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SB Nation Expansion Draft: Protected Forwards

SB Nation is holding their expansion draft and we need to find the forwards that we want to protect.
SB Nation is holding their expansion draft and we need to find the forwards that we want to protect.

So we have been keeping you updated on the SB Nation Expansion Draft with the two new franchises, Quebec City and Winnipeg and now it is time to compose our protected list. When the last real expansion draft happened 10 years ago, the following rules were in place as to how the players were protected:

Rules on Protected List

- Teams can protect either "1 goalie, 5 defensemen and 9 forwards" OR "2 goalies, 3 defensemen and 7 forwards." 

- If you go the two goalie route, at least one goalie left unprotected must have played in at least 10 games last season OR 25 games in the last two seasons combined. One game = at least 31 minutes. 

- Each team must leave unprotected at least one defenseman who appeared in 40 games last season OR 70 games in the last two seasons combined. 

- Each team must leave unprotected at least two forwards who appeared in 40 games last season OR 70 games in the last two seasons combined. 

- Rookies who have yet to play in the NHL, like Tyler Seguin and Taylor Hall, for example, are automatically exempt. 

- Players who have played 49 or less games are also exempt.

For the Sabres, the one goaltender route seems to be the route to go, unless there is a clamoring for people to protect Patrick Lalime. That means that the Sabres will protect 9 forwards and 5 defensemen along with Ryan Miller. After the jump, I state my case for my selection of 9 forwards and you get your chance to way in on the decision.

To start, looking at the Sabres roster on their site, the following forwards are exempt from having to be protected: Paul Byron, Tim Conboy, Dennis McCauley, Mark Mancari, Felix Schutz, Colin Stuart, Corey Tropp, Travis Turnbull, Derek Whitmore, Tyler Ennis, and Nathan Gerbe.

Here is my justification for the nine forwards, I would like to protect:

Thomas Vanek

Thomas Vanek

#26 / Left Wing / Buffalo Sabres



Jan 19, 1984

Vanek leads my list due to the fact that he is currently the Sabres most prolific goal scorer. Vanek has led the Sabres in goals scored for the past four years including his 43 goals in 2006-07 and 40 goals in 2008-09. Vanek has shown that he has the potential to become the first Sabres scorer to score 50 goals in a season since Lafontaine and Mogliny did it in the 1992-93 season. Vanek will be 27 on January 19th, entering his prime, and poised to do more this season than he has in the past five.

Derek Roy

Derek Roy

#9 / Center / Buffalo Sabres



May 04, 1983

While some may disagree with how he plays, there is no doubt that Roy is someone that you would want on your team. Roy has led the team in points for the past three seasons and should be considered the Sabres number one center. There wouldn't be a team in the league that wouldn't want him on their team and is someone you can build a line around and for those reasons, Roy is here to stay.

Jason Pominville

Jason Pominville

#29 / Right Wing / Buffalo Sabres



Nov 30, 1982

Pominville is the next player that makes the most sense just due to his offensive abilities. Pominville has had at least 60 points in the last four seasons, including his 80 point season in 2007-08. Pominville has been apart of this team for five seasons and is part of the "core" that Darcy Regier built this team around. 

Tim Connolly

Tim Connolly

#19 / Center / Buffalo Sabres



May 07, 1981

While this may not be a consensus pick, Tim Connolly is still a player that the Sabres need to keep to stay competitive. Connolly has been lauded by many fans due to his work ethic and his ability to disappear during the playoffs. That being said, Connolly is still a key member of this team and another veteran member of the core. 

Cody McCormick

Cody McCormick

#8 / Center / Buffalo Sabres



Apr 18, 1983

I'm going to readily admit, McCormick isn't a player that I want to protect but since he doesn't fit the criteria of players that we can unprotect, he's someone that finds himself on this list. Yep, I said it.

Jochen Hecht

Jochen Hecht

#55 / Left Wing / Buffalo Sabres



Jun 21, 1977

Jochen Hecht is a role player on the team that the Sabres would be missing more if he wasn't on the team. As much as Hecht doesn't do with the puck stats wise, his ability to read the ice and make the correct play is something that can't be quantified. 

Paul Gaustad

Paul Gaustad

#28 / Center / Buffalo Sabres



Feb 03, 1982

Gaustad is one of those unsung players that the Sabres have to fill out the bottom six. His faceoff percentage consistently leads the team and the fact that he is grinder is something that the team would need to protect. 

Patrick Kaleta

Patrick Kaleta

#36 / Right Wing / Buffalo Sabres



Jun 08, 1986

Kaleta is one of those players that you love to have on your team but would hate to compete against. With that said, Kaleta stays on the roster. 

Mike Grier

Mike Grier

#25 / Right Wing / Buffalo Sabres



Jan 05, 1975

Mike Grier is one of the unsung leaders of the locker room in a room that needs someone to step up and be a leader. The leadership and the no trade clause are two reasons to keep Grier on the roster. 

Those are the nine forwards I would suggest for our protection list. That leaves Drew Stafford and Rob Niedermayer.  What really matters is what you think though. Below is the poll to make your selection for your protected list and defend your choices in the comments below. The top nine players protected are the players that will be protected as long as they conform to rules given.