Who the Toronto Maple Leafs will Protect and Lose
We already know that Tavares needs to be on this list. That leaves either six more forwards and three defensemen or just seven other skaters depending on the model the Leafs choose. There is no doubt that the Maple Leafs will also protect Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander from their forward group. If these four forwards are the only ones Toronto wants to protect, it then leaves four defensemen to shield. Those would likely be Morgan Rielly, Jake Muzzin, TJ Brodie, and then one of Travis Dermott or Justin Holl.
Most likely, Dubas will end up protecting seven forwards and three defensemen, which would mean that there’s a good chance that Alex Kerfoot and two re-signed forwards get left off the list of available players. Unfortunately, it would mean that both Justin Holl and Dermott get exposed to the Kraken. If that were to happen, Seattle would happily take one of the two of them.
Dermott seems like the easy choice of the pair being four years younger than Holl with a higher upside. It could turn out to be Holl getting plucked if he repeats what he did season. The Kraken are also aware that Dermott is set to become a restricted free agent, which means that Toronto could potentially re-sign and overpay the defender to a degree that becomes unappealing for Seattle.
With there being a good chance that valuable defenders like Dermott and Holl are left exposed, the Toronto Maple Leafs won’t need to be as concerned about which goaltender is available for the expansion draft since they will only lose one player to the process.
Since Andersen is set to become an unrestricted free agent, he doesn’t need to be a concern at this time for Toronto. Ideally, he re-signs with the team, which would then mean he gets protected. Both Jack Campbell and Michael Hutchinson would then become available in the draft. If Andersen doesn’t return to the Toronto Maple Leafs, they would then protect Campbell and expose Hutchinson.
Whether Andersen is in the mix or not won’t matter. As mentioned, leaving Demott and Holl exposed will set up a debate in Seattle’s camp on which of those two to take. They would certainly look elsewhere to find a capable stopper. The odds of the Leafs losing a defenseman over a goaltender are much better than the team’s overall chances at capturing this year’s Cup.
Let’s not forget that with a full season to play, anything can change. There could be some big trades, injuries, great and/or awful individual seasons that completely change these plans. At this early juncture, before we learn of any significant changes, you can expect to see a talented player on their way to join Seattle for their inaugural season.