Panther Parkway Protection List Predictions

We are just days from the 2021 NHL Expansion Draft, where the newly formed Seattle Kraken will be coming into the mix and become the 32nd NHL team. Now the NHL will be the second professional sports league in the United States and Canada to have a 32nd team(the other is the NFL). With a new team, comes an expansion draft, with an expansion draft, comes protection lists and with protection comes drama.  With drama, comes hard feelings from players of not getting protected/feeling valued, etc.

This though is the nature of the beast, and while you can’t protect everybody, but if that also means growing the game of hockey, it means more television revenue(especially needed now more than ever with the flat cap of $81.5M due to COVID-19), it means more farm systems in the AHL and ECHL(which the Panthers and the Kraken will be sharing AHL Charlotte Checkers next season), it means more players have opportunities to have a chance to make it to the NHL since another team will be in the mix, which means more roster spots will be available.

It’s going to be short-term pain more than some teams, but some teams might not be affected. The Florida Panthers this time around have put themselves in a position roster-wise that even if a player like Noel Acciari, a Mason Marchment, a Radko Gudas, or a Marcus Nutivaara are selected, they’re positioned to contend next year. It is looking as if the Panthers will be resuming play in the Atlantic Division next season, which means they’ll be seeing old friends again like, the Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Montreal Canadiens, Buffalo Sabres, and Ottawa Senators.  Of course they’ll also be facing teams that they saw very often this past season in the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning.

This doesn’t seem like a repeat of the last go-round when the Vegas Golden Knights came into the NHL, with a lot of turmoil in the front office and the coaching staff at the time. The Panthers brought in Bob Boughner to become their next Head Coach after the Tom Rowe Interim Experiment went south. This time around there is more stability with the Front Office and the coaching staff as the Panthers head into the 2021 Expansion Draft. Let’s be honest though, winning brings a lot of that stability, so with the Florida Panthers coming off a playoff appearance, in what I call a season of direction, if there is a hit on the roster based on X player taken, this time around, I’m mentally prepared for it to be a small dent that can be fixed as opposed to a car being totaled.

So where do we think the Cats go? Before we reveal what the predictions are, a bit of a disclaimer that these lists were submitted to me on Wednesday(7/14) when we had our roundtable discussion on Locked On Panthers.

Panthers can go either the 7F, 3D 1G format, or the 8 skaters(F/D) 1 G route. The Panther Parkway guys are in agreement that the 7-3-1 format is the best route, because would you rather protect 11 total players or 9?

A reminder that players on the No Movement Clauses are automatically protected from the expansion draft unless they were asked to waive it. Those players are: Jonathan Huberdeau, Aaron Ekblad, Sergei Bobrovsky, and Keith Yandle(bought out)

So here are the following predictions from the Panther Parkway guys:

Joey Ganzi:

F: Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Patric Hornqvist, Sam Bennett, Mason Marchment, Frank Vatrano, Noel Acciari,

D: Aaron Ekblad, Mackenzie Weegar, Keith Yandle*

G: Sergei Bobrovsky

Jacob Winans:

F: Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Patric Hornqvist, Sam Bennett, Frank Vatrano, Anthony Duclair, Carter Verhaeghe,

D: Gustav Forsling, Mackenzie Weegar, Aaron Ekblad.

G: Sergei Bobrovsky

Tom McLean: 

F: Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Carter Verhaeghe, Sam Bennett, Mason Marchment, Noel Acciair, Anthony Duclair

D: Aaron Ekblad, Mackenzie Weegar, Keith Yandle*

G: Sergei Bobrovsky

Nick Fairbanks: 

F: Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Sam Bennett, Carter Verhaeghe, Frank Vatrano, Mason Marchment, Patric Hornqvist

D: Aaron Ekblad, Mackenzie Weegar, Gustav Forsling

G: Sergei Bobrovsky

Armando Velez:

F: Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Sam Bennett, Carter Verhaghe, Frank Vatrano, Mason Marchment, Noel Acciari

D: Aaron Ekblad, Mackenzie Weegar, Gustav Forsling

G: Sergei Bobrovsky

Frank Rekas:

F: Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Sam Bennett, Carter Verhaghe, Frank Vatrano, Mason Marchment, Patric Hornqvist

D: Aaron Ekblad, Mackenzie Weegar, Gus Forsling

G: Sergei Bobrovsky

Again, these protections were submitted Wednesday, July 14th. Now that the moves of Keith Yandle being bought and Both RFA’s D Gustav Forsling and F Anthony Duclair were extended, there is more writing on the wall of who the Locks are for the protection list as it stands right now.

Here are the Protection List Locks in my opinion after the following moves were made by Bill Zito on July 15th.


  1. Aleksander Barkov
  2. Jonathan Huberdeau(NMC)
  3. Sam Bennett
  4. Carter Verhaghe
  5. Anthony Duclair
  6. ???
  7. ???


  1. Aaron Ekblad(NMC)
  2. Mackenzie Weegar
  3. Gustav Forsling


  1. Sergei Bobrovsky(NMC)

That leaves a few unknowns for the forwards, if the Panthers were to protect any more defensemen, that means they would have to go the 8 skaters 1 goalie route, and that leaves 2 additional players exposed. The Panthers are trying to run it back, not risk losing an additional forward that was part of their offensive firepower that led them to 2nd place in the Central Division this past season.

So 4 players are unknowns, but you can only pick 2. The following unknowns are Patric Hornqvist, Frank Vatrano, Mason Marchment, and Noel Acciari.

Bill Zito has a lot to think about as we approach the 3 pm Trade/player signing freeze and the 5 pm Protection List Deadline to submit to the NHL/NHLPA.

We will find out the full list on Sunday, July 18th and I will be discussing the list on Monday’s episode of Locked On Panthers. Make sure to Tune in!

Thanks for reading this article! You can follow along with Panther Parkway @pantherparkway on Twitter! You can also follow our writers: @FrankRekas,@Mandoman12, @JacobWinans8, @Spencer_hoag, @prudentia0, @Mister_Joester! Make sure to follow and listen to the Panther Parkway Podcast(@PantherParkway) with Tom McLean and Jacob Winans, and the Locked On Panthers Podcast(@LO_FlaPanthers) with Armando Velez. All images unless otherwise noted are courtesy of @KimSmithImages

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