New Jersey Devils: An Early Look at the 2021 Seattle Expansion Draft

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 21: Jon Merrill is selected by the Vegas Golden Knights during the 2017 NHL Awards and Expansion Draft at T-Mobile Arena on June 21, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 21: Jon Merrill is selected by the Vegas Golden Knights during the 2017 NHL Awards and Expansion Draft at T-Mobile Arena on June 21, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /
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The 2021 Seattle Expansion Draft is slowly approaching, and it quickly presents some issues for the New Jersey Devils. This article will look at players on the current Devils roster who should be protected following no large changes to the current roster. This list will also assume that Taylor Hall re-signs. The rules for Seattle in 2021 will follow the same rules as set for Vegas in the 2017 expansion draft with the only exception being that Vegas will not be included in the draft.

The rules for the 2021 Seattle Expansion draft require that Seattle draft 30 players in total, 14 forwards, nine defensemen, and 3 goalies. Of these players, each team must protect any player with a no-movement clause, and any player with less than 3 years of pro experience is exempt from the draft. This would include players such as Jesper Boqvist, Jack Hughes, and Ty Smith because they have not played their first pro season yet. Finally, Seattle must be within 60-100% of the upper limit to the salary cap for the following season as well as not being allowed to buy out players until one year after the expansion draft.

Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, how will this all impact the New Jersey Devils?

The Devils will have the option to protect either seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goaltender, or eight skaters, they can be forwards or defense and one goaltender. Based on my projected starting night roster for the 2019-2020 the Devils will protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goaltender. Following this layout, here’s the players the Devils should protect:

Forwards
–      Nico Hischier
–      Taylor Hall
–      Jesper Bratt
–      Nikita Gusev
–      Kyle Palmieri
–      Blake Coleman
–      Pavel Zacha

Defensemen
–      Will Butcher
–      Damon Severson
–      P.K. Subban

Goaltenders
–      Cory Schneider

Notable players omitted from this list include the potential re-signing of players such as Wayne Simmonds, Andy Greene, and Travis Zajac. It should also be noted that a number of the players on this protected list will need to receive contract extensions.

These are some very early predictions. The Devils continuing to improve, and they may take in new talent that would have to be protected. However, looking at the current talent level the Devils have the opportunity to protect players crucial for remaining a perennial playoff contender due to the abundance of young talent that remain exempt from the expansion draft.

Nick Villano recently wrote an article covering the dire situation the Devils may be in come the expansion draft due to their recent talent additions which is available here. This being said these are 3 players who I believe will be targeted in the expansion draft.

New Jersey Devils Have Big Issue With Expansion Draft. light. Related Story

MacKenzie Blackwood

MacKenzie Blackwood is coming off a great season which saw him go from an average AHL starter to potentially the goaltender of the Devils future. His emergence was one of the few bright spots for the Devils during the 2018-2019 campaign, but this may all change drastically come 2021.

Blackwood might become the target of Seattle in the expansion draft depending on what the Devils decide to do with Cory Schneider. Teams are only allowed to protect one goaltender, which barring any unforeseen circumstances such as the Devils buying out Schneider or finding a way to trade him through his No-Trade Clause. Should Blackwood build on his dominant rookie campaign, he will catch a lot of eyes in Seattle.

Miles Wood

Miles Wood has the potential to become a great player. Even after a lackluster season which saw his goals and shooting percentage almost halved, he possesses scary fast skating and grit a young team needs. This coupled with him only being 23, he still has the chance to become a weapon to fill out the Devils depth charts.

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Should he return to his 2017-2018 form, he may be a piece Seattle looks to add to bolster their speed and grit. Going to an expansion team could provide Wood with a better opportunity to play top-line minutes and find his true potential.

Michael McLeod

Michael McLeod is a big, fast, talented center drafted 12th overall in the 2016 entry draft. He has had difficulties finding his consistency at the pro level. In 21 NHL games last season, he only put up three points. McLeod is a special case because he could very well become an NHL starter as soon as next season. If this happens, then it’s likely we see Pavel Zacha on this list in his place.

However, at the moment the Devils have a ton of depth at center and this season will have a lot of depth at wing which is good for competition, but can make it difficult for McLeod to grab one of the seemingly few open roster spots. A comparable player taken in the Vegas Expansion draft was William Karlsson, given the appropriate chance and motivation, there is no telling the player that McLeod could become making him a prime target for Seattle.

Let’s rehash again that these are extremely early predictions for what may happen if the roster stays the same or similar due to Shero playing it carefully prior to the expansion draft. The Devils could also attempt to preserve some of their talent by trading extra assets for Seattle to draft a certain player. This option could protect any of the three players above. There is still two years between now and the expansion draft and the Devils opening night roster could look a lot different in 2021 than in 2019, look at the large change from just this offseason, but it is interesting to speculate the players that the Devils will protect and those that may be targeted by Seattle.