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:
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:
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.
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