Alex Biega and the Expansion Draft

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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski – USA TODAY Sports

Tonight the Vancouver Canucks will face the Arizona Coyotes in Glendale. This marks the 50th game of the season for the Canucks, but for defenceman Alex Biega, it means that he will be playing his 19th contest of the season.

Which is what we are going to talk about today – Biega playing his 19th game this season and how that relates to the NHL expansion draft his summer. **Update: Philip Larsen returns to the lineup tonight, so Biega remains at 18 games**

There has been an abundant amount of incorrect information about the expansion draft put out there, so it’s important that we explore this topic and how it may relate to the Canucks going forward.

We will start with the expansion draft protection rules:

Screen Shot 2017-01-16 at 1.43.11 PM

Most teams will likely go with option one – which allows them to protect seven forwards, three defencemen and a goalie. It’s safe to assume that the Canucks will go this way as well, simply because if they opt to protect eight total skaters, it will force them to expose more forwards, which isn’t a wise venture.

Operating under the assumption, and without further movement along the way, the pencilled in plan would be to protect Alexander Edler, Christopher Tanev and Erik Gudbranson on defence.

Furthermore, the last point in the image – All first and second-year professionals, as well as unsigned draft picks, will be exempt from selection. That means that if the player has just completed their third year of professional hockey, they will be required to be protected; otherwise, they will be exposed in the expansion draft for Las Vegas to select. That means Nikita Tryamkin, Ben Hutton and Troy Stecher are exempt from the expansion draft.

With that out of the way, we will look at the requirements for player exposure:

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This is where the misinformation and confusion have mostly stemmed from.

Alex Biega played 51 games for the Canucks last season, so that means that he needed to appear in 19 games this season to be able to meet the minimum requirement of the expansion draft.

Appearing in those 19 games does not mean Biega suddenly becomes expansion draft. He has always been eligible for the expansion draft, as outlined above because he has more than two years of professional experience in North America.

There has been a lot of commentary on this on the radio, in print, and other blogs that have made it seem like Biega now becomes a trade piece because he meets the player exposure requirements. Unfortunately, him reaching this threshold does very little for his value. Every team has a player that is like Alex Biega – a fringe player who has filled in as injuries required they can replace through free agency in July. Carolina is the only team that may need one for the expansion draft, but Matt Tennyson is 10 games away from meeting the threshold.

However, it does allow the Canucks the option of moving Luca Sbisa if they choose to do so. As of tonight, Sbisa and Biega both meet the requirements for player exposure, thus are both are not needed for this. I doubt a move happens, but that is one of the benefits of Biega playing his 19th game.

This topic isn’t new, as it was covered by Jeff Veillette at Leafs Nation in November, here by Jeremy Davis last June, and then again by Jeremy in October.

So it’s not like, we haven’t been over the rules before.

But it’s important to know the implications of Biega playing his 19th game are to the Canucks going forward. Simply put, it gives them some flexibility to move Sbisa but doesn’t mean they will be forced to do so. Biega will not be protected in the upcoming expansion draft and will be available to be taken by the Vegas Golden Knights. 

He won’t get taken – Sbisa may be the man chosen, to assist with the Golden Knights getting to their cap floor, or one of the forwards that will be exposed. But that’s a topic for another day.


Expansion draft rules are from www.nhl.com

  • natevk

    I’d disagree with the emphasis on the “incorrect information” out there that you harp on in this article: most of what I’ve seen has been exactly in line with these rules, although I have sensed the notion that Biega hitting the 19 games has been overvalued in terms of his potential benefit to other teams as a trade target.

    What this article doesn’t touch on is the potential for the Canucks to protect Sbisa, either through moving another player, or exposing Gudbranson. Depending on the circumstances of his injury and the fact Sbisa has played every game this year, I don’t think its far-fetched to consider the Canucks might take a long look at ways to protect Sbisa.
    Moving Gudbranson, Tanev or Edler and exposing Biega while protecting Sbisa plus the remaining two dmen wouldn’t be ridiculous to consider nonetheless.

    It’s this flexibility that Biega now offers that I consider to be the real asset of him reaching the 19 game threshold.

    • Chris the Curmudgeon

      I agree with Nate, at least with regards to exposing Gudbranson. I never thought I’d say this, but I would rather keep Sbisa, warts and all, moving forward. The team invested the time and money into Luca, and now he finally looks like an acceptable NHL caliber defenceman. I haven’t seen anything to make me think Gudbranson is even as good as Luca is, and Sbisa is kind of OUR bonehead now. Trade Gudbranson at the deadline, or if not, then run the risk of exposing him and hope that Vegas takes him instead of whichever forward we’re leaving uncovered. Forget what we paid for him, that’s sunk cost at this point.

