The Maven just finished perusing the NHL Expansion Draft Protected List and I did quite a bit of gulping here and there.
Not that I blame any of the following — Jeff Gorton, Garth Snow, Ray Shero, Jason Botterill — for leaving some of my personal favorites in the “available” category.
I know that they had to conform with the rules and — very likely — already are contriving side deals to eventually keep the “available” on their roster.
Still, I have a constitutional right to react, so here goes:
1. JESPER FAST: Love that man and I still believe he’ll be with the club when he’s good and healthy again. He was one of the most consistent forwards when it counted most in the playoffs.
2. TANNER GLASS: Alright, I know that he doesn’t top the talent list. But we now know that every club will need a toughie next season. Please don’t forget the big playoff goal he had against the Habs.
3. MICHAEL GRABNER: Lobbying for this guy all spring, I still say that someone who’s their second leading goal scorer, one of best penalty-killers and who delivered consistently in the playoffs is my kind of hockey player.
4. OSCAR LINDBERG: If there was one, he could win “The Most Underrated Ranger” award.
5. BRENDAN SMITH: This wonderful late-season acquisition filled in where Kevin Klein did not. A lot of other teams like him as much as The Maven does.
6. ANTTI RAANTA: Rangers fans should just hope that, somehow, the fine Finn is back.
1. JOSH BAILEY: When I saw his name atop the Isles list, I did a double-take. But, yet, John Tavares‘ lineman and pal is there and followed by a few other notables.
2. CASEY CIZIKAS: Mister Hustle is a fan favorite for good reason. But injuries may have affected this choice. Not sure.
3. CAL CLUTTERBUCK: Same as Cizikas.
4. BROCK NELSON: For a few seasons we’ve said the potential is large and the goals have come but the consistency is a rung or two below. So, there he is.
5. RYAN STROME: See Nelson.
6. CALVIN de HAAN: If I was surprised seeing Bailey’s name on this list, Cal’s gave me — not a double-take — a triple-take. Ergo: We shall see.
7. THOMAS HICKEY: Liking the guy — as I do — is one thing but this past season was hardly a showroom campaign for Tommy.
8. JAROSLAV HALAK: We all knew it would be Jaro or Thomas Greiss. Halak lost.
1. MICHAEL CAMMALLERI: Not a surprise so why am I even mentioning Mike? Well, he once was a rousing red light man. He’s here for sentimental reasons.
2. JACOB JOSEFSON: The hoped-for potential has never been realized. That and a spate of injuries ensured him making this collection.
3. BEN LOVEJOY: Looking backward, Lovejoy once was thought of as the Adam Larsson replacement alongside captain Andy Greene. Didn’t work out quite as well as envisioned.
4. JON MERRILL: No question, Jonny produced a solid comeback in 2016-17. That said, it wasn’t quite enough to make the coveted protected list.
1. BRIAN GIONTA: This figured because the captain is getting a lot of dough while also getting older and less productive. Not at all a surprise.
2. MATT MOULSON: See Gionta.
3. CAL O’REILLY: Too bad his name isn’t Ryan.
4. ZACH BOGOSIAN: He’s a buddy of my buddy Nick Slade. Thus, I always root for hockey players out of ‘way, ‘way upstate Massena, New York. Hope he’s back.
As for those who have been protected, I was surprised at a few.
1. NICK HOLDEN: Management saw what The Maven saw; a prize get who’ll get better as he attunes to the Alain Vigneault style.
2. MARC STAAL: It was going to be either Dan Girardi or Staal and Marc got the nod. Hope he stays healthy.
[Fischler: An Ode to Dan Girardi]
1. ADAM PELECH: I figured that either Ryan Pulock or Pelech would be protected but not both. Both young; both promising. Nice!
1. MIRCO MUELLER: Only because he just arrived in a trade do I put this new-name defenseman on the pad.
2. JOHN MOORE: The “Big Noise From Winnetka,” (as in Illinois as well as the song) is a personal fave of The Maven. Wasn’t so sure the same held for Ray Shero. Glad it did.
1. KYLE OKPOSO: The only reason this old pal is here is that I’m tickled that the ex-Islander is recovered from an ailment that had a lot of us worried.
2. JAKE MCCABE: He grew into his defensive role as a rookie two seasons ago but I wasn’t sure what the new general staff thought about him. He’ll keep growing.