Winnipeg Jets To Lose Elite Young Star To Seattle?

Update:  In this article, I write that Adam Lowry will likely have a no-move clause by the time of the Seattle expansion draft. That is incorrect as he will still be on his current contract until the next season. However, it has little impact on the situation since he is a guy the Jets will absolutely need to protect. Dustin Buffylein should also have been added as he will have one more year left on his contract at that time.  This would put Sami Niku in jeopardy. 


The last time NHL big wigs thought it was a good idea to add an expansion team to the NHL Winnipeg survived the process relatively unscathed. However, Vegas did get the last laugh in the playoffs defeating Winnipeg in just 5 games. In fact, the Jets didn’t surrender a single player who was under contract for the next season. They made a deal where Vegas agreed to select pending Free-Agent Chris Thorburn, a 3rd round pick, and move up 11 spots in the first round of that year’s draft.  As it turned out Thorburn never suited up for a single game with the Golden Knights as he signed with the St. Louis Blues while the Jets were able to acquire fledgling young star Kristian Veselainen with their first round pick. If NHL GM’s were to go back and re-draft the 2016-2017 draft today Veselainen would be long gone before the Jet’s original pick let alone the draft spot they downgraded to as a result of the trade. However, I just don’t see the expansion process working out that well for the Jets the next time around.

As was reported by Hockey Night in Canada senior writer Chris Johnston, NHL GM’s have been informed that the NHL will follow the same expansion draft rules that were used with the Vegas Knights. So what does this mean for the Winnipeg Jets?  To simplify, it means that the Jets will again have two options. Either they can protect 7 forwards, 3 defencemen and 1 goalie, or they can protect 8 skaters and 1 goalie. But it’s a bit trickier than it seems. If a player has a no-movement clause (modified or otherwise) the Jets will have to either get that player to waive the clause (unlikely) or by default they will have to protect that player. With all signs pointing to Seattle entering the NHL after the 2019-2020 season, the Jets might be in for a world of hurt this time around.

Let’s take a look at who the Jets would need to protect and who would be exempt from the expansion draft.

Players with no-move clauses through the 2020-2021 season and those who will most likely have them by that time:

F – Blake Wheeler
F – Adam Lowry (no-move clause likely in place at time of expansion)
F – Bryan Little
D – Jacob Trouba (no-move clause likely in place at time of expansion)
D – Josh Morrisey (no-move clause likely in place at time of expansion)

Much Longer is the list of athletes who project to be key players on the Jets. These are guys who they will want to protect but are unlikely to have no move clauses at that point in their careers. Keep in mind that no player qualifies for a no-move clause until they hit age 27 or have played 7 years of pro hockey.

F – Mark Scheifele
F – Nikolaj Ehlers
F – Patrik Laine
F – Kyle Conner
F – Jack Roslovich
F – Brendan Lemieux
F – Mason Appleton
F – Nic Petan
D – Sami Niku
D – Tucker Poolman
D – Tyler Myers
G – Conner Hellebuyck
G – Eric Comrie
G – Laurent Brossoit

Players who won’t have the required pro-level experience to be eligible.

F – Kristian Veselainen
F – C.J. Suiss
F – David Gustafsson
D – Logan Stanley
D – Luke Green

If you’ve been counting that’s currently 11 Forwards, 5 defencemen, and 3 goalies. Which means we basically need to pick 2 goalies, 2 defencemen, and 4 forwards to expose to Seattle. Let’s start with goalies. The team would obviously protect Conner Hellebuyck, exposing Eric Comrie and Laurent Brossoit or whoever is their backup goalie at that time. It’s unlikely that Seattle is going to pick a goalie from Winnipeg anyway because they can only select one player. Winnipeg will have more tantalizing options at forward where the team is currently experiencing an embarrassment of riches.  On defense, it’s probably not going to be the biggest issue either as I only expect that one of Trouba and Myers will still be with the Jets at that time. One will be traded or lost in free-agency before this becomes an issue. As a result, Tucker Poolman is likely to be the guy who is made available but again he’s unlikely to be selected by Seattle.  The real missing bag of pucks in this predicament is at forward.

7 Most Likely Forwards to be protected

F – Blake Wheeler (NTC)
F – Bryan Little (NTC)
F – Adam Lowry (Likely to have NTC)
F – Mark Scheifele (one of the best centers in the NHL)
F – Patrik Laine (perennial “Rocket” Richard trophy competitor)
F – Kyle Conner (perennial sniper)
F – Jack Roslovich (2nd line centerman)

Players at risk of being exposed

F – Nikolaj Ehlers
F – Brendan Lemieux
F – Mason Appleton
F – Nic Petan
F – Andrew Copp
F – Brandon Tanev

That’s right! No double take here. As it stands right now it looks like Nikolaj Ehlers the former 9th overall pick and one of the most exciting players on the Jets is going to be on the way out one way or another. What’s far more likely than that he will be headed to Seattle as that the Jets trade Ehlers for a basket of prospects and picks. He would be jettisoned to a team who is better able to protect him from the expansion draft. I could see the returns on him being very high. We’re talking a 1st round pick plus two very solid NHL prospects as the very least. What he could command in a trade would certainly be greater than what Winnipeg could end up losing in the expansion draft.  However, the fact is that Winnipeg will be facing some serious cap issues by this time and would likely need to shave his 6 million dollars from the cap just to keep the rest of the team together.  So, in the end, you could see a player like Brendan Lemieux going to Seattle unless the Jets work out some sort of deal where they send a draft pick to Seattle in exchange for them selecting a player non-essential to the Jets on-ice fortunes.

That’s my take.  Would love to hear your thoughts on the issue!

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Bruce HallmuthJdubColin UngerBrian Recent comment authors
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Bryan Little’s no movement clause becomes a modified no trade clause after the 2019-2020 season. Players with no trade clauses can be left unprotected.

So, you protect Ehlers and expose Little. I think everyone would be fine with that.

Bruce Hallmuth
Bruce Hallmuth

Ha ha That’s two yrs from now , Buff over ,two at least on Moose don’t even try a silly prediction like this , MANY CHANGES WILL HAPPEN AFTER SEASON OVER 2019 July !