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2021 NHL Expansion Draft

FINAL LIST: Penguins Protect Carter, Leave Tanev, ZAR Unprotected for Seattle



Pittsburgh Penguins Brandon Tanev, Zach Aston-Reese

The Pittsburgh Penguins and GM Ron Hextall decided that center Jeff Carter was worth keeping around, and the risk of losing him to the Seattle Kraken was worth trading Jared McCann and exposing crash-and-bang winger Brandon Tanev.

Carter scored 13 goals in 20 games, including four markers in the Penguins’ six-game Round One loss to the New York Islanders.

Sunday morning, the NHL released the Seattle Kraken expansion draft list. Teams could protect seven forwards, three defenders and one goalie, or eight skaters and one netminder.

The Penguins opted for the usual 7-3-1 format. Stick tap to Mike Defabo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, who first confirmed the list. Credit where it’s due.

Pittsburgh Penguins Protected List


  1. Sidney Crosby
  2. Evgeni Malkin
  3. Jake Guentzel
  4. Bryan Rust
  5. Kaserpi Kapanen
  6. Jeff Carter
  7. Teddy Blueger


  1. Kris Letang
  2. Brian Dumoulin
  3. Mike Matheson


Tristan Jarry

Pittsburgh Penguins Analysis

Notable Unprotected

F-Jason Zucker

D- Marcus Pettersson

D-Mark Friedman

D-Juuso Riikola

G-Casey DeSmith

The Full Unprotected List:

  • Pontus Aberg (F)
  • Anthony Angello (F)
  • Zach Aston-Reese (F)
  • Josh Currie (F)
  • Frederick Gaudreau (F)
  • Mark Jankowski (F)
  • Sam Lafferty (F)
  • Sam Miletic (F)
  • Evan Rodrigues (F)
  • Colton Sceviour (F)
  • Brandon Tanev (F)
  • Jason Zucker (F)
  • Cody Ceci (D)
  • Kevin Czuczman (D)
  • Mark Friedman (D)
  • Jesper Lindgren (D)
  • Andrey Pedan (D)
  • Marcus Pettersson (D)
  • Juuso Riikola (D)
  • Chad Ruhwedel (D)
  • Yannick Weber (D)
  • Casey DeSmith (G)
  • Maxime Lagace (G)

Confirming the PHN report of Saturday, the Penguins did protect Carter after Hextall dealt forward Jared McCann to Toronto for prospect Filip Hallander and a seventh-round pick. Hollander has played the last few seasons in the Swedish Elite League and was the Penguins 2018 second-round pick. He was part of the package the Penguins sent to Toronto last August for Kasperi Kapanen.

The organization clearly emphasized remaining strong in the middle. Keeping Carter will give the Penguins a capable second-line center while Evgeni Malkin recuperates from offseason knee surgery. Malkin will miss the start of training camp, but no other timeline is available. If Malkin suffered a tear or underwent tendon surgery as he did in 2011, a 4-6 month absence is typical.

Blueger will slot as the third line center until Malkin’s return.

However, Blueger’s line could be disrupted as both Zach Aston-Reese and Tanev are exposed. The Aston-Reese–Blueger–Tanev line has been a shutdown line for Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan. In the 17 games they played together last season, often matched against the opponent’s top line, they scored six goals but allowed none.

Both Tanev and Aston-Reese received Selke Award votes in 2020. Aston-Reese, 26, scored 15 points, including a career-best nine goals in 45 games this season. Tanev also set a personal best with .5 points per game. He scored 16 points (7-9-16) in 32 games.

Aston-Reese is an RFA with arbitration rights. PHN recently estimated his salary expectation in the $2.25 million range.

The Pittsburgh Penguins also exposed expensive LW Jason Zucker, whose $5.5 million cap hit makes his selection less likely. The Penguins acquired Zucker from the Minnesota Wild for a first-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, top defenseman prospect Calen Addison, and struggling winger Alex Galchenyuk.

