Projecting The Capitals Expansion Draft Protection List
I hope everyone is doing well! Today we are going to take a look at potential scenarios for the Capitals as it relates to the Seattle Kraken expansion Draft.
The Rules for the Draft (which I’m sure you know by now):
Teams can protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie. The Capitals will likely align their protection list to these rules so I wont really dive in on any of the other wrinkles in the protection rules.
My Projected List for the Capitals:
1. Nicklas Backstrom
2. Tom Wilson
3. Evgeny Kuznetsov
4. T.J. Oshie
5. Anthony Mantha
6. Lars Eller
7. Daniel Sprong
1. John Carlson
2. Justin Schultz
3. Dmitry Orlov
1. Ilya Samsonov
Things to Note:
1. Ovechkin– I left Ovechkin unprotected as he is a pending UFA. Ovechkin is technically still under contract until July 28th. The expansion draft is July 21st. The Capitals can leave Ovechkin unprotected and protect an additional forward. Expect Ovechkin to sign his next contract with the Capitals somewhere between July 22nd-July 27th.
2. Forwards– The first six I have listed are pretty obvious imo. The 7th protected forward was a little more tricky. The remaining three guys that are worth protecting after the first six are Dowd, Sprong, and Sheary. I originally went with protecting Nic Dowd but after looking at some analytics, I shifted to Sprong. Sprong is 24, Sheary is 29, and Nic Dowd is 31. The case can really be made for any of these guys to be protected. Sprong was an elite scorer last season and still has much more to give. According to NHL.com/stats, Sprong was 2nd best in the league at 5v5 in goals/60minutes played with 1.70. The only other skater in the league who was better than Sprong was Auston Matthews (1.90). In third place was (gulp) Jakub Vrana with 1.68 G/60. Sprong very much flew under the radar last season in my opinion. While he was not perfect, I think Sprong has finally found a home in D.C. I absolutely love what Sheary and Dowd are doing for the Caps right now, but I love what Sprong brings to the team even more. I think there is more than enough of an argument to protect Nic Dowd. The guy is a beast on faceoffs and can shutdown almost any other teams top line. The only reason I am leaning towards not protecting Dowd is his age. Dowd is 31 and Sprong is 24. If things keep trending well for Sprong, he could easily be a part of the post Ovechkin era future.
3. Defense – I think these three are pretty straight forward. Carlson and Schultz are one and two. It came down to Orlov, Dillon, and Jensen. Orlov had one his best seasons ever and is considered an ironman on the ice. Prior to getting placed on COVID protocol this season, Orlov was riding a 401 consecutive game streak. Factoring in his durability and recent production both offensively and defensively, I chose Orlov. Dillon takes way too many penalties and is just an average defender. Jensen has improved but is he worth protecting? I like the youth in the pipelines for the Capitals on defense (Fehervary and Alexeyev), and other guys like TVR or Kempny can fill in assuming they will not be selected. I would be pretty sad to lose Orlov in the draft I would not hurt as bad if we lost Dillon or Jensen.
So who do I project the Kraken to select? Nic Dowd, C !!!!!!– Dowd can easily play above the 4th line but the Capitals are loaded so he sits on the 4th. He is a great locker room guy and just full of tons of positive energy. He is a beast on the faceoffs and crushes it defensively. He has Seattle Kraken energy written all over him.
My next piece will directly touch on the Capitals goaltending situation both as it relates to the draft and pending UFAs they may or may not target in free agency.
Have a great evening everyone thanks for reading and GO CAPS