But, they do have Vaakanainen in the pipeline, and with a little more seasoning, he should be good to go as soon as next year. So, I suppose it could be worse, but it could also be a lot better. If the Kraken doesn’t ask for too much, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that Sweeney makes a deal to ensure they pick someone like Moore instead. So, that’s something to keep an eye on too.
What do you think? Will the Kraken pick Lauzon, or someone else? Or, will Sweeney make a deal to ensure they pick a certain player, such as Moore? Let us know in the comments, or over on Twitter!
-Lydia Murray (@lydia_murray12)
Featured image courtesy of NHL.com.
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