Islanders Expansion Draft Analysis: Who Gets Picked?

Nick Leddy #2 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Nick Leddy #2 of the New York Islanders (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Believe it or not, in a couple of week’s time the New York Islanders will have to submit their protection list to the league regarding the Seattle Kraken Expansion Draft.

Throughout the year people have written a lot about what will the New York Islanders will do in regards to expansion. The Islanders have to submit their protection list by July 17th and the Expansion Draft will take place on July 21st.

Here is the most likely expansion protection list for the Isles:

7 Forwards, 3 Defenseman, 1 Goalie

Josh Bailey
Matthew Barzal
Anthony Beauvillier
Jordan Eberle
Anders Lee
Brock Nelson
J.G Pageau
Scott Mayfield
Adam Pelech
Ryan Pulock
Semyon Varlamov

Leddy & the Kid Forwards

Who the Islanders lose in expansion baring a trade is going to be decided by Seattle’s GM Ron Francis. Francis’s most likely options are Nick Leddy, Kieffer Bellows, and Otto Koivula.

Leddy at the age of 30 is still a top-four defenseman. He is signed for one more season with a cap hit of $5.5 million. Seattle can take Leddy and either flip him right away for 2021 draft picks or hold on to him and help stabilize their first year and then move him at next year’s trade deadline.

Bellows is a 23-year old winger who has size and skill but has yet to become a regular NHLer. He has shown flashes (ask the Devils from his 2 goal outing this past season) and it’s not uncommon for bigger youngsters to take more time to develop.

What’s interesting is Bellows a first-round pick from 2016 (19th overall) was projected to go somewhere between a little after the top ten to low twenties in the first round of the 2016 Draft. Francis was the GM of the Hurricanes at the time and Carolina had the 13th and 22nd overall selections in the 2016 Draft. What did Francis think of Bellows then?

Finally, we get to Koivula who is a 22-year old center with size. Koivula started this past season playing well overseas but then got off to a slow start in Bridgeport. Still, he is another young player with size and skill, and how many young centers will be available to the Kraken come the Expansion Draft?

Trade Possibilities

Lou Lamoriello has a couple of options when it comes to trades. First, if he believes the Kraken will select Leddy instead of losing him for nothing, Lamoriello could trade him to another team before the Expansion Draft to get assets back (looking at pick & prospect). However, that also will guarantee the Islanders losing a young forward in Bellows or Koivula unless they decide to expose Josh Bailey and or Jordan Eberle.

Trading Leddy or losing him to expansion would free up $5.5 million in cap space but also create a hole on the Isles blue line. If Andy Greene (turns 39 beginning of next season) doesn’t return the Isles already have one hole to fill on the D-core. Having said that with Greene wanting to play next season look for him to be back with the blue and orange on a similar deal he signed last summer.

The other option for Lamoriello is making a deal with Seattle. The Isles could make a trade where they kill two birds with one stone.

If Lou can make a deal with Seattle where he ships a veteran such as Leo Komarov ($3 million cap hit) he could protect his roster while freeing up some desperately needed cap space. However, that will cost a draft pick (at least a 2nd Rounder) and the Isles have traded away quite a bit of draft capital these last two trade deadlines.

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The Islanders have some tough decisions ahead due to expansion. This decision will take into account the current squad, future pieces, and their salary cap situation.