As everyone in the NHL world is aware, a new franchise will be in the league next season. The Seattle Kraken are the 32nd franchise to join the NHL and that means an expansion draft will take place. On July 21st, the newest franchise will be putting their team together. That had me thinking, which players should the Buffalo Sabres protect? In this article, I’m going to tell you which players the Sabres should protect in the expansion draft.
How It Works
Before I get started, I’m going to give a quick rundown on how it works. Each NHL franchise needs to submit a list of players they want to keep. Each team can keep 7 forwards, 3 defensemen and 1 goalie. Players with no-movement clauses must be protected while first and second year players are exempt.
Buffalo Sabres Expansion Draft Forwards
Jack Eichel, Victor Olofsson, Sam Reinhart, Jeff Skinner (no movement clause), Anders Bjork, Tage Thompson, Casey Mittelstadt
For the forwards, there are some obvious choices. Starting off with the players in the picture above. Jack Eichel, Victor Olofsson and Sam Reinhart are no brainers. While Olofsson is a staple going forward, the future for both Reinhart and Eichel are uncertain but regardless of what happens with them they will be most certainly protected. Jeff Skinner has a no movement clause on his contract so he’s automatically protected. Next up for me is Anders Bjork. Bjork came over from Boston in the Taylor Hall deal and he finished strong with the Sabres towards the end of the year and I think he will be a good depth player for Buffalo moving forward.
The last two forwards I’m protecting are Tage Thompson and Casey Mittelstadt. Both players haven’t been reached the level of play Sabres fans and management would’ve hoped but last year was a different story. After the firing of former head coach Ralph Krueger, both Mittelstadt and Thompson were really productive under new head coach Don Granato. It was another rough season for the Sabres but both of these players were bright spots towards the end of last year.
Buffalo Sabres Expansion Draft Defensemen
Rasmus Dahlin, Henri Jokiharju, William Borgen
For the defenseman, Rasmus Dahlin is the most obvious choice for me. I think we all know why the Sabres should protect him so I won’t get into that. Up next for me is Henri Jokiharju. Henri came over from the Chicago Blackhawks in the Alex Nylander deal a couple of years ago and he’s a solid defenseman. Lastly, this might come as a surprise but William Borgen is my other choice. It might be an unpopular choice but I think he has potential. I know people might ask me why Rasmus Ristolainen and Jake McCabe aren’t on the list but I do like Borgen.
Buffalo Sabres Expansion Draft Goaltender
Linus Ullmark is my choice to be the protected goalie. He is a unrestricted free agent but he was arguably the reason Buffalo won the majority of their games last year. Ullmark is a starter in this league but the only thing that concerns me is he seems to get injured. It sounds stupid because injuries are unpredictable but he was hurt a couple of times last year. Despite his history of injuries, I think he is a good goalie and Buffalo should protect him.
I think Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams list could be similar to mine. We’ll see what Buffalo does sometime in the next week or so but it’s possible it will look like what I listed in this article. I have a good feeling it will be like this but you never know.
(Featured image credit to Syracuse.com).
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-Zach Jezioro (@ZachJezioro_13 on Twitter)