Ennis? Bogosian? Moulson? Ullmark? Will the Sabres manage to pawn off a big salary on the Vegas Golden Knights or will Tim Murray have work to do in terms of which players he exposes and which players he protects. Chris and Tyler run down Buffalo’s options for the expansion draft while also hitting on the signing of CJ Smith, USWNT negotiations and Sam Reinhart’s benching.
One of the storylines to track as the NHL inches closer to this summer’s expansion draft is what choices each team will make in goal. Due to their current contract situation, the Sabres are among the teams that have work to do in that department.
Unlike with forwards or defensemen, each team has a very simple set of rules to follow. You can protect one non-exempt goaltender and each team must expose at least one goaltender who is under contract for the 2017-18 season. Restricted free agents can be exposed so long as they have been tendered by their current club. It’s very straightforward and there’s little wiggle room when it comes to making a choice.
All three of Buffalo’s goaltenders are currently on expiring contracts and none have been extended at this time. Anders Nilsson is really the only one who is a threat to leave as a free agent as both Linus Ullmark and Robin Lehner are restricted free agents. That means Lehner and Ullmark will almost certainly receive their qualifying offers and negotiate a new deal for 2017-18, thus eliminating much of the guesswork when it comes to expansion. So while none of Buffalo’s goaltenders are signed through next season, they’re in much better shape than Calgary or Philadelphia, for example.
The Sabres are hardly the only team without a precise roadmap in goal in terms of the upcoming expansion draft. Philly and Calgary both have a pair of UFAs to decide on and a host of teams have goalies with NMCs but no signed backups who can be exposed. Chicago, Columbus, Nashville, New Jersey, Tampa Bay, Toronto and Washington all either have starters with an NMC or an obvious choice as to who they’ll protect. However, each has work to do in order to lock in a goalie who will be eligible to be exposed. Many of these teams will simply need to qualify their RFAs, so the work for many will be simple. Continue reading
The last two weeks of action hasn’t just put the Sabres in a better position to contend in the Eastern Conference this season, Tim Murray’s moves have also made his potential expansion moves more obvious.
Entering the offseason the likelihood of Murray adding at least one significant body at forward and perhaps another on the blueline made handicapping Buffalo’s expansion options difficult. There were too many holes and too many question marks to nail down throughout the summer. Now that Kyle Okposo and Dmitri Kulikov are officially Sabres, pinning down exactly who Tim Murray will protect is a little bit easier.
Vegas’ selections will become official on June 21 of next summer although with their choices being made on the 20th you can probably count on hearing a few leaks ahead of time. The rules have found their way into the public’s hands as the process progressed and if you aren’t already familiar with the NHL Expansion Draft rules, you can find them here.
For the most part, the Sabres are in a very advantageous position heading into next summer’s expansion draft. The exemption of first and second year pros means the likes of Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart won’t need to be exposed. This concession actually rules out over a half-dozen forwards who are under contract with the Sabres moving forward, a significant number which provides flexibility when it comes to the players who will be eligible to be selected. Continue reading