The Dallas Stars announced today the re-signing of veteran forward, Blake Comeau, to a one year, $1 million contract. The move helps the Stars make their exposure requirements for the upcoming expansion draft this summer when the Seattle Kraken join the league as the 32nd team.
As a refresher, the rules for the expansion draft say that, at minimum, teams must expose:
- One blueliner that is under contract for the 2021-2022 season and played in at least 40 NHL games in the 2020-2021 season OR has played in at least 70 NHL games between 2019-2020 and 2020-2021.
- Two forwards that are under contract for the 2021-2022 season and played in at least 40 NHL games in the 2020-2021 season OR has played in at least 70 NHL games between 2019-2020 and 2020-2021.
- One goalie that is under contract for the 2020-2021 season or will be a restricted free agent this summer. If a RFA goaltender is made available for expansion draft selection, the player has to be qualified prior to submission of the team’s protected list.
- All players with no-movement clauses that they choose not to waive must be protected.
- All first- and second-year players as well as unsigned draft picks do not have to be exposed and do not count towards the protection limit.
NHL teams can choose to protect a certain number of players from Seattle, depending on the configuration that works best for them. A team can choose to protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie OR eight skaters (between forwards or defensemen) and a goalie.
Based on these rules, Dallas lacked enough forwards to expose in the expansion draft prior to Comeau’s signing.
After protections for no-move clauses (Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, and Alexander Radulov) and players exempt based on games played or year of service (Jason Robertson, Joel Kiviranta, Nicholas Caamano, Joe L’Esperance), that left Joe Pavelski, Roope Hintz, Denis Gurianov, Radek Faksa, and Tanner Kero as the only forwards signed with enough games played to expose in the expansion draft.
Obviously, the team would want to protect Hintz, Gurianov, and now Pavelski (he’s been too good to lose him and still be actual threats to contend next season without a serious move made to acquire what he brings to the lineup.) That means one of Faksa, Dickinson, or Kero would be protected, and with the other two exposed, that’s still one short of the three forwards the team needed to make available.
That’s why the Comeau signing makes absolute sense. If he’s not drafted by the Kraken (which seems like a reasonable assumption, honestly, given the other forwards that are likely to be available), it’s not an outrageous cap hit that he will impact the team too much this year. With Andrew Cogliano likely hitting the free agency market, the team was going to lose most of its key penalty killers from the last couple of seasons. This way, they can retain some of that veteran experience but on a cap hit that wouldn’t preclude the team from putting a rookie that steps up to the plate and takes on that role in-season.
Reading between all the tea leaves, this likely puts Dallas’ protection list something like this: