Anaheim Ducks Expansion Draft Protection Strategy

In this series, we”re going to break down individual teams before the expansion draft. In this one, see which players the Anaheim Ducks should protect, why, and who they could lose.

The Anaheim Ducks have a few players on No Movement Clause contracts. Those players are going to be kept in Anaheim, but who else will join them? Will the Ducks go with the classic 7/3/1 protection strategy for forwards, defensemen, and goaltenders? Or will the Ducks choose to protect four defensemen?

The Anaheim Ducks Forwards

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Anaheim Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf (15) celebrates his goal with teammates Corey Perry (10) , Ryan Kesler (17) and Cam Fowler (4) (Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports)

The forwards Anaheim will look to protect include their core, which is crucial to their having made the playoffs for the last six seasons, including this year. Those three forwards are Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler, and Ryan Getzlaf. All three have NMCs too, which makes the decision easy.

The three also led the Ducks in points this season, so that helps. Kesler is a leading contender for the Selke award this year, Perry remains one of the best power forwards in the league, and Getzlaf remains a prominent passer. Getzlaf had 73 points, a huge uptick from last year. Kesler had 58, Perry had 53.

The Ducks are also going to keep their other 50 point scorer, Rickard Rakell. Rakell is 23 and scored 33 goals, the most on the team. Protecting Rakell just makes sense, just like with Perry, Getzlaf, and Kesler.

Anaheim is also going to protect Antoine Vermette, Andrew Cogliano, and Jakob Silfverberg. This rounds out the Ducks’ top scorers, with Nick Ritchie exempt from the expansion draft due to the three years rule. They remain a prominent scoring threat and make sure not to lose any crucial players.

The Ducks will expose Jared Boll, Chris Wagner, and Logan Shaw in the expansion draft. This meets their minimum requirement of two forwards who have played enough games over enough years and are still contracted.

Protected Defensemen

The defensemen of Anaheim is actually a weird category when it comes to expansion. They have five defensemen worth protecting – in descending order of “should protect-ability”: Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, Cam Fowler, Josh Manson, and Kevin Bieksa. The thing is, the only one of these guys with an NMC is defenseman number five, Kevin Bieksa.

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Anaheim Ducks former goalie Frederik Andersen (31) blocks a shot as defenseman Sami Vatanen (45) and defenseman Hampus Lindholm (47) help defend (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

And I don’t think Bieksa is going to waive his NMC. Why should he? He’s at the end of his career, he’s going to the playoffs with the team, if he’s going to win the Cup it’s going to be in Anaheim. Stay in Anaheim and win the Cup. That’s better than anything Vegas has to offer.

Which means Anaheim should protect Vatanen and Lindholm along with Bieksa. They’re Anaheim’s best duo when they’re healthy, and they could get more for Fowler than for either of them because Cam is a better offensive defenseman. Fowler could bring in a great return, and so should be traded at the draft.

Which means that Anaheim has to expose Josh Manson. They can make a backroom deal with Vegas not to take Manson, say hey, take Logan Shaw instead. But I think Vegas is going to turn that deal down and get a good young cheap defenseman for free.

Protected Goaltenders & Exempt Players

The goaltender situation in Anaheim is easy. Protect young goaltender John Gibson. Dustin Tokarski is going to be exposed in the draft. The Ducks can find another backup somewhere else, and let Jonathan Bernier and Jhonas Enroth walk. Like I said. Easy.

The exempt players for Anaheim are numerous and some could be important in the future. The list

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Anaheim Ducks goalie John Gibson (36) (Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports)

includes Sam Steel (last year’s first round pick), Nick Ritchie, Ondrej Kase, Brandon Montour, and Shea Theodore, amongst others. That’s a good list of young players, plus the Ducks don’t have to worry about protecting them.

Ultimately, the Ducks are going to lose Manson or Shaw. They’ll survive it though, and a good return for Fowler will do the Ducks well. Maybe get them back into actual Cup contention, if GM Bob Murray deals well enough.

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