The Buffalo Sabres announced their protection list on Sunday morning, protecting seven forwards, three defenseman and one goalie from being taken by the Seattle Kraken on Wednesday night in the expansion draft. Here are the seven forwards the Sabres have protected:
Jack Eichel, Sam Reinhart, Victor Olofsson, Casey Mittelstadt, Rasmus Asplund, Anders Bjork and Tage Thompson.
The three defensemen that were protected are Rasmus Dahlin, Rasmus Ristolainen and Henri Jokiharju.
Buffalo has also protected goaltender Linus Ullmark.
The Sabres protected list pretty much went as most people thought it would. Earlier in the week, General Manager Kevyn Adams asked and received permission from forward Jeff Skinner to waive his no trade clause in order to expose him to Seattle in the expansion draft. This was in order to protect another forward from being selected. However, it is unlikely that the Kraken will choose Skinner as a result of his contract. One move that caught fans by surprise was not protecting defenseman Will Borgen and protecting fellow defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen.
Ristolainen has been very vocal and honest about his time with the Sabres, stating that he cannot go through another rebuild and that he is “fine” with any outcome that Kevyn Adams and Co. see fit, including being traded. Borgen is a very solid prospect for Buffalo and showed that he is ready for a full-time job on the team’s blue-line this coming season. If Adams wants to keep Borgen, he’ll have to more than likely make a trade with Kraken GM Ron Francis to keep him from taking the young blue-liner. It clearly was no surprise for the Sabres to protect goaltender Linus Ullmark, even though he is an unrestricted free agent and is expected to test the open market once free agency commences. Ullmark has stated that he is open to returning to Buffalo, but will expect a hefty increase in his salary to be their starting goalie.
In other news, Jack Eichel and the Sabres are still at odds over the forward’s neck injury rehab. Eichel wants surgery, but the organization is steering away from that route. Due to his contract with Buffalo, the team holds all the cards on how he addresses the situation. With the NHL Draft less than a week away, trade rumours have been aplenty since the 24-year-old held his end of season press conference. That said, it has been reported that both the tea, and Eichel would like to move on. Adams is asking for a hefty return for Eichel, as he should, but the issue surrounding his neck injury is a risk that not many teams want to take, as well as the asking price attached to him as well.
We’ll see who the Seattle Kraken pick with the Sabres selection in just one day’s time. My guess would be defenseman Will Borgen, or possibly forward Zemgus Girgensons. And with the NHL Entry Draft on Friday the 23rd, other than the No. 1 overall pick entering the franchise in Buffalo, thus team could look a whole lot different come Saturday morning.