The Anaheim Ducks 2021 Expansion Draft Strategy

A general view of the Space Needle (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
A general view of the Space Needle (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Now that the trade deadline has come and gone for the Anaheim Ducks and the 30 other NHL teams, the focus will soon shift to the upcoming Seattle Expansion Draft. The draft is currently scheduled for July 21st, which will be roughly a week after the Stanley Cup Playoffs end.

Most non-playoff teams don’t make big moves during this time, so expect the roster the Anaheim Ducks have to remain until then. Additionally, the NHL entry draft is scheduled two days after Seattle becomes a team, so any draft day deals you may see to save teams from tough expansion decisions are unlikely to happen.

Expansion Draft Rules and Requirements

  1. You must protect all players with no-movement clauses at the time of the draft.
  2. First and second-year players are exempt.
  3. You must expose one defenseman under contract for 2021-22, that has played in at least 40 games the prior season, or 70 total the last two seasons.
  4. You must expose two forwards under contract for 2021-22, that have played in 40 games the prior season, or 70 total the last two seasons.
  5. One goalie who is under contract for 2021-22, or a restricted free agent.
  6. No players with career-ending injuries may be used to satisfy draft requirements.

Players the Anaheim Ducks will Protect

We will start with forward for this exercise. CapFriendly currently has a draft simulator making my job easier and has designated which players will meet requirements and which players are exempt. Under this model, I will have the Anaheim Ducks protect 7 forwards.

The seven players are: Rickard Rakell, Troy Terry, Jakob Silfverberg, Isac Lundestrom, Max Jones, Sam Steel, and Adam Henrique.

This will leave lineup regulars Derek Grant and Danton Heinen exposed, as well as newcomer, Alexander Volkov. Carter Rowney, Ryan Getzlaf, and David Backes are UFA’s, and barring any extensions prior to July 21st, will not need to be protected.

Other notable names exposed will be Nicolas Deslauriers, Sonny Milano, and Vinni Lettieri. Additionally, Ryan Kesler will not meet the requirements to be exposed given his long-term injury situation.

Next, we will look at defensemen. Since I chose to protect seven forwards, I only get to protect three defensemen. This one is pretty much a no-brainer, barring some unforeseen trade between now and the draft. The three protected defensemen will be Hampus Lindholm, Cam Fowler, and Josh Manson.

That means Kevin Shattenkirk, Haydn Fleury, and Jacob Larsson will be left unprotected. Additionally, Josh Mahura and Brendan Guhle do not meet the requirements of exposure, but can still be selected.

Lastly, we must protect one goaltender, and leave one exposed that meets expansion draft requirements. Another very easy decision here, the Anaheim Ducks will protect John Gibson and leave Anthony Stolarz exposed. Since Ryan Miller is an upcoming UFA, he does not meet requirements, but Stolarz, who was signed through the 2022-23 season does, so he is exposed.

Likely Selections

The most prominent names left unprotected are Derek Grant, Danton Heinen, Nicolas Deslauriers, Kevin Shattenkirk, Hadyn Fleury, Jacob Larsson, and Anthony Stolarz. The lesser-known names that could be selected are Sonny Milano, Josh Mahura, Vinni Lettieri, Brendan Guhle, and Alexander Volkov.

Out of those names, I am going to pick the three most likely and add a wild card that could get chosen by Seattle. Let’s start with Kevin Shattenkirk, who is 32 years old and under a relatively cheap contract for two more seasons at $3.9 million per year.

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Next is Danton Heinen, who is 25 years old and a restricted free agent. Third would be Sonny Milano, who is in a similar situation as Heinen, just 24 years old, and will be a restricted free agent following the 2021-22 season. Lastly, the wild card selection that Seattle may choose is defenseman, Josh Mahura.

Mahura is 22 years and has played in 39 games over the last three NHL seasons. While he is not the most experienced player, he offers a bit of upside and is in a similar situation as former Duck, Shea Theodore who was traded to Vegas in the 2017 expansion draft, after just 53 games in Anaheim.


The Seattle Kraken will select Danton Heinen from Anaheim in the 2021 expansion draft. As previously mentioned, Heinen is only 25 years on his second NHL team in as many years as he was traded to Anaheim from Boston at the 2020 trade deadline. He has been in and out of the Ducks’ lineup, playing in 34 of their 46 games, registering 10 points (6G,4A), and is a -7.

I think Danton Heinen is a useful two-way hockey player, who still has enough upside to entice Seattle and should fit into their top three lines, likely the second or third depending on how their roster shapes out. We will see in a couple of months how this prediction turns out, as it should be a very interesting expansion draft for the NHL’s newest franchise and 32nd team.

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NHL expansion draft information can be found on and Stats are updated through 4/22/21 and can be found on