Nashville Predators: What to Expect In The Expansion Draft

Nashville Predators (Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports)
Nashville Predators (Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports) /

The time is upon us. On July 17, the Nashville Predators will be submitting their protection list to the NHL and the Seattle Kraken, and with it, the entire fate of next season rests solely on this decision.

Okay, I hope some could detect my sarcasm. But, in all seriousness, the decision facing General Manager David Poile and the rest of the front office is looming, and it will have all fans on the edge of their seats.

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Will a deal be arranged to control the Predators’ fate, or will they roll the dice and let Ron Francis have his pick of available exposed Predators?

Viktor Arvidsson’s trade to the Los Angeles Kings certainly gave me pause. Regardless of Arvidsson’s “decline” over the past two seasons, he still made my top-four Predator forwards protection list in every scenario I have run.

I believe that Arvidsson can truly return to form. Take care of him, LA. He’s one of the good ones.

Regardless, Arvidsson’s departure means it’s time to run another simulation and play every Smashville fan’s favorite game show, Protect These Predators!” So let’s go to the board to look at the categories, shall we?

Arrivederci Arvi

On the Darren, Daunic, and Chase podcast, Poile himself confirmed that he made the Arvidsson trade simply because he did not factor into the Nashville Predators protection plans leading up to the Expansion Draft reveal on July 21.

"“In my conversations with Seattle, if Viktor Arvidsson was not protected, he would have been taken by Seattle, so that’s who we would have lost,” Poile said. “We now have a second and a third (draft picks), that’s pretty good compensation for Viktor that hopefully we can turn into some good players pretty soon.”"

With the mystery solved as to where the front office’s thoughts were regarding a fan favorite and long-time franchise soldier, the door is wide open in terms of possibilities for what Poile thinks as the protection list submission deadline approaches.

Let’s take a look at some of the options at Poile’s disposal regarding how the Predators approach their protection list in “LAA” (Life After Arvidsson, still a little sad).

Make A Deal From The Depth(s)

We can largely sum up the Predators’ 2020/21 season as follows: injuries, standout goaltending from Juuse Saros, and an intense, consistent introduction to the franchise’s youth (the most rookies dressed across the entire NHL, in fact).

There were some pleasant surprises that hope to figure into the long-term plans of this team. However, one player may need to be dangled to keep a more established or more coveted piece.

How does Poile manage to do this? Ideally, by pulling from the team’s currently scheduled six selections in the first four rounds of this year’s entry draft and not offering the young, impressive pieces that we hope to see suit up in gold and navy next October.

Poile’s acquisition of the 39th pick in this year’s entry draft from the Los Angeles Kings in the Arvidsson trade may prove vital to ensuring he can persuade Kraken GM Ron Francis to select a particular piece.

As much as it would be great to hold onto the pick, Poile picking the player he gives up instead of Francis may be more valuable than the prospect to be selected in that slot later this July.

Either way, flipping a selection or two in the entry draft may prove less risky than flipping established assets, as some teams went through in 2017 when Vegas entered the league. I’m looking at teams like Florida, Columbus, and others as examples of how not to handle expansion.

However, hindsight is 20/20. Now that these transactions have been written in history, there is a template to follow when deciding how to handle the new-age expansion rules of the NHL.

Here’s hoping a deal emerges from the depths (Kraken joke) and Poile selects wisely in who Francis takes on in addition to a premium draft selection if that is indeed the piece Poile chooses to dangle in front of Seattle.

However, if Seatle and Nashville can’t reach a deal, let’s examine what the Predators protection list could look like just over a week out from the deadline.

Protect These Nashville Predators!

We are now into the bonus round, and by now, I am sure you all want to know what the latest projection, prognostication, and potential protection list looks like.

Without getting into too many details on each of my selections, I want to say that this will likely be the most unconventional list of any team in the league should a deal not be reached with Seattle before the deadline. This list is built on a house of cards and could change at any moment depending on Poile’s actions leading up to the July 17 deadline.

