The Seattle expansion draft is over a year away, but it’s not too early to predict what the Vancouver Canucks will do.
In the 2017 Vegas expansion draft, the Vancouver Canucks lost veteran defenceman Luca Sbisa, who wasn’t exactly part of their long-term plans.
But looking ahead to the 2021 Seattle expansion draft, there’s a good chance that Vancouver loses a key impact player. That is, unless general manager Jim Benning is willing to surrender young prospects and draft picks in exchange for Seattle staying away from certain players.
That wouldn’t be ideal, however. We saw the Golden Knights quickly morph into a legitimate championship contender — reaching the Stanley Cup Final in their inaugural season — thanks to all the key roster players and trade chips they acquired at the expansion draft.
The 2021 expansion draft will follow the same template used for Vegas. Teams can protect seven forwards, three blueliners and a goalie or eight skaters and one goalie.
Here are some early predictions on who Benning will look to protect.
The first four are players listed above are easy choices.
I’m expecting Virtanen (a pending RFA) to sign a new multi-year deal this offseason. As I wrote about here, the Canucks should look to extend Pearson in the offseason. Gaudette is also a relatively easy choice to protect.
Brandon Sutter‘s contract comes off the books after next season, so the Canucks won’t have to protect him here. If the Canucks still have Loui Eriksson on their roster at next year’s draft, I’m expecting a buyout.
As Patrick Johnston of the Vancouver Province previously noted, Micheal Ferland only has a full no-trade clause for the first two seasons, and he apparently “agreed to be exposed.” Given his injury history, I doubt the Canucks will use a protection slot on him.
Things can always change, but if the roster doesn’t change much between now and the expansion draft, Ferland and Antoine Roussel are the best forward options for Seattle.