BOSTON (CBS) — On Sunday, the Bruins announced the 10 players who have been protected from the Seattle expansion draft. The flip side of that news, of course, involves the players who are now exposed for the draft on Wednesday.
Rookies and free agents are not subject to the expansion draft, so not all of the players outside of the protected list will be available for the Kraken to draft. Additionally, players who are free agents — like Tuukka Rask, David Krejci, and Taylor Hall — are not eligible to be taken by Seattle.
With that, here are the top candidates for poaching by the NHL’s newest franchise.
Nick Ritchie – LW
Though nothing is a one-for-one decision per se, the Bruins essentially opted to protect Jake DeBrusk instead of Nick Ritchie.
The 25-year-old Ritchie is coming off a season with a career-high 15 goals (in 56 games) with 11 assists. The 6-foot-2, 232-pound winger was acquired from Anaheim before the 2020 trade deadline, in exchange for Danton Heinen. In 63 regular-season games with Boston, he has 16 goals and 12 assists. In 19 playoff games, he has two goals and three assists.
Ritchie is a restricted free agent after making $2 million last season.
Connor Clifton – D
It seemed for quite some time that Connor Clifton would end up being exposed to the expansion draft, and Sunday’s news confirmed those suspicions.
Clifton– a right-shot defenseman — is signed for two more years with a $1 million cap hit per season, making him an intriguing cost-controlled option for Seattle.
The 26-year-old who’s come to be known in these parts as “Cliffy Hockey” played in 44 games for Boston last season, scoring a goal and registering six assists. He’s played in 94 regular-season NHL games (with 3-7-10 totals and a plus-19 rating) and has 36 games of Stanley Cup Playoffs experience (with 3-5-8 totals).
Prior to joining the Bruins, Clifton played four years at Quinnipiac. He tallied 28 points (7-21-28) in 43 games during his junior season, when the Bobcats reached the national championship game, which they lost to North Dakota.
Jeremy Lauzon – D
One of the three young left-shot D-men who was given an opportunity to seize a larger role with Zdeno Chara no longer in the picture, Jeremy Lauzon played in 41 regular-season games for Boston, scoring a goal and registering seven assists.
He has three goals and eight assists in 76 career regular-season games, to go with a plus-12 rating. He’s also played in 13 playoff games, with zero points registered and a minus-6 rating.
Lauzon led all Bruins in shorthanded time on ice last year, averaging 3:05 of shorthanded time on ice per game. That accounted for more than half of his overall ice time.
The 6-foot-1, 204-pound Lauzon was a second-round pick by Boston in the 2015 draft. The 24-year-old is under contract for $850,000 next year before hitting restricted free agency in 2022.
Jakub Zboril – D
Another of the young left-shot D-men to get the chance to seize a greater role, Jakub Zboril played in 42 games for Boston last year, registering nine assists and an even rating. He had entered the season with just two career NHL games of experience.
Zboril, who was taken as the first of three first-round picks by Boston in 2015, is due $725,000 next season before becoming a restricted free agent. The 24-year-old suffered an injury late in the season and didn’t play in the postseason.
Curtis Lazar – RW
The Bruins traded a second-round pick and Anders Bjork to acquire Taylor Hall and Curtis Lazar prior to the deadline. Lazar provided energy on Boston’s fourth line, scoring two goals with two assists while delivering 35 hits in 17 regular-season games. He tallied one assist and 32 hits in 10 playoff games.
Lazar has an $800,000 cap hit next season before becoming an unrestricted free agent.
Chris Wagner – RW
The Walpole native is signed for the next two seasons with a $1.35 million cap hit per year. With just two goals and three assists in 41 games last year, that cost may not be appealing for Seattle.
Wagner just completed his third season with the Bruins. He has 20 goals and 14 assists in 184 regular-season games, along with four goals and an assits in 35 playoff games.
Other Exposed Players
Karson Kuhlman could get taken, though he has just six goals and seven assists in 56 NHL games. Kuhlman is due $750,000 next season. Ondrej Kase is available but missed most of last season after suffering a serious concussion early in the year. Kase is a restricted free agent.
The Kraken could take a run at signing one of the Bruins’ free agents in the coming days, which would exclude the Bruins from losing a player to the expansion draft. There’s been no indication, though, that Seattle has any plans to target the likes of Rask (who will be coming off surgery), Krejci (who’s NHL future seems at least slightly uncertain), or Hall (who’s reportedly in agreement with Boston on a deal).