Who the Toronto Maple Leafs Might Protect in Expansion Draft

Toronto Maple Leafs - Zach Hyman (#11) Greg McKegg (#41) (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs - Zach Hyman (#11) Greg McKegg (#41) (Photo by Eliot J. Schechter/NHLI via Getty Images) /

The Toronto Maple Leafs will have to consider the expansion draft in all their moves from  now on.

With Seattle set to begin play in 2021-2022, the Toronto Maple Leafs need to be cognizant of the expansion draft that will occur next summer when they make their moves this off-season.

The rules are the same as last time. 

This means that the Leafs can protect three defenseman, seven forwards and a goalie, or they can protect eight combined players of any position plus one goalie.

Basically, if you want to protect four defensemen, or eight forwards, you can, but it will cost you have to then protect two less players overall.

This is to ensure that Seattle can at least select from some top-four defensemen.

Toronto Maple Leafs Expansion Draft Protection

All players on entry-level deals are safe and do not need protection.

That means that the Toronto Maple Leafs can keep Nick Robertson, Timothy Liljegren and Rasmus Sandin without worry.

Some players are obvious, and it makes sense to list them before we figure which protection option (10 set position players, or 9 players of any position) is the correct one for them.

The obvious protected players are Auston Matthews, William Nylander, John Tavares, Mitch Marner, Morgan Rielly and Freddie Andersen.

That is five players and a goalie.

The Leafs could then protect three more forwards and two more defensemen.

Or they could choose to protect three more defensemen and no more forwards.

Under the latter option, the Leafs could protect Justin Holl, Travis Dermott and Jake Muzzin, along with the ‘Big Four’ forwards.

This would leave the likes of Kapanen, Johnsson, Kerfoot, Mikheyev, Engvall and Hyman exposed.

That seems like a pretty risky strategy.

Better to protect only three defenseman and two extra players.

Under the obviously better strategy, the Toronto Maple Leafs would protect three more forwards and two more defensemen.

I am going to have to make a few assumptions in order to guess who might be protected a year from now: 1) both Johnsson and Kapanen get moved in trades.  2) Mikheyev and Hyman both re-sign.  3) Andersen is re-signed.

So let’s say it’s Hyman, Kerfoot and Mikheyev on forward, and Dermott and Muzzin on defense.

That means the Leafs would be leaving Pierre Engvall and Justin Holl exposed.  I like both players, but that isn’t too rough.

Of course, the real trouble comes if the Leafs somehow keep their team together and have to decide between protecting Johnsson, Kapanen, Mikheyev, Kerfoot and Hyman. 

Next. 5 Goalies Who the Leafs Could Use to Replace Freddie Andersen. dark

Or on defense, if they somehow pick up a big-name defender for the right side, they could be forced into exposing Dermott or Muzzin.

Either way, it should be fun to speculate on until it happens.