It is still two seasons away, but the St. Louis Blues are already thinking about possible players to protect in the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft.
The Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues are loaded from top to bottom but are going to have to give up someone for nothing in two seasons. For now, it is time to go in-depth and look at who the Blues could protect for the NHL Expansion Draft.
There are two directions that NHL teams can go in when it comes to protecting players. For instance, you can choose to protect eight skaters and one goalie leaving you with 9 total players protected. This combination of players can be any mixture of forwards and defensemen.
The other available option is for teams to protect exactly seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie. This would lead you to a total of 11 protected players.
It may seem smartest to protect 11 players instead of nine players, however, the decision is not always in a teams control. For example, the Chicago Blackhawks have Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook signed under a no-movement clause.
This means the Blackhawks are required to protect both of these defensemen. This would leave Chicago with the option to only protect one more defenseman, or protect more defensemen, but not protect as many forwards.
Luckily for the Blues, the only player that currently has a no-movement clause is Vladimir Tarasenko. It should be a no brainer that he stays protected anyways.
The NHL also requires teams to keep a goalie exposed who will be signed beyond 2021. Keep in mind, players who are in their first or second season of professional hockey, are exempt from the list of players who will be available in the draft.
The following players will be exempt from the draft as well as any additional draft picks from now until the expansion draft. Any players that have not yet signed an NHL entry-level contract also make this list.
Erik Foley (22) F, Dominik Bokk (19) F, Klim Kostin (20) F, Dakota Joshua (23) C, Alexei Toropchenko (20) C, Evan Polei (23) F, Petteri Lindbohm (25) D, Joel Hoefer (18) G
The Blues are deep at forward. It is more than likely, they choose to protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie.