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Projected Protected Devils for the Expansion Draft

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Today we look at who New Jersey could, should, and might protect in the upcoming NHL Expansion Draft.

New York Islanders v New Jersey Devils
Taylor Hall is a certainty to be protected.
Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

While NHL fans won’t be informed of who the Las Vegas Golden Knights draft from each team until the NHL Awards on June 21st, the Expansion Draft itself is looming and will take place from June 18th-20th. Our New Jersey Devils will be losing a player, but the question still remains as to who it is. All teams are allowed to protect a certain number of players following 1 of 2 formats: either 7 forwards, 3 defenders and 1 goaltender, or 8 skaters (in any combination) and 1 goaltender.

We here at AAtJ have looked previously at both the 7-3-1 format courtesy of a very early preview by John (so early that we had 5 players due to be exposed that were traded away/claimed on waivers) and more recently, I looked at the possibility of Jersey going 4-4-1 due to the low number of forwards worth protecting. Today we take a look at some opinions courtesy of myself, John, CJ, Alex and Brian as to who we each would protect, and some justification

Protected Devils

John’s Picks

Format: 8-1

Forwards: Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac

Defensemen: Andy Greene, Ben Lovejoy, Jon Merrill, Damon Severson

Goalie: Cory Schneider

Justification: John was actually recently interviewed about who he would protect in the Expansion Draft; while I have listed his choices, I recommend you watch the following video for his justification, as he effectively lists the benefits of protecting a player or leaving them exposed.

CJ’s Picks

Format: 7-3-1

Forwards: Beau Bennett, Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Jacob Josefson, Stefan Noesen, Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac

Defensemen: Andy Greene, Jon Merrill, Damon Severson

Goalie: Cory Schneider

Justification: “I don't think Josefson will actually make the list, but I've always loved his game -- how he does all the small things well. We are just overflowing with centers at this point though so I could see Cammy getting protected instead. Noesen and Bennett showed some chemistry with Zacha so I think they've earned a shot. Merrill could possibly be swapped out for Moore due to Moore's offensive numbers, but he shouldn't be -- Merrill was better.”

Alex’s Picks

Format: 7-3-1

Forwards: Beau Bennett, Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Jacob Josefson, Stefan Noesen, Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac

Defensemen: Andy Greene, Jon Merrill, Damon Severson

Goalie: Cory Schneider

Justification: “I think it is 7-3-1 as well, and I would actually protect the exact same people CJ mentioned. The one iffy one there is Josefson, but there is literally no one else worth protecting as far as I can tell really. However, I would just prefer to protect Noesen and Bennett as opposed to being able to protect both Moore and Merrill. I have no issue exposing one of them, and honestly I wouldn't care who ends up being exposed between the two. Just don't expose both and protect Lovejoy, that would be dumb in my opinion.”

Brian’s Picks

Format: 7-3-1

Forwards: Beau Bennett, Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Jacob Josefson, Stefan Noesen, Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac

Defensemen: Andy Greene, Jon Merrill, Damon Severson

Goalie: Cory Schneider

Justification: None provided (and that’s my fault for not being specific with my e-mail instructions) but based on his choices, I feel as though Brian would echo the sentiments of Alex and CJ.

My Picks

Format: 8-1

Forwards: Taylor Hall, Adam Henrique, Kyle Palmieri, Travis Zajac

Defensemen: Andy Greene, Jon Merrill, John Moore, Damon Severson

Goalie: Cory Schneider

I wind up being the only other writer to follow the 8-1 format as John did, however he and I do not have identical choices as our 7-3-1 writers did; our one difference was Ben Lovejoy Vs. John Moore. Moore fits a similar age range as the core of the team and while he is prone to as many defensive gaffes as Lovejoy, Moore at least brings some offense to the table. I’d rather the Devils be free of Lovejoy as well; at his age, he’s likely to regress, and I shudder to think of what that regression would look like.

Summary

If we pretend that our 5 writers who were polled are the New Jersey Devils management, then the team would be going 7-3-1 for expansion. Protected would be Bennett, Hall, Henrique, Josefson, Noesen, Palmieri, Zajac, Greene, Merrill, Severson and Schneider.

The argument could be made for 8-1; much like John said in the video, the Devils don’t really have that many players worth protecting, and most of the forwards outside of the 4 we all named are either role players or exempt. Noticeable by his absence in every list is Michael Cammalleri and justifiably so; last season saw Cam go on an awful scoring drought, and this could be a sign that he is on the decline. Even if he does rebound, the Devils would be best served with his cap off of the books going forward. Will he be left unprotected? Possibly. Will Vegas take him if he is? Again, it could happen.

Devante Smith-Pelly is all but a guarantee to be exposed, however due to his poor play last season, it is not likely he is selected. More than likely, the Golden Knghts will take an unprotected defender, as there will be better goalies available than Keith Kinkaid; not to slight Kinkaid with that statement, but there are players who are either more highly touted or who have put up better numbers that are available.

Your Take

We’ve spent time talking about it all season, but now the Expansion Draft is all but here; the Vegas Golden Knights are soon to exist, and I want to know who you think they will take from the Devils. I would also like to send a big thank you to John, CJ, Alex and Brian for providing me with their choices so that our readers could see all of our thought processes and so I could write what I hope is an interesting article.

So who’s your pick? If you were Ray Shero and management, who would you protect? Is there any possible side deal you would make to have a specific player taken or not taken? Leave any and all comments below and thank you as always for reading!