Latest Expansion Draft Talk

With the official rules now in place, the Penguins’ brass have just begun in the last week to 10 days examining the expansion draft much closer.

The Penguins learned in mid-November by the NHL the following players have to be automatically protected:
Sidney Crosby
Evgeni Malkin
Marc-Andre Fleury
Phil Kessel
Kris Letang

Based off the structure of their roster, when the time for the expansion draft comes, the Penguins seem to certain to take the Seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender option than the Eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender option.

Projecting who the Penguins will protect is kind of pointless in December because the Penguins could still shake up this roster a bit between now and the trade deadline and obviously have the goaltender situation to sort out between now and June.

However, my sense of the situation that if the draft were today, this is the 10 skaters the Penguins would protect and in order of how they’re valued.

Sidney Crosby
Evgeni Malkin
Phil Kessel
Patric Hornqvist
Conor Sheary
Bryan Rust
Carl Hagelin

Kris Letang
Olli Maatta
Brian Dumoulin

Matt Murray

The personnel on the blueline might be the Penguins weakness, but the team believes there’s a strong chance they could lose a quality defender. Under this scenario, Ian Cole, Justin Schultz (RFA), Trevor Daley (UFA), Derrick Pouliot would all be exposed.

The looming expansion draft is also impacting extension talks for players who might or might not be protected as agents have concerns for clients signing extensions now, not getting protected and getting selected in the expansion draft.

That’s been a topic of discussion between Penguins d[hide]efenseman Trevor Daley and his agent Rich Curran in recent weeks, per sources.

The Penguins are open to an extension as is Daley, but Curran is smart enough to know there’s no guarantee Daley would be protected. At Daley’s age and raising a family, he has no interest in playing for Vegas.

Agents and players have to weigh that scenario now. From Daley’s standpoint, the best move might be to just wait till the summer, though, a decision not to sign an extension hasn’t been made.

schultzJustin Schultz also becomes an interesting case in the coming months.

Although he was a UFA last summer because the Penguins didn’t tender him, he doesn’t turn 27 till July 6, meaning he’s an RFA this summer and a lock to be tendered at $1.4 million.

Schultz is eligible to sign an extension on January 1, 2017.

Schultz is starting to become a strong fit as a No. 3 defenseman. Penguins assistant Jacques Martin see’s some No. 2 pairing ability down the road still in Schultz. Others, though, disagree and believe his ceiling is right where how the Penguins are deploying him right now.

Regardless, he’s a player that will surely interest Vegas to some degree. Vegas GM George McPhee wants a fast quick team with puck movers on the backend.

Schultz is repped by Wade Arnott of Newport Sports. They almost always recommend their clients to not sign extensions in season.

Schultz, though, loves it in Pittsburgh but like Daley there would be risk to sign an extension now and potentially be left unprotected in June’s draft. [/hide]