The Habs will be submitting their protected list for the upcoming Expansion Draft to the league on Saturday. Our writers have made their picks for which players should be on that list.
Each writer was asked to submit their list and the players with the most votes comprising the players on our consensus list. Writers were given the chance to pick their protection scheme (7/3/1 or 8/1) but all chose the former as expected. Without further ado, here’s the list:
Carey Price – This one’s a no-brainer. He’s the franchise player and has a no-move clause anyways. There’s no point in discussing this one further.
Shea Weber – Given the nine years left on Weber’s contract, it’s not a guarantee that the Golden Knights would take him if he were to be made available. However, leaving him exposed would be a big risk and one that none of our writers were willing to take. In all likelihood, GM Marc Bergevin won’t either.
Jeff Petry – He’s the other guaranteed-protected player thanks to a no-move clause. The Habs announced on their website earlier this month that he wouldn’t be approached about waiving it either.
Jordie Benn – Unsurprisingly, this was the tightest spot in the voting. Benn acquitted himself very well after being acquired and with two years left on a cheap deal, he is a real asset for a team that is likely looking to lower their spending on the blueline.
None of the other blueliners eligible for selection (including Brandon Davidson, Alexei Emelin, and an unsigned Andrei Markov, among others) received any votes.
Max Pacioretty – Despite a less-than-stellar postseason, Pacioretty’s inclusion was pretty much obvious. He’s the captain, has two years left on a team-friendly contract, and has led the team in scoring for six straight seasons. They’re not risking losing him for nothing.
Jonathan Drouin – After what they gave up to get him, he’s a lock to be protected.
Alex Galchenyuk – While his future with the Habs beyond the next week is rather murky, he’s too valuable of an asset (and trade chip) to leave him exposed.
Brendan Gallagher – There is legitimate concern about the long-term health of his wrist after a down season but between his contract and past production, he’s not the type of player that the Habs will want to risk losing here.
Paul Byron – What a difference a year makes. At this point last offseason, he was a near-lock to be left unprotected. Now, he was a unanimous pick to be protected. While no one expects him to match his production from this season in 2017-18, he still brings enough to the table to be worth keeping around.
Phillip Danault – While no one truly believes Danault is a number one centre like he was being used down the stretch, he still slots in as a middle six forward for several years to come which makes him someone that Bergevin will want to keep around.
Andrew Shaw – While his contract isn’t exactly a bargain, Montreal is only one year removed from dealing two second rounders for Shaw and to turn around and then lose him for nothing would be tough to swallow. He’s the one forward whose inclusion here was not a unanimous one.
Charles Hudon was on the original version of this list before the Drouin deal and even after it, some writers still had him on there in place of Shaw. His new two year contract actually makes him more enticing to Vegas as a player now locked in at the league minimum for two more years.
A trio of other players garnered at least one vote at some point in the process. Although Alexander Radulov is unrestricted, keeping his negotiating rights away from Vegas GM George McPhee who will likely up the ante has some value. Tomas Plekanec had support from multiple writers and nearly beat out Hudon for the last spot before Thursday’s trade while Jacob de la Rose also was deemed worthy of keeping by one writer. While his upside is limited, a potentially sound defensive centre with size and four years of team control is certainly still a serviceable asset.
The Canadiens must submit their list to the league by 5 PM EST on Saturday. The list will then go for league approval and assuming everything passes muster, it will be revealed at 10 AM EST on Sunday.