The expansion draft is coming next summer, and the Blackhawks will reportedly have some work to do to have a roster that meets the specific requirements set up by the league for the draft.
In a column today on ESPN.com, Pierre LeBrun notes that the Blackhawks may have to add veteran players – or re-sign some pending free agents – to meet the required number of exposed players.
LeBrun reminds us of those rules: “Teams can either protect 7-3-1 (seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie) or eight skaters and a goalie. Teams also must expose a minimum of four players (two forwards, one defenseman, one goalie) who meet the games-played and contractual requirement.”
As we have outlined previously, the Blackhawks will have eight players exempt because of no-move clauses in their contracts: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Artem Anisimov, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford.
One question that has come up is whether or not Artemi Panarin is eligible for expansion. While we have indicated in the past that Panarin would be exempt, LeBrun points out that Panarin is exempt from the expansion draft “as a ‘second-year pro,’ so Chicago doesn’t even have to add him to its list.” LeBrun also points out that the Blackhawks’ rookie forwards (Vinnie Hinostroza, Nick Schmaltz, Tyler Motte) and defensemen Gustav Forsling and Michal Kempny are also exempt. (Note: Kempny signed a one-year deal, but will be a restricted free agent next summer.)
Assuming he is with the Blackhawks at the end of the regular season (and this might be enough motivation to keep him), Trevor van Riemsdyk figures to be the defenseman exposed.
Similarly, center Marcus Kruger (and his $3,083,333 cap hit) figure to be exposed.
But, as LeBrun continues, the Hawks need to find another eligible forward and an eligible goaltender to expose.
Andrew Desjardins and Jordin Tootoo will be unrestricted free agents next summer and don’t figure to be back in Chicago.
Dennis Rasmussen and Richard Panik, like Panarin, are set to be restricted free agents next summer. Both would be nice to have back, and Rasmussen’s work on penalty killing lately could make him a suitable replacement for Kruger if he’s selected.
In net, the Blackhawks would need to either acquire someone who meets the 70-40 rule or re-sign Scott Darling with the possibility that he’s selected by Las Vegas being very real.
However it works out, the Blackhawks do appear to have some items to work on before June.
Also on Tuesday, TSN Director of Scouting and resident GM Craig Button conducted a mock expansion draft. Here are the players he selected: