Boston Bruins: Expansion Draft Targets For Las Vegas

Feb 22, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Matt Calvert (11) fights Boston Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller (86) during the third period of the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-4 win over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 22, 2016; Boston, MA, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets left wing Matt Calvert (11) fights Boston Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller (86) during the third period of the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-4 win over the Boston Bruins at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports /

The Boston Bruins will likely lose a quality player at the NHL expansion draft.

Now that the Las Vegas Black Knights (or whatever they end up being called) have joined the National Hockey League, a certain amount of chaos will be thrown at every other team. Las Vegas will have their expansion draft, and the Bruins along with the rest of league will be losing a player.

So, at this stage of the game, who will the Boston Bruins end up losing?

Let’s start by removing the players that are protected. David Backes, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, and David Krejci are currently covered under the no-move clause. If we use the seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie system(the plan the Bruins are more likely to use for the draft), that’s three forwards and one defenseman down.

The Bruins will keep Tuukka Rask. There is no way that Don Sweeney will throw away a Vezina winning goalie (Unless he makes a bunch of dubious political statements and then decides to take a year off while still under contract). It seemed they signed Anton Khudobin in order to have not just a NHL-capable goalie backing Rask, but having a tempting target (especially if Khudobin has a bounce back season) for the expansion draft.

The Bruins will then move to protect Brad Marchand. Marchand wants to stay in Boston, and the Bruins want him to stay in Boston. It’s clear that both parties would put together some kind of deal that involves a no-move clause. Either way, he’s off the list.

The Bruins would then protect Torey Krug. Some people don’t like him because he’s too small. Some people don’t like him because he only put up four goals last season. Some people don’t like him cause he’s not Canadian (I wish I was kidding).

Torey Krug has been the best positive surprise for Boston since Rich Peverley in 2011, and the game seven comeback in 2013.  He’s the kind of player no GM would give up unless absolutely necessary.

Good left wings were hard to come by in free agency. The Bruins couldn’t figure out how to keep Loui Eriksson in the Black and Gold, so they let him go.  Don Sweeney and company don’t want that to happen again, so they’d keep Matt Beleskey.

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David Pastrnak would be eligible for the expansion draft, and I can’t see the Bruins letting him go. Crossing him off the list leaves us with one forward, and one defenseman. So, who among the remaining Bruins would the front office fight to protect?

For the defensemen, it would be Colin MillerJohn-Michael Liles is on the team as a stop-gap player until the kids coming up are ready. Joe Morrow is still too inexperienced, and Kevan Miller and Adam McQuaid‘s contracts were almost designed to make the Vegas team to balk at the price paid for bottom-pair blueliners.

Colin Miller has the potential to be the next Zdeno Chara. None of the remaining defensemen have that kind of potential in them. Liles is 35, McQuaid and Miller are at the edge of their skill sets, and Morrow is still a questionable commodity. The Bruins are playing the long game, and keeping Colin Miller makes the most sense.

For the forwards, the final ‘safe’ player would be Ryan Spooner. He could be the next Chris Kelly (without the ugly contract and limited scoring) for the Boston Bruins. The B’s have invested too much into the 24-year old forward to give him up to Vegas.

Spooner makes the most amount of sense. Jimmy Hayes had an ugly year in Boston, but if he has a bounce back year, the B’s would be worried about losing the ‘Pride of Dorchester’. (Hopefully, the B’s will stop picking players just because they’re local, gritty guys.) Riley Nash is a two-year deal player that seems to be in the same boat as Khudobin, a modestly priced secondary player that could be useful on a new team.

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As for the rest, Noel Acciari and Tyler Randell are still too much of an unknown for the Vegas team to cash in on.

So now, it comes down to what the Black Knights will need for the 2017-18 season.

If Team Vegas is looking for a forward, they’re likely to grab Jimmy Hayes. If he has a solid season, he’ll certainly be more valuable.  He has the size to be an imposing player, and a new start on a new team could be just what he needs to live up to his potential.

Now if the If Black Knights are shopping for a defenseman, we could get very lucky. Team Vegas would be looking for a blueliner that can be physical and show good numbers. This means the Black Knights would choose Kevan Miller.

Now if this happens, Team Vegas would be doing the Bruins a solid favor going into the 2018-19 season. I could be wrong but the Bruins seem to have been pumping K. Miller’s tires, perhaps showcasing him to make the 29-year old blueliner more attractive to Vegas. Don Sweeney even stated that he was one of their best players at the end of the season media conference.

The Vegas team will be looking for goaltenders, that’s for certain. The Bruins could lose Malcolm Subban in the expansion draft. The only thing that makes me question this is the actions of the Bruins front office. I might be off, but it seems they’re given Subban little press as of late. It’s almost if the B’s are purposely under-valuing the 22-year old netminder. That might have been the B’s plan (and it’s a good one if Subban can be to goaltending what his brother is to defensemen) with bringing in Khudobin all along.

In the end, it comes down to the Black Knights’ front office. Whoever ends up as their GM will have to put together enough quality players to make the 31st team in the NHL dangerous right out of the gates.  For them, it’s all about putting together all the right pieces.  Hopefully, the Bruins won’t lose any important parts to their Black and Gold puzzle because of it.