Expansion preparations are something just about every team will have to do in some form or fashion. Whether it’s making a move at the deadline, signing a free agent, or shuffling players up from the AHL to hit the experience requirements, each of the current 30 teams have some work to do.
We’ve long known goaltenders were going to be a hot button issue. Teams are only allowed to protect one, and seven clubs have a goalie with a No Movement Clause forcing them to either protect that player or ask him to waive it. But it’s the second part of the goalie rule that a surprising number of teams will have to make moves to fulfill.
(Teams must expose) One goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18. If the club elects to make a restricted free agent goaltender available in order to meet this requirement, that goaltender must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the club’s protected list. -NHL Official Expansion Rules
Right now, 13 teams cannot currently meet the requirement, and therefore must sign, re-sign, extend a qualifying offer, or trade for a goalie to avoid a penalty (likely forfeiting draft picks).
Montreal recently re-signed Al Montoya, giving them an extra goaltender under contract to expose, and Anaheim re-upped Dustin Tokarski to do the same.
Here’s a look at all 30 teams’ goalie situation as it pertains to the draft. Teams in red must make a move by June to ensure they meet the NHL’s requirement. (There are examples of what these teams must do after the list.)
Anaheim Ducks – Gibson (RFA 2019), Tokarski (UFA 2018)
Arizona Coyotes – Smith (UFA 2019), Domingue (RFA 2018)
Boston Bruins – Rask (UFA 2021), Khudobin (UFA 2018)
Buffalo Sabres – Lehner (RFA 2017), Ullmark (RFA 2017), Nisson (UFA 2017)
Calgary Flames – McCollum (UFA 2018), Elliott (UFA 2017), Johnson (UFA 2017)
Carolina Hurricanes – Ward (UFA 2018), Lack (UFA 2018)
Chicago Blackhawks – Crawford *NMC* (UFA 2020), Carruth (RFA 2017) Darling (UFA 2017)
Colorado Avalanche – Varlamov (UFA 2019), Pickard (RFA 2018)
Columbus Blue Jackets – Bobrovsky *NMC* (UFA 2019), Dansk (RFA 2017), Koriasalo (RFA 2017), Forsberg (RFA 2017), McElhinney (UFA 2017)
Dallas Stars – Lehtonen (UFA 2018), Niemi (UFA 2018)
Detroit Red Wings – Howard (UFA 2019), Mrazek (RFA 2018), Coreau (RFA 2018)
Edmonton Oilers – Talbot *NMC* (UFA 2019), Bossoit (RFA 2018)
Florida Panthers – Luongo (UFA 2022), Reimer (UFA 2021)
Los Angeles Kings – Quick (UFA 2023), Zatkoff (UFA 2018), Campbell (RFA 2018)
Minnesota Wild – Dubnyk (UFA 2021), Keumper (UFA 2017), Stalock (UFA 2017)
Montreal Canadiens – Price *NMC* (UFA 2018), Montoya (UFA 2019)
Nashville Predators – Rinne *NMC* (UFA 2019), Mazanec (RFA 2017)
New Jersey Devils – Schneider (UFA 2022), Wedgewood (RFA 2017), Kinkaid (UFA 2017)
New York Islanders – Halak (UFA 2018), Berube (RFA 2017), Bibson (RFA 2017), Greiss (UFA 2017)
New York Rangers – Lundqvist *NMC* (UFA 2021), Raanta (UFA 2018)
Ottawa Senators – Anderson (UFA 2018), Hammond (UFA 2018)
Philadelphia Flyers – Mason (UFA 2017), Stolarz (RFA 2017), Neuvirth (UFA 2017)
Pittsburgh Penguins – Fleury *NMC* (UFA 2019), Murray (RFA 2020)
San Jose Sharks – Jones (RFA 2018), Dell (RFA 2018)
St. Louis Blues – Allen (UFA 2021), Hutton (UFA 2018)
Tampa Bay Lightning – Bishop (UFA 2017), Vasilevskiy (RFA 2020), Gudlevskis (RFA 2017)
Toronto Maple Leafs – Andersen (UFA 2021), Bibeau (RFA 2017), Sparks (RFA 2017), Enroth (UFA 2017)
Vancouver Canucks – Miller (UFA 2017), Markstrom (UFA 2020), Bachman (UFA 2018)
Washington Capitals – Holtby (UFA 2020), Grubauer (RFA 2017), Cannata (UFA 2017)
Winnipeg Jets – Hutchinson (UFA 2018), Hellebuyck (RFA 2017), Pavelec (UFA 2017)
The Blackhawks, BJ’s, Predators, Devils, Islanders, Flyers, Lightning, Leafs, Caps, and Jets are all in the same situation. All they must do is simply make a qualifying offer to their RFA (restricted free agent) and they’ll be good to go. It’s not quite that cut and dry with RFA’s, but we’ll get into that another day.
Things get a bit hairier with the remaining teams. Let’s start with Buffalo. The Sabres have three Expansion eligible goalies on their current roster. All three are entering either restricted free agency or free agency. There are two options for the Sabres. 1) They can extend qualifying offers to both RFA’s, Lehner and Ullmark. They would then protect one, and leave the other exposed. 2) Extend a qualifying offer to one RFA and re-sign UFA Nilsson. Once again, protecting one, and exposing the other.
Finally there’s Calgary and Minnesota. Both teams have one goalie under contract beyond the Expansion Draft. They also each have two goalies under contract today, but heading to unrestricted free agency at the year’s end. To meet the requirement, both must sign a goalie, and leave him unprotected in June. Keep in mind, because the draft is before July 1st, teams cannot sign free agents off other rosters. So, each will be forced to re-up one of their UFA’s, only to offer him, and his likely short, friendly contract, to the Golden Knights.
EDIT: Calgary could opt to expose McCollum without re-signing either pending UFA. They do have 22-year-old goalie Jon Gilles, who is exempt, that could make the NHL roster next season. The Flames would however risk entering free agency with a 22-year-old as their only contracted goalie. (Stick tap @BrianEdel for pointing this out)
All in all, goalies are going to be a hot topic from now until the deadline, and then again before protection lists are due on June 17th. Anaheim and Montreal have already begun their preparations, and 13 others have work to do. Throw trades into the mix, and we’ve got a lot to cover the next six months. Should be fun.
**All contract terms are sourced from CapFriendly.com using their Expansion Tool.**