The Predators have a sterling reputation for being a “defenseman” factory. Like it or not, your Nashville Predators are built from the back out. The Predators have coveted defensemen and a lot of them. So without further ado, David Poile, spin the wheel and PROTECT THESE PREDATORS!


Filip Forsberg

Do I need to say any more? Despite Forsberg’s unhappiness with the departure of his fellow countryman in Arvidsson, the “stache” will remain in Smashville.

The first order of business for Poile post NHL Entry Draft will be locking Forsberg up to a long-term deal. He’s a fan-favorite, seemingly loves Nashville, and even though we say it every year, I truly believe the best is still yet to come from the 26-year-old Swede.

Luke Kunin

While he didn’t progress a ton production-wise in his first year as a Predator (19 points in 38 games played), Kunin showed that he is a capable and responsible two-way forward. At the age of 23, he’s still a young player with some ceiling in his development that would be highly sought after by most teams.

Kunin’s contributions should only grow with a fully healthy season in 2021-22. Watch for him as a breakout candidate next season, and for those reasons, I’ve got him making this protection list.

Calle Jarnkrok

With a perfectly respectable season in the books for the 29-year-old (28 points in 49 games played), Jarnkrok was on pace for a career year over a full 82 game season. “Ironhook” is defensively responsible and can be used as both a penalty killer and second-unit power-play option.

Jarnkrok is one of the Predator’s most versatile players. Additionally, his very friendly cap hit ($2M for 2021-22) and expected team-friendly raise on a possible next contract with the Predators are worthy of a protection spot.


Roman Josi


Ryan Ellis

My ginger-bearded brethren is still one of the most effective defensemen in the entire league when healthy and by no means is he going to be exposed. Next!

Mattias Ekholm

Ekholm is another career Predator who has quietly become one of the most versatile, responsible, and effective two-way defensemen in the entire NHL. So it’s no wonder that when Ekholm’s name was brought up during the Predators “fire sale” before Saros single-handedly prevented an organizational teardown, he was only leaving if Poile was getting a package of assets for the widely respected and relied upon “Swedish Redwood.”

Not only is Ekholm going to be on the Predators protection list, but he will also, along with Forsberg, be locked up to a long-term extension by Summer’s end.

Dante Fabbro

While the 2016 1st-rounder’s season certainly didn’t end the way Fabbro or the rest of us had hoped with an injury and subsequent benching through each of Nashville’s six playoff games against the Carolina Hurricanes, he is still a player who has shown progression year over year since he debuted in the 2018-19 season.

It takes notably longer for a defenseman to progress in the fastest league in the world, and with only 108 games of pro experience, it would be foolish to give up on the youngster now.

As a right-hand shot, Fabbro is a rare commodity in the NHL today. While he is due a contract extension with a very moderate raise, I believe Fabbro will be just fine. This early adversity will serve him well over a long career in the NHL.

Alexandre Carrier

Carrier’s sample size may be small, but his impact on an injury-riddled blue line this past season was anything but. While it took a few games for him to get his feet under him, the most ‘over-seasoned” prospect the Predators have ever had, showed flashes of his potential and gave Predators fans a reason to take notice.

While leaving Carrier unprotected and giving this spot to a forward given his minimal imprint on the league thus far may make more sense, it’s a chance I think many die-hard Predators fans, including myself, do not want to take.


Juuse Saros

Again, DUH! Locking up Saros will again fall in the top priorities for Poile once the expansion and entry drafts are completed.

There you have it, folks. Likely the only team in the NHL to go with a three-forward, five-defensemen, and one goaltender protection group. So now, let’s sit back, do anything but relax, and see what Poile does!

A New Era

Along with many fans, the front office is not happy with the team’s results since the 2017 Stanley Cup Final run. Taking that and moves like the Arvidsson trade into account signals this team is going to shake things up, and no matter who the Predators lose in this expansion draft to the Kraken, this team is expected to look very different come opening night next year.

For those of us attached to certain players, it’s safe to say there are very few Predators that are off-limits when it comes to trade talks this off-season. So Seattle, do your worst and let the shake-up continue in Smashville.

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