New York Rangers
Bruno Rouby, ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

The New York Rangers will have some tough choices during the 2021 Expansion Draft, so who should they protect?

Billy McInerney

When it comes to expansion drafts, timing is everything. In that respect, the New York Rangers are in an odd boat. They will simultaneously have tough decisions to make about who to protect and be thankful that some of their key players won’t need to be protected.

The NHL is expanding to Seattle, and an Expansion Draft will occur at the conclusion of the 2021 season. The timing is less than ideal for the Rangers, as ESNY’s Brian Paget explains. However, there’s nothing that can be done about that, and it’s on Jeff Gorton to adjust.

The rules of the draft will be the same as the Expansion Draft that was conducted in 2017 when the Rangers lost Oscar Lindberg. Teams can protect either eight skaters at any position and one goalie, or seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie, and any players with No-Movement Clauses must be protected unless they agree to waive them.

Additionally, all unsigned draft picks and players who have two seasons or less of professional experience in North America will be automatically exempt and not cost a roster spot.

While the roster can and will change between now and the Expansion Draft, the core of the team will likely remain the same. However, projecting the future is always fun, especially in a lost season. In that regard, the question of who the team should protect will be answered ahead.

It is assumed that the team will opt to protect seven forwards and three defensemen as opposed to eight skaters. It’s also important to remember that any player currently with the Rangers, Wolf Pack, or Maine Mariners (the Rangers ECHL affiliate) will need to be protected or exposed, as all of them will be at the end of their third professional season.


The first five names were easy to select. Zibanejad has developed into a legitimate number one center and will have a no-movement clause in effect by the draft. Chytil and Buchnevich are both young players who have impressed immensely with their skill.

Howden was a key part of the Ryan McDonagh trade and has been a strong middle-six piece during his rookie year. Andersson has struggled some at the NHL level but was the seventh overall pick and has dominated at the AHL level. He’ll be kept unless he shows absolutely no improvement between now and the draft.

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