On Saturday, the Boston Bruins have to submit their protection list to the NHL for the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft on July 21. While there are some easy decisions to make in regards to who to protect, there are some choices to be made, mostly with their forwards, on who the final few protected players will be.
Seattle will select one player from each team, except the Vegas Golden Knights. More than likely, the Bruins and general manager Don Sweeney will use the common 7-3-1 method to protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie. A couple of the THW’s Bruins coverage team members, Hannah Garfield and Scott Roche will try and predict who the Black and Gold will protect from being selected by the Kraken.
Forwards: Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak, Charlie Coyle, Craig Smith, Jake DeBrusk, and Trent Frederic
Defensemen: Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, and Matt Grzelcyk
Goaltender: Dan Vladar
While there are definitely some decisions that need to be made when it comes to the Bruins protection list for the Seattle Expansion Draft, they aren’t necessarily tough decisions. Similar to the 2017 Vegas Expansion Draft, the team has the space to protect the important pieces. Whoever is left exposed will be a decent player, but not necessarily a backbreaker. It makes it fairly simple for Boston management as there shouldn’t be any need to try to negotiate with the Seattle Kraken about who they will or won’t take.
Bergeron, Marchand, and Coyle all have No Movement Clauses (NMC), so they have to be protected. Even after a down year for Coyle, all three are players you would want to be protected anyways. After a great first year in Boston, Smith is also an easy addition to the protection list, as is Pastrnak, leaving just two spots left for forwards. There are a number of guys that could be in those two spots, but Frederic has become a fan favorite and still has a lot of potential upside, so he makes sense to protect.
The final spot, despite a down year, should go to DeBrusk. Originally, I wasn’t sure if he should be protected. They spent a first-round pick on him, saw firsthand what his potential could be when he scored 27 goals in 2018-19, and have spent a lot of time giving him opportunities. He’s still young, so if left exposed, he’d probably be taken, and the Bruins can’t lose him for nothing.
The three defensemen and goalie protected are no-brainers. This leaves Nick Ritchie and Curtis Lazar as the two biggest names exposed on offense and Jeremy Lauzon and Connor Clifton exposed on defense. Ultimately, I believe Seattle will pick Lauzon. It will definitely be a loss as the young defenseman has shown potential, but it isn’t the end of the world.
Forwards: Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak, Craig Smith, Charlie Coyle, Nick Ritchie, and Jake DeBrusk
Defensemen: Matt Grzelcyk, Brandon Carlo, Charlie McAvoy
Goaltender: Dan Vladar
Bergeron, Marchand, and Coyle each have a No Movement Clause (NMC), so those three are no-brainers. Pastrnak and Smith just make sense as they are the top two right wings right now. After that, it’s a tough call. I went with Ritchie and DeBrusk and left Trent Frederic exposed because I think that the Kraken will select a defenseman from the Bruins.
If the Kraken end up taking Frederic, then that would mean that three young defensemen that are expected to go unprotected will be returning to Boston. Jeremy Lauzon, Connor Clifton, and Jakub Zboril make the most sense for Seattle to take one of the young blueliners, but stranger things have happened. Frederic just signed a two-year, $2.1 million contract extension in June that carries a $1.050 million capt hit, which would be a cheap addition for a first-round pick in 2016. In the end, either Lauzon or Clifton will most likely be selected by Seattle.
Final Decisions by the Front Office Looms
Yes, there were some easy decisions, while some tough ones on the back end. The night of the draft, whether it’s a forward or defenseman, the Bruins are going to lose a player that contributed during the 2020-21 season. There are plenty of decisions to be made over the next two weeks between the expansion draft, the NHL Entry Draft, and free agency by the Bruins and it should be a very interesting couple of weeks in Boston.