The 2021 NHL Expansion Draft is less than two weeks away. The Seattle Kraken will be making their selections from 30 NHL clubs with the Vegas Golden Knights excepted. As the Stanley Cup will be awarded no later than Sunday July 11, general managers and teams around the league are no doubt hyper-focused on expansion draft preparation—Flames’ GM Brad Treliving among them.
As it stands, the Flames have their expansion protection list basically decided, and have just one major protection decision left on defense. However, there is more business Treliving will have to complete in advance of the expansion draft.
The Flames’ expansion draft protection list
The Flames will almost certainly go with the 7-3-1 protection approach and opt to protect these players:
Goal: Jacob Markstrom
That’s half the battle, and it’s nice that the Flames are mostly set for this part of the expansion draft, with just one big decision left regarding their captain.
On the other side of the coin, there are exposure requirements that the Flames need to satisfy. There are specific players each team needs to have available for selection based on position as follows:
Skaters: Each team must expose at least two (2) forwards and one (1) defenseman that are under contract for the 2021–22 season with either 27 NHL games played in the 2020–21 season or 54 NHL games played in the past two seasons (2019–20 to 2020–21).
Goaltenders: Each team must expose one (1) goalie that is under contract for the 2021–22 season or whose contract is expiring but is a restricted free agent (RFA) upon expiry.
The Flames’ situation at forward
The Flames only have two forwards under contract next season who have NHL experience and are not being protected in the expansion draft: Byron Froese and Milan Lucic. Unfortunately, Froese doesn’t meet the games played requirements having just six NHL games the past two seasons combined.
Thankfully for the Flames, Milan Lucic has opted to waive his no-movement clause (NMC), and can be exposed in the upcoming draft.
Between now and July 17th, the Flames need to sign one forward that meets the minimum games played requirement, but because free agency doesn’t open until 10 days after the expansion draft, the Flames need to either sign a player already in their system or make a trade.
The best case scenario here is the Flames re-signing Ryan, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see them sign Ritchie or Leivo as well.
The Flames’ situation on defense
In terms of defense, the Flames will either be exposing Tanev or Giordano, both of whom satisfy the exposure requirements. Nothing to worry about on the blueline—at least when it comes to fulfilling said requirements.
The Flames’ situation in goal
In goal, the Flames only have two goalies under contract for next season, Markstrom and Dustin Wolf. Of course, Wolf is exempt from the expansion draft, so he isn’t able to satisfy exposure requirements (thankfully). Louis Domingue is a pending UFA and it’s doubtful he’ll be re-signed to be the backup behind Markstrom.
However, they do have two goalies who are pending RFAs, Tyler Parsons and Arytom Zagidulin. Either of these goalies would satisfy the exposure minimum requirements, provided the Flames extend a qualifying offer to at least one of them before submitting their protection list to the league.
From chatter amongst Flames reporters, it seems like Zagidulin may be headed back to Russia for next season, so Parsons would be the one to receive a qualifying offer. Despite his struggles since being drafted, he still has high potential and there really isn’t any harm in giving him one more year to prove himself in the AHL.
In all likelihood, the Flames will roll with Wolf and Parsons in the AHL next season, but they may sign another depth goalie to help push the youngsters and fill out organizational depth in the ECHL. For goalies, the Flames don’t have big issues heading into the expansion draft, but they do need to extend a qualifying offer to Parsons in the next 11 days.
The Flames are fortunate to be in a fairly good spot heading into the expansion draft. There are three pieces of business remaining on their to-do list before the Seattle Kraken come to fruition:
- Decide who to protect on defense between Tanev and Giordano
- Sign a forward among Simon, Leivo, Ryan, and Ritchie
- Extend a qualifying offer to Parsons
It’s fairly straightforward for the Flames, making expansion draft preparations a little easier compared to other teams. Once these three items are crossed off the list, the Flames will be ready for the expansion draft. All that’s left is seeing who the Kraken will select from Calgary.