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NHL Expansion: What would it mean for the Pittsburgh Penguins

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The NHL might be expanding soon, let's check out what an expansion draft would mean for the Pittsburgh Penguins

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

NHL expansion is probably coming sooner than later. What will it mean for the Penguins?

From the good Pierre:

lebrunpens31616

And Dregs

That doesn't quite make sense, and in the rush to tweet against all the other reporters, I assume he made a typo and meant either 3D+7F+0G or 8 skaters + 1G, which makes sense with how the NHL has had previous drafts.

So, going off this, the following notable players would be exempt from a potential expansion draft this summer:

  • Forwards: Daniel Sprong, Oskar Sundqvist, Dominik Simon, Conor Sheary
  • Defensemen: Derrick Pouliot
  • Goaltenders: Matt Murray, Tristan Jarry

So who should the Pens protect?

Well, it's probably a good idea to keep Marc-Andre Fleury and select 8 more skaters to keep off limits. The other way to keep 10 skaters doesn't really benefit the Penguins asset wise to lose Fleury at the expense of keeping 2 extra forwards.

No-brainers:

  • Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Olli Maatta

Probables (and our choices)

  • Brian Dumoulin, Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, Carl Hagelin

Open for selection:

  • Chris Kunitz, Nick Bonino, Eric Fehr, Bryan Rust, Scott Wilson, Tom Kuhnhackl, Trevor Daley, Ian Cole, Beau Bennett (RFA), Justin Schultz (RFA)

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Thoughts?

There certainly could be the opportunity to walk away from the Kessel salary cap hit, but that seems short-sighted after one down year,. Just as it wouldn't have been smart to get rid of Sergei Gonchar or Paul Martin after their first less-than-great season in Pittsburgh, washing hands of Kessel (after giving up 2 first round picks to acquire him) would be a poisonous pill.

I could see arguments to keep Kunitz (only 1 year left on contract) over Hagelin, especially if expansion is 2 teams and team would lose 2 players. Otherwise, there's not a lot to sweat losing. It stinks to have to lose a player for nothing, but the unprotected list wouldn't hurt all that much.

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We'll see what becomes of expansion draft and whether or not it happens, but it's always fun on an off-day to think about what could happen.