Chicago Blackhawks have some good news on the expansion draft

Alex Nylander, Chicago Blackhawks Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Nylander, Chicago Blackhawks Mandatory Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports /

It appears that the Blackhawks won’t have to worry about protecting several players when Seattle joins the NHL. As the expansion draft looms, which player leaves and who has to be protected has been discussed a lot. Maybe too much, in fact. However, Chicago probably can breathe a bit easier.

On June 21, CapFriendly released a list of players whose contracts won’t have to be protected. What’s particularly important for the Chicago Blackhawks is that two players are on it that won’t need to be protected, Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw.

Seabrook has a full NMC on his contract. However, because of his injury status, Chicago won’t need to bother protecting him, although he’ll never play again for the team. This is a breath of fresh air for the Blackhawks. There was a lot of consternation about whether or not the team would have to add him to the protected list or not, but the answer appears to be, “no”.

But wait, there’s more! Even though he’s not listed with the players exempt due to injury, Alex Nylander won’t have to be protected either. It shrinks the list of eligible players even more, and that’s only good news for Chicago. Nylander doesn’t have a NMC, and the team wasn’t necessarily obligated to protect him, even if they likely would have. A quick look at CapFriendly’s list of the players exempt for Chicago lists Nylander among them.

Why is Nylander being exempt? Basically, he hasn’t played enough as a pro to be considered eligible, and this really only happened because he missed the entire 2020-21 season due to his injury. Some people might not like that Nylander will still be with the team, but it makes the process easier for Chicago. Especially because it gives the team more time to consider what to with players like Nikita Zadorov.

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When the expansion draft finally happens on July 21st, the list of players available to Seattle is smaller than people had originally assumed, at least for Chicago. Going into next season that will likely only have been a good thing. The Blackhawks should start 2021-22 with all of their key players back in the lineup.