Ducks leave Sami Vatanen, Josh Manson unprotected

Anaheim Ducks left wing Patrick Maroon (19) celebrates his goal against against the Chicago Blackhawks with center Ryan Getzlaf (15) and defenseman Sami Vatanen (45) during the second period in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs, Wednesday, May 27, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
Anaheim Ducks left wing Patrick Maroon (19) celebrates his goal against against the Chicago Blackhawks with center Ryan Getzlaf (15) and defenseman Sami Vatanen (45) during the second period in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup playoffs, Wednesday, May 27, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)

There were no surprises for the Ducks when it came to the players they protected from the upcoming NHL expansion draft and those who were left exposed for the incoming Vegas Golden Knights to consider adding when it comes to building their roster.

Protected lists were revealed Sunday and the Ducks went with the option of keeping seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie off limits. And that meant key two-way winger Jakob Silfverberg is off limits as well as Rickard Rakell, who led them with a career-high 33 goals last season.

Keeping more forwards also left more defensemen available and that means Sami Vatanen and Josh Manson were left exposed. Those two will cause consternation among the fan base, especially with Manson as a 25-year-old shutdown defender that’s cost efficient for now with upside.

Barring a major surprise, the Ducks don’t count on losing Vatanen or Manson. Ducks general manager Bob Murray is believed to have worked out a deal with the Golden Knights so that neither will be selected by them. Vegas will reveal its picks during the NHL’s awards show Wednesday night.

Only one player will be taken from each team. The Ducks couldn’t lock up all of their prized assets due to the two protection options available to them. While there was much speculation about Vatanen’s future, the Ducks did not move him before Saturday’s league-wide trade freeze.

Feeling that teams would view them as a team in a bind to keep their assets, the Ducks are believed to have worked out a deal that allowed them to hold onto Vatanen – if to keep long term or later trade for a roster-ready impact forward. Vatanen is signed for three more seasons at a $4.875 million salary cap hit.

To get Vegas GM George McPhee to take another player than the two talented defenders, Murray will likely have given up a lot – possibly a good, young defensive prospect and a high-round draft pick. Neither side will reveal the specifics in the deal that’s expected to have been consummated.

The Ducks are stacked on the blue line. Cam Fowler and Hampus Lindholm, two of their cornerstones, were protected. Veteran Kevin Bieksa had to be, as all players with no-movement clauses in their contracts must. Bieksa was reportedly not asked to waive that clause.

Advertisement

As a rookie, Brandon Montour was exempt and didn’t need to be protected. Montour figures to be part of the Ducks’ regular six on the defense corps to start the 2017-18 season.  Other first- and second-year professionals the Ducks didn’t have to worry about were Nick Ritchie, Shea Theodore and Ondrej Kase.

Vegas could have its eyes on someone such as Shea Theodore or one of the other young defensemen in the Ducks’ system. The Ducks do not have a first-round pick in this year’s draft – that went to Dallas in the Patrick Eaves trade – but do have a second-round selection. They have a first-rounder in 2018 that could be in play.

Other teams are likely negotiating with McPhee in order to have him select players other than one they were forced to expose but would like to particularly keep on their rosters. The Columbus Dispatch reported Saturday that the Blue Jackets offered a first-round pick and a prospect to Vegas.

The high-salaried Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler also have no-move clauses in their deals, making it a guarantee that the Ducks would protect their three most accomplished forwards. Rakell figured to be kept off limits no matter what, but they also made clear how much Silfverberg was valued.

Silfverberg, 26, is coming off a season of career bests with 23 goals and 49 points. The right wing, who’s part of the team’s critical shutdown line with Kesler and Andrew Cogliano, is also signed for two more seasons at $3.75 million in each.

Cogliano, a key player for the Ducks the last six seasons, was among the seven forwards protected. Bottom-six center Antoine Vermette was also on the list, with Nate Thompson and Nic Kerdiles left exposed. Kerdiles and Jaycob Megna are unprotected prospects because they have three years of pro experience playing in the American Hockey League.

John Gibson was a no-brainer selection for the Ducks as the one goalie to protect. Other roster players left exposed were defensemen Clayton Stoner and Korbinian Holzer and forwards Logan Shaw, Jared Boll and Chris Wagner.

Eaves and backup goalie Jonathan Bernier are also on the exposed list but they’re also not under contract for next season and due to become unrestricted free agents on July 1. The Ducks could have interest in re-signing both, particularly Eaves following his effective play for them after the trade.

DUCKS LIST FOR NHL EXPANSION DRAFT

Protected

Andrew Cogliano, Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Antoine Vermette, Jakob Silfverberg, Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Kevin Bieksa, John Gibson, Rickard Rakell

Available

Spencer Abbott, Jared Boll, Sam Carrick, Patrick Eaves, Emerson Etem, Ryan Garbutt, Max Gortz, Nic Kerdiles, Andre Pettersson, Logan Shaw, Nick Sorensen, Nate Thompson, Corey Tropp, Chris Wagner, Nate Guenin, Korbinian Holzer, Josh Manson, Jaycob Megna, Jeff Schultz, Clayton Stoner, Sami Vatanen, Jonathan Berner, Jhonas Enroth, Ryan Faragher, Matt Hackett, Dustin Tokarski

Click here to subscribe to Digital & Home Delivery - 50% off