Blues’ Projected Protection List for the Seattle Expansion Draft

The Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft is set to take place on July 21, 2021, and the St. Louis Blues will likely lose a quality player, similar to when they lost David Perron to the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017. With the amount of money that expansion franchises spend to enter the NHL these days, they have a better chance to start with a quality club, as Vegas did.

The Expansion Draft Rules

First of all, players with no-movement clauses within their contracts must be protected if they don’t waive the clause, fortunately, the Blues don’t have any. To add onto that, all first and second-year players don’t have to be protected, as well as unsigned draft choices.

It comes down to the fact that teams can protect either eight skaters and a goaltender, or seven forwards, three defensemen and a goaltender.

St. Louis Blues Doug Armstrong
St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff Roberson)

If you look at notable players and prospects that the Blues won’t have to protect, there are F Klim Kostin, F Jake Neighbours, F Nikita Alexandrov, F Alexei Toropchenko, D Scott Perunovich, G Joel Hofer, G Colten Ellis.

Kraken Expansion Draft: Blues Protection List

F – Ryan O’Reilly

This is an obvious choice, O’Reilly has done nothing but succeed since being dealt to the Blues by the Buffalo Sabres. He’s won a Selke Trophy, a Conn Smythe, and a Stanley Cup – not too shabby in three seasons of work. To cap it off, he’s having his best point-per-game season at 0.98, his previous best was 0.94 in his first season with the Blues in 2018-19.

F – Vladimir Tarasenko

I did go back and forth with this one, I will admit. Tarasenko has not looked the same since the Cup win in 2019 and his shoulder injuries have definitely affected him greatly, but I don’t see the Blues not protecting one of the franchise’s biggest names, whether they’re right or not.

St. Louis Blues Vladimir Tarasenko
St. Louis Blues right wing Vladimir Tarasenko (AP Photo/Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke)

F – Brayden Schenn

Schenn has had his fair share of struggles in the last couple of seasons, but he’s remained the second-best center on the club after they traded for him in 2017 from the Philadelphia Flyers. He signed an eight-year extension early into last season. He isn’t going anywhere.

F – David Perron

The Blues won’t make this mistake again – they left Perron exposed in the 2017 Vegas Expansion Draft, and he played one season there. He helped lead them to an appearance in the Cup Final before signing a free-agent deal to return to St. Louis. He’s a key forward for the Blues, finishing second on the team in points in 2019-20 with 60.

F – Oskar Sundqvist

This is an important one – while he’s missed a lot of this season due to a torn ACL, Sundqvist is a key player to the Blues’ success over the last few seasons. He kills penalties and he produces, he plays a 200-foot game and is one of the better overall forwards that the Blues have.

F – Robert Thomas

Another obvious one – Thomas is one of the bright, young stars on the Blues roster. His playmaking ability is off the charts, the only question is health. He hasn’t stayed healthy in any of his first few NHL seasons, but if he can be healthy, he is easily a top-six forward for the Blues going forward.

Robert Thomas St. Louis Blues
Robert Thomas, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

He tallied over 30 assists in his first two seasons, and I’m expecting him to bounce back during a full season that we should see in 2021-22.

F – Jordan Kyrou

Kyrou is another budding young star in the Blues organization – he got off to a tremendous start to this season but has fallen off since. He still has the skill and talent to be a constant top-six forward for the club going forward, he’ll be fine.

Once he finds chemistry with a line, he’ll begin to be a consistent scorer – he’s got 26 points in 45 games this season and that is after a brutal stretch recently.

D – Colton Parayko

Parayko was supposed to become the No. 1 defenseman for the Blues with Pietrangelo’s departure, but health has held him back this season. He can still be that and he remains an important part of the Blues’ future. His current contract ends after the 2021-22 season, his current cap hit of $5.5 million is reasonable.

D – Torey Krug

Although Krug hasn’t produced to the best of his ability in his first season with the Blues, he is still a big piece on the back-end. I have to think the Blues wouldn’t give him a long-term deal if he wasn’t in their future plans. He is here to stay unless something crazy happens.

D – Justin Faulk

This is a tough one – Faulk has vastly improved from last season to this season, and you could argue he’s been the best overall blueliner for the Blues in 2020-21. The narrative going into this season was Blues fans hoping that the Kraken would take him and his contract in the Expansion Draft, but I don’t think he’ll even be exposed.

Justin Faulk St. Louis Blues
Justin Faulk, St. Louis Blues (Photo by Keith Gillett/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

I went back and forth between him and Vince Dunn, but I went with Faulk with the amount of term he has and his bounce-back season has proven he is reliable in all three zones. He has played tons of minutes and has proven to be worth keeping, I expect that to happen.

G – Jordan Binnington

Not much explaining to do here, the Blues extended Binnington during the 2020-21 season, the extension runs through the 2026-27 season. No doubt he is the goaltender of the future in St. Louis. He hasn’t reached his 2018-19 level of his rookie season where he took the league by storm with a .927 save percentage (SV%).

Who Does Seattle take?

The notably exposed players: D Vince Dunn, F Jaden Schwartz, D Marco Scandella, F Sammy Blais, F Ivan Barbashev, D Niko Mikkola, D Jake Walman, F Mike Hoffman.

The Kraken have some great options to poach a player from the Blues – I expect them to look at a younger player that is a win-now type, and the perfect fit for that is Dunn. He is set to be a restricted free agent (RFA) this summer and will make some money on that new deal.

Vince Dunn St. Louis Blues
Vince Dunn, St. Louis Blues (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

He has Cup pedigree, being a big part of the 2019 championship in St. Louis. He has toughness and tons of offensive skill, he is the perfect type of a top-four defenseman that you can build a new franchise around. He has 102 points in 267 NHL games and he is only 24 years old.

Don’t be surprised if they take someone like Blais or Barbashev who are skilled heavy hitters that are perfect middle-six type forwards. Either way, the Kraken can get a quality winner with whoever they take from the Blues.

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