With the NHL announcing the 32nd franchise to start for 2021-22 season Marc Bergevin can successfully put himself in a position to leverage his position against Seattle and the rest of the NHL with some smart moves the rest of this season
The following players will be exempt under to 2 or fewer pro seasons rule provided they don't play enough to qualify this season
Nick Suzuki, Ryan Poehling, Josh Brook, Jacob Oloffson, Jesse Ylonen, Joel Teasdale, Cayden Primeau and the rest of the prospects who aren't on the NHL or AHL team this year.
This list should make many habs fans breathe a sigh of relief because by the time the expansion draft comes around atleast 3 players from that list will likely be up with the big club.
So now we get to the actual players involved
The Habs forward group as currently constructed provides some enticing flexibility for MB as 3 players are UFA that year. Gallagher, Tatar, Danault. Which leaves a group that would be eligable to be protected that is currently signed of
Hudon if he is signed long term
Among this group none have NMC that could interfere with selection should the future not be kind to them. Given the movement to make room for players like suzuki and poehling up front by the time the expansion draft comes we could only have 5 players who need protecting
Like the forwards the Defense has Petry's contract expiring which will make things easier to flesh out. The dmen eligable
Looking at the defense list there are a few more variables. Biggest variables are
a) where is Mete's game at by this point?
b) if we slip lower in the standings this year do we have a Broberg esque d prospect that doesnt need protecting.
c) Does anyone surprise between now and then? Kulak has been solid so far and Fleury 2 years from now could be a legit dman.
This is self explanatory Price will be protected and Lindgren/mcniven/whoever the backup is will be exposed.
Barring a major departure from the current roster by adding expansion eligible players the habs can avoid losing a key piece and even potentially adding a piece in the forward core through this draft by delaying some extensions for players like Gallagher until after draft.