With news of NHL expansion emerging from the GM meetings on Wednesday, I canvassed Sens Twitter for their list of protection-worthy skaters if/when expansion happens in the NHL. I received 29 responses in total – here I’ll share the results of the ballots cast.
Before we dig in, here are the rules people were working with, as per Dreger:
Expansion draft potential. Each team has option of protecting 3d, 7F and I goalie or 8 skaters +1 goalie. Expansion determined before draft
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) March 16, 2016
Most people went with option a), though a couple of participants did choose 8 skaters + 1 goalie.
A note on my extremely simple process. I recorded one vote for each person named. If someone named six skaters (instead of seven) or didn’t name a goalie, I didn’t record a vote. The sample size here is obviously small so take results with all necessary grains of salt and enjoy the process at work here.
For simplicity’s sake, I’ve assumed the Sens will go with option a) and keep 3D, 7F, and 1G.
Crowdsourced Sens Expansion Protected Players List
*here’s the link to my tableau page. If you follow, you can hover over the individual players to see their voting percentages, etc…
To no one’s surprise, Erik Karlsson was protected by every voter. As the game’s best defensemen, this makes perfect sense. Moving along…
Mark Stone has won over the hearts of Ottawa Senators fans with excellent, heady play over the past two years. He was a unanimous choice for protection and a no-brainer pick for all responders.
Interestingly, Kyle Turris was a unanimous selection. He’s an obvious keeper in an expansion situation but not a single voter deviated from the script. Turris doesn’t make headlines but the fans that responded here showed that his contributions are appreciated. I wonder if the 100% support for Turris would continue if this sample was much larger.
The Sens’ protected list starts with the core of Karlsson (D1), Stone (F1), and Turris (F2).
After the unanimous choices, three skaters received more than 90% support from voters – Mika Zibanejad, Mike Hoffman, and JG Pageau.
Though sometimes criticized for his inconsistent play, fans here recognized that the still-young “Z-bad” is good enough to remain as part of this team’s core. The soon-to-be 23 year-old may continue to develop. Even if this is the ceiling, a 50-point second-line centre is very valuable. He stays.
And although Hoffman often finds himself in and out of HC Dave Cameron’s doghouse, fans here recognized that 30 goal scorers are very difficult to find. He should be a unanimous choice, I feel, but it was pretty close.
Pageau has become an extremely popular player for the Senators. Late game heroics, speed, effort-filled play, and the hometown-kid effect have earned the young forward a cult following. He was included in 93% of all ballots cast, making him part of the top six choices in this poll.
Add: Zibanejad (F3), Hoffman (F4), and Pageau (F5) to the protected list.
Best of the Rest
The remaining players on the protection list were included on between ~60% and ~80% of all ballots.
Cody Ceci has impressed Sens fans enough to be included as the second defensemen on the protection list. It’s worth noting that a number of voters mentioned that Ceci was wise to keep as trade bait.
Marc Methot edged out Patrick Wiercioch for the third defenseman spot. Though Methot was loved last season, his injuries and struggles this season have done enough to worry Ottawa fans. He was included in just 59% of all voter ballots. It was enough…but barely.
Curtis Lazar and Bobby Ryan round out the forward ranks. Lazar was generally included on most ballots. He’s a young forward with lots of potential, so that makes sense.
Ryan’s inclusion is more controversial. The potential to unload his huge contract was enough for about 40% of voters to leave him out completely. Still, without tons of forwards depth, Ryan warranted inclusion on most protection lists.
Last, despite a smattering of support for Andrew Hammond, about 75% of ballots cast included Craig Anderson as the team’s goalie. Some commenters noted that his age is a worry. Still, Ottawa supporters spoke in favour of the generally consistent netminder. He stays.
Round out the protected list with: Ceci (D2), Methot (D3), Lazar (F6), Ryan (F7), and Anderson (G1).
Clarke MacArthur, Patrick Wiercioch, Zack Smith, and a number of other skaters garnered some support from voters. In the end, it wasn’t enough to make the protected list. MacArthur’s injury scared many, Wiercioch continues to be under-appreciated, and fans expressed some wariness about Smith’s long-term scoring potential. Any of these three would be prime candidates for an expansion pick.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to fill this out and share their thoughts. If you don’t agree with the choices (or the way I’ve summarized the choices) please voice your thinking in the comments below!