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As the Seattle Kraken 2021 Expansion Draft slowly approaches, the Kings are faced with some tough decisions on which players to protect.
It can’t be easy for an organization to let go of players they’ve become attached to – especially during a rebuild. As we know, however, this isn’t the first time the Kings have had to give up a player to an expansion team.

The Vegas Golden Knights ended up drafting defenseman Brayden McNabb from the Kings in 2017 just one year into his new two-year deal with the organization.

The defenseman had spent three seasons with the Kings, scoring 42 points including six goals and 36 assists. He also tallied 491 hits during that time. It clearly wasn’t easy parting ways with a consistent player like McNabb.


The Seattle draft will run under the same rules as the expansion draft in 2017. Seattle must choose a minimum of 20 players or a maximum of 30, one player from each team excluding the Vegas Golden Knights, to fill in their roster of 14 forwards, nine defensemen, and three goalies.

Each team can protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goaltender – or eight skaters and one goalie. Players with no-movement clauses in their contracts, first-year players, second-year players, and unsigned draft picks are also exempt.


The Kings or Kings organization players that are currently ineligible for the draft are:

Forwards

  • Quinton Byfield
  • Jaret-Anderson Dolan
  • Aidan Dudas
  • Sammy Fagemo
  • Arthur Kaliyev
  • Rasmus Kupari
  • Tyler Madden
  • Akil Thomas
  • Alex Turcotte
  • Gabe Vilardi

Defensemen

  • Mikey Anderson
  • Tobias Bjornfot
  • Sean Durzi
  • Cole Hults
  • Kim Nousiainen
  • Jordan Spence
  • Drew Doughty, who has a no-trade clause and can only be drafted if he decides to waive it

Kings fans should feel confident about the future after seeing this list. Many of these names will be on the roster in just a few short years. Unfortunately, it may be at the expense of a veteran – a player that can provide these prospects with growth.


Who are the players not exempt from the draft?

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In 2017, the Kings protected forwards Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Tanner Pearson, and Tyler Toffoli along with defensemen Drew Doughty, Derek Forbort, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin, and goalie Jonathan Quick.

But that was 2017, the last year they made the playoffs.

Things are different now that they haven’t made the postseason in two years. And not only are some of those players on different teams but some of them will not be protected.


The eligible players for the Draft are:

Forward

  • Michael Amadio
  • Lias Andersson
  • Dustin Brown
  • Jeff Carter
  • Mikey Eyssimont
  • Martin Frk
  • Carl Grundstrom
  • Alex Iafallo
  • Adrian Kempe
  • Anze Kopitar
  • Blake Lizotte
  • Matt Luff
  • Trevor Moore
  • Austin Wagner

Defensemen

  • Kale Clague
  • Drew Doughty
  • Kurtis MacDermid
  • Olli Maatta
  • Jacob Moverare
  • Matt Roy
  • Austin Strand
  • Sean Walker

Goaltenders

  • Jonathan Quick
  • Cal Petersen

Who will the Kings protect from the draft?

With all the prospects making their way up the ropes, it would make sense that the Kings would keep the veterans that make the biggest impact on the young players, but it’s hard to predict who’s safe during a rebuild.

There are a lot of young players already on the team, so space is limited to those that are likely to be around for a while.


Assuming that the Kings take a similar path to 2017, this is who will be on the list:

Forwards

  • Anze Kopitar
  • Lias Andersson
  • Martin Frk
  • Carl Grundstrom
  • Alex Iafallo
  • Adrian Kempe
  • Blake Lizotte

Defensemen

  • Kale Clague
  • Sean Walker
  • Matt Roy

Goaltender

  • Cal Petersen

A few notable players left off the list like Doughty (who is exempt due to his no-trade clause), Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, and Jonathan Quick are all inching towards the back end of their careers. Brown and Carter are both 36 years old and with Kopitar likely to be on the protection list, it’s unlikely the Kings will feel the need to protect those two.

Brown was also left off the list in 2017. Jonathan Quick is also at the back end of his career at 35 years of age. Cal Petersen is the logical next step to replace Quick in goal as Petersen only gets better with every game he plays.


If the Kraken decide to take a King, what’s the draft prediction?

  • Defenseman Olli Maatta

Maatta is a proven young defenseman but has had a hard time meshing with the Kings since his trade from the Chicago Blackhawks in October of 2020. He started the 2021 season with a minus-one rating, no points, and only 7 shots on goal. The defenseman was benched in back-to-back games against the St. Louis Blues in January and if he can’t turn his performance around in time, the Kings likely won’t protect him. This leaves him to be one of the more desirable players eligible for the draft.

Only one player will be drafted from the Kings but the Kraken wants to make an impact right away – similar to what the Golden Knights did their first year. It’s a fair assumption that the Kraken will stay away from the older veterans and go after someone who can give them a few years of consistent playing time.


Whoever Seattle takes, will have to face their division rivals from Los Angeles that has greatness waiting in the wings.

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