How will this year's trade deadline be influenced by the expansion draft?
Pierre LeBrun: It won't affect the top four to five elite teams that have their eyes on the prize and nothing else. Those teams can wait to deal with their expansion-draft decisions after the season. But for almost every other team, no question they will be affected. Take the Columbus Blue Jackets. Let's just pretend they trade for Matt Duchene (again, this is purely to make a point, folks) in exchange for Prospect X, Player X and Draft Pick X. Then, obviously, they would want to protect Duchene as one of their seven forwards for the expansion draft. That means a guy such as William Karlsson or Josh Anderson gets exposed. So that means the cost of the Duchene trade becomes what was traded for him, plus Anderson or Karlsson (who would go to Vegas). For a young team such as the Blue Jackets, that's what they are thinking about. Which is why a rental player makes more sense for a team like that; a pending unrestricted free agent doesn't affect protection plans for the expansion draft.
Craig Custance: The more people I talk to, the more I'm convinced that a lot of the expansion draft shuffling and preparation is going to take place after the season. If you're, say, the Minnesota Wild and you're worried about losing a defenseman in the expansion draft, I'm not sure you're making a trade now and weakening the team in any way just to protect yourself in June. There will be time for teams to address the expansion draft after the season ends. Now, one area that might affect the trade deadline is the reluctance to move draft picks in case teams want to save those picks to use in a deal to convince Las Vegas not to take a player in the expansion draft. If a GM is on the fence about trading a draft pick for a player at the deadline and is concerned about losing a good player in the expansion draft, he might decide it's more prudent to keep a stockpile of draft picks to use as ammunition to send to Las Vegas to protect his players. Draft picks might have more value this year at the deadline for that reason.
Joe McDonald: Goaltending could be the one position in which we see movement at the trade deadline as a way to protect teams at the expansion draft. More than a few teams need a true No. 1 who could help them earn a Stanley Cup playoff berth and possibly enjoy a deep run with the right fit. The Calgary Flames are interested in the Tampa Bay Lightning's Ben Bishop and the Pittsburgh Penguins' Marc-Andre Fleury, who are both available. Bishop has a no-movement clause in his contract, but could be willing to waive it. Fleury's contract also protects him from the expansion draft, but he does have a list of teams he would consider going to. True Cup contenders need a solid goalie tandem, so keep an eye on Bishop and Fleury to see if they are moved.
Scott Burnside: The expansion draft is just another complicating fact of life for GMs. The biggest factor when it comes to the trade deadline remains the parity in the league. As of Thursday morning, teams that are truly cooked number just three (Colorado Avalanche, Arizona Coyotes and Detroit Red Wings) with the Carolina Hurricanes and Dallas Stars edging toward full sell mode as well. But that means 25 teams are still eyeing a playoff spot, which creates a trade logjam less than two weeks from the deadline. Still, every team is going to lose a player in the expansion draft and the fact that each team can protect only one goalie adds an element of intrigue especially, as Joey Mac points out, with top-end goaltenders in play. But even Pittsburgh, which would like to find a new home for Fleury sooner rather than later, can afford to wait until the expansion draft to make a decision on how to make final adjustments to its protected list to ensure it doesn't lose a gem in No. 1 Matt Murray.