Over the next few weeks, we will be breaking down each team’s situation as it pertains to the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft. Which players are eligible, who will likely warrant protection, and which ones may be on the block to avoid the risk of losing them for nothing? Each team is required to submit their protection lists by 4:00 PM CDT on July 17th. The full eligibility rules can be found here, while CapFriendly has an expansion tool to make your own lists.
The last time the Penguins faced an expansion draft, they ended up making what in hindsight looks like one of the biggest mistakes in Jim Rutherford’s time as general manager. The team decided to keep young Matt Murray over the more expensive veteran Marc-Andre Fleury, sending a 2020 second-round pick to Vegas just to make sure their franchise goaltender ended up a Golden Knight. All that Fleury has done since is put up a .917 save percentage and win 28 postseason games, while the Penguins quickly moved on from Murray after some injuries and inconsistencies.
Now helmed by Ron Hextall, the Penguins are in another tough expansion draft situation and look poised to lose a good player once again. Perhaps this time they won’t send a high draft pick along for the ride.
Eligible Players (Non-UFA)
Evgeni Malkin (NMC), Sidney Crosby (NMC), Jake Guentzel, Jason Zucker, Brandon Tanev, Bryan Rust, Kasperi Kapanen, Jared McCann, Jeff Carter, Sam Lafferty, Anthony Angello, Zach Aston-Reese, Mark Jankowski, Teddy Blueger, Pontus Aberg, Sam Miletic
Kris Letang (NMC), Mike Matheson, Brian Dumoulin, Marcus Pettersson, Juuso Riikola, Chad Ruhwedel, Mark Friedman, Jesper Lindgren
Tristan Jarry, Casey DeSmith
Notable Unrestricted Free Agents
Frederick Gaudreau, Colton Sceviour, Evan Rodrigues, Cody Ceci
Drew O’Connor, Radim Zohorna, Samuel Poulin, John Marino, Pierre-Olivier Joseph