Who’s It Going to B? A Look at the Bruins’ Situation ahead of the Seattle Expansion Draft

The Stanley Cup final has come to an end and, thus, the conclusion to the abbreviated 2021 NHL season. Next up on the league agenda for all teams: the Seattle Expansion Draft. I’m taking an in-depth look at the Boston Bruins current situation regarding the expansion draft. Of course, their situation could change depending on any trades between now and Wednesday, July 21st.

The NHL released the rules for the draft a few months back and they are pretty much the same as the Vegas expansion draft back in 2017 {with the exception that Vegas itself will be exempt from participating in this one). The article linked also details out what players need to be protected-if you’d like a quick refresher course.

Protection Option A or B

The expectation for much of this season has been that the Boston Bruins will elect to go with the 7-3-1 protection option or model (seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender). Regardless of which option they choose, the Bruins are going to lose a good player.

If you’re not already familiar with it, CapFriendly provides the most accurate expansion simulation tool out there. Below is all the information you need regarding the Bruins and the expansion draft. Players requiring protection are written in green:

Provided by capfriendly.com

Overview of each position

Goaltending isn’t a concern with the Bruins and the expansion draft. Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak are both UFAs this offseason, so they don’t need to be protected. Rookie phenom Jeremey Swayman doesn’t meet the exposure criteria, so he is safe. This leaves rookie goaltenders Dan Vladar and Callum Booth. Vladar is expected to be protected.

Then it starts to get a little complicated. For forwards, the No Movement Clause (NMC) players such as Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Charlie Coyle are all expected to be protected and not waive their NMCs. Additionally, there’s no way the Bruins will leave Pastrnak unprotected. So already there are four forward spots out of seven. Two of the remaining three spots I would expect to be filled by Craig Smith and Jake DeBrusk.

The defense doesn’t get any easier. With three spots to fill, two choices are blatantly obvious. Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, the two pillars of this Bruins defense. The third spot, and this may not be a popular opinion, will be Matt Grzelcyk. Grzelyck ended the post season with probably his worst game as a professional NHL defenseman. However, he is still a high end top 4-5 defensemen and is slotted even higher on this Bruins team.

So, who remains and is potentially left unprotected for the Bruins in the expansion draft?

Nick Ritchie

This season Nick “Thicc” Ritchie set a career high in goals and landed himself the 7th player award. He is a RFA heading into this offseason. Ritchie really brought the net-front presence the Bruins depth and first power play unit desperately needed this past season. However, he seemed to fizzle out a bit and, by playoff time, it appeared he couldn’t keep up with the pace of play. Sadly, he wasn’t the only one. If left unprotected I could see him being an enticing option for the Seattle Kraken.

Trent Frederic

The kid is electric and already a fan favorite. He came out of the gate at the start of the season a man possessed. Challenging the likes of PK Subban, Brendan Lemieux and the (not so) heavyweight Tom Wilson. Prior to his brief illness in the middle of the season, he appeared to fall out of favor with the coaching staff. We didn’t see much more of him the remainder of the season, after his return from said illness. He did enough to earn himself a new contract with the Bruins. However, I don’t believe that his contract necessarily means he gets that last spot. Rather, it was an easy contract to close. He could still be left unprotected and thus, another interesting option for the Kraken.

Curtis Lazar

Lazar was the lesser-known player in the trade that brought Taylor Hall to Boston at the trade deadline. But his impact was noticed immediately. The fourth line has struggled to find their identity since the loss of Noel Acciari two off-seasons ago. Lazar was a breath of fresh air and took some pressure off of Sean Kuraly and Chris Wagner, who at times were both healthy scratches this season. Losing Lazar late in the second round was another nail in the coffin for an already injury decimated Bruins team. I expect him to be left unprotected but remain a Bruin. He also remains a key piece to that Bruins forth line moving forward.

Jérémy Lauzon

Expectations were set quite high for Lauzon this season. With the departures of Torey Krug and Zdeno Chara on the Bruins left defensive side, Lauzon was slotted into the top four. Unfortunately, his season was plagued by hand injuries. One injury was reportedly sustained during the Lake Tahoe game back in February and the other during the first round of the playoffs. Lauzon is still rounding out his game but he has shown his potential since he joined the NHL squad back in 2018-2019. Seattle could very well have their sights set upon this big, strong and, (at times) nasty young Bruins defender.

Conor Clifton

Prior to the start of this season and up until the start of playoffs this year, I didn’t see Clifton as much more than a 6-7 guy. He’s a guy who can provide a spark for your team with his offensive instincts and occasional big hits. This opinion has since changed a bit. Injuries to the defensive core all throughout the playoffs really put the pressure on Clifton to elevate his game. I think he did. Being asked to not only play north of 15 minutes a game but also on your off-handed side is no simple task for any NHL defensemen of his caliber. The question that remains is, did he do enough to catch the eyes of the Kraken? It would hurt to lose Clifton, but the Bruins lack of depth on the left side as opposed to the right side is apparent.

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-Josh Croteau (@_JCRO)

Image Source: boston.com

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