Backup goalie Casey DeSmith was also left unprotected as the team predictably protected starter Tristan Jarry. DeSmith suffered a late-season lower-body injury and was not available in the playoffs. Despite contrary reports, Jarry was protected after an increasingly good regular season in which he posted a .909 save percentage and a 25-9-3 record. He also had four assists.

Reader Poll:

Who will the Seattle Kraken select? (Editor’s Note, we’ve added Jason Zucker to the poll and reset the votes).

Who Will Seattle Kraken Select

  • Zach Aston-Reese (25%, 145 Votes)
  • Marcus Pettersson (11%, 65 Votes)
  • Jason Zucker (18%, 103 Votes)
  • Brandon Tanev (45%, 260 Votes)

Total Voters: 907

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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6 months ago

Fack….I hope the team does not lose Tanev….

6 months ago
Reply to  Cal

I would think (actually hope) salary, years left on contract, and games lost to injury would make him a non taker.

Jeff Arnold
Jeff Arnold
6 months ago

Do the Kraken have to take one from each team?

6 months ago
Reply to  Jeff Arnold

Unless Francis does side deals they will. But I doubt they do as well as Vegas with side dealings

German Pens Fan
German Pens Fan
6 months ago

From my point of view Hextal did his best, definitely a smart GM. I hope the Pens will not loose Tanev. Best case would be Zucker or Petterson. If Francis choose Tanev I think the Pens will go hard after Hyman.

German Pens Fan
German Pens Fan
6 months ago
Reply to  Dan Kingerski

Thanks Dan for adding Zucker. I suppose most fans want that Francis takes Zucker. I like Zucker but he is not an ideal fit on the second line.

6 months ago

Tanev is a fourth liner, for crying out loud. Do I like him on the Pens? Absolutely. But I value what Carter has brought more than what Tanev can bring.

And only in Pittsburgh could a portion of the fan base demand to trade a future Hall of Famer for who knows what, but be apoplectic about the possibility of losing a fourth liner in the draft.

I hope that the Kraken take Zucker, or if not Pettersen. But if they take Tanev it will be a lot easier to find a Tanev replacement than a Carter replacement.

6 months ago

I am right there with the sentiment of jackw. I appreciate the team won the division and have played well in the prior two seasons. But the measure of a team is playoff performance and the raw facts say that the team has been an abysmal failure for three years. So barring insane decisions too obvious to write here I am wondering why there should be much anxiety of who is or who is not on an expansion draft list. There is nothing to dislike about Tanev and while he has been disappointing Zucker has been an honest team member.… Read more »

Peter Hoffman
Peter Hoffman
6 months ago

Carter was great last year. Turbo will be MUCH better in the next 5 years! Hopefully Hex is dealing!

6 months ago

Toldja Carter would be protected…

Jason Kirklin
Jason Kirklin(@jkirew)
6 months ago

Clearing space for Dougie Hamilton. Tanev, Zucker, petterson, or multiple out of the picture makes that possible.

William Maloni
William Maloni(@boysdad)
6 months ago
Reply to  Jason Kirklin

Don’t want another “Jack Johnson,” which is what Dougie represents.

Big B
Big B
6 months ago
Reply to  William Maloni

Are you serious?

Big B
Big B
6 months ago

Toronto did not protect Jared Lemieux, sorry i meann McCann.Going with yesterdays reactions you would have thought we (and yes i me we DAN!) traded Crosby or Letang.

6 months ago

After thinking about it all day, I bet hextall made a deal with Francis that if he gave up McCann then they’d take on either the Petterson or Zucker contract. So hextall actually made a smart move by sending McCann to Toronto knowing he’d be left exposed and still not lose McCann for nothing. Hopefully. Or I’m wrong and we lost McCann and Tanev for nothing.

Ujn Hunter
6 months ago

How many goalies must Seattle pick? i.e. If they select Price and his GINORMOUS contract… would selecting Casey DeSmith make sense? I know there are reports of Dreiger (sp?) possibly signing… or maybe ZAR is cheap enough for Mr. FRANCHISE to get a decent player from the Pens while making room for Mr. Price in net?

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