  • Silverback

    I still like the upside of Gudbranson, as I don’t believe we have seen him at his best yet. However, i’d rather expose Biega, trade Gudbranson, and protect Sbisa. We may not get full value for him, but the way Benning seems to unearth gems throughout the draft, a first, second and/or third round pick(any combination) could get us a couple of serviceable forwards.

    • natevk

      I also would be intrigued by the idea of trading with Las Vegas (I’m uncertain on the trade parameters/rules re: trades for expansion draft picks) to get something in return for leaving Gudbranson exposed and protecting Sbisa.

      If we have Edler-Stecher; Hutton-Tanev; Tryamkin+Sbisa/Juolevi/Biega/Pedan, etc. it would be nice to save the 3.5 million+ and get a pick back.

  • Spiel

    What is never mentioned is what happens if a team does not have players that meet the exposure requirements?
    Does that mean they are forced to expose players that would have otherwise been exempt or are they forced to protect fewer players?

    • Dan B

      I’d guess the NHL just wouldn’t accept the list. The team would have to expose a player they wanted to protect and protect a player they wanted to expose. Or the NHL could just revise the list. But it’s hard to imagine it coming to that.

    • TD

      My understanding is that it would mean exposing a player the team was planning to protect. For the Canucks, that would mean exposing Taney or Gudbranson (or Edler if he waived his no movement). Teams have to expose someone that meets the qualifications even if it means you don’t use all of the protection slots.

      The benefit of having Spisa picked is that it means we are less likely to lose Granlund, Baertschi or Hansen. As of now, one of those players will be exposed. Ideally (at least for the expansion draft), they trade Spisa and Hansen and expose Biega on D. They may have to resign Skille to expose someone with Gaunce. Of course that doesn’t help the playoff chase meaning the Canucks are going to have to decide which forward they are willing to risk losing. I like Hansen, but the higher ceiling on Granlund and Baertschi, combined with their younger ages, causes me to hope they expose Hansen.

  • Peezy F

    This is my thoughts and it was echoed by Carol Schram in her blog today…if the nucks trade 1 of sbisa/guddy or hansen, you are going to lose both….with 1 through trade and the other will be picked up as the 1 player from Van. Effectively when trading anyone, you need to try to get a return from losing both in the offseason so it makes it tricky.

    The best and least risky play might be to go into expansion with both exposed so you get to keep atleast one. If you trade both which I doubt there is a good enough return for losing both either because the team trading will likely not include them in their protected list. Otherwise you need to find someone who values the players for a strong playoff push only or also has players that will already be left exposed that would be valued higher than those two to possibly find the return you are looking for and even then, probably won’t get the return for what they are capable of in the next 3-5 years as Canucks.

    Trading someone for expansion or a decent “retool” or “rebuild” return is very complex at the very least

  • Fred-65

    If skill were the determining factor JB would trade Gudbranson for hopefully a first round pick. But as ego is the main deciding factor JB will keep EG. It’s a shame because a first which in IMO achievable for EG combined with Vcrs own 1st round pick might move them up into a higher pick and who knows maybe a quality centre. JB needs to make a impact move this summer.

    IMO Pedan and EG are not that far apart in skill or hockey IQ. UNLESS we haven’t seen the real EG, let’s hope

    • apr

      I think we have this thing in Canuckland where we think a player is not any good (Sbisa, Sutter, Miller, Gudbrandson) – but somehow someway expect that another team is willing to give a first round pick or high end prospect for said player. If you’re another GM, and see that Gudbrandson sucks – why the hell would you give up an asset to get him? People are still lamenting last year about Vrbata – did you see how useless he was? If you were a GM – would you have traded for that??

  • Chris the Curmudgeon

    The question I have is, will they be exposing enough forwards? They have to protect the Sedins and Eriksson, and they will protect Sven and Horvat. I also hope they protect Hansen and Granlund, and risk exposing Sutter, who is not a bad player but who has a forbidding contract. The “career ending injury” provision seems likely to keep Dorsett from being able to satisfy exposure requirements, as it’s really looking possible at this point and he will almost certainly miss the last 60 consecutive games of the year. So at this point, it looks like whichever of the aforementioned players remains, barring a trade (which I wouldn’t necessarily bar), plus Gaunce. However, if Hansen is traded, and those other 7 are protected, then the only other eligible player will be Chaput, provided he plays in at least 25 more games this year. Maybe that’s why his lineup slot has been so inviolable?