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Who Your Favorite Team Should Protect (But Won't): Buffalo Sabres

In a fun swing of events, has you covered today for all of your expansion draft protection needs. Why today? Well, there are two key deadlines this Saturday afternoon that can affect the entire landscape of the NHL.

The first is a roster freeze at 3pm EST, which prohibits and trades, signings, and player movement ahead of Wednesday's expansion draft. This freeze allows the Seattle Kraken management to zero in on exact targets from each NHL team without any further ambiguity.

The second deadline, of course, is the 5pm EST deadline for all teams to submit their protected player lists. This is the final list of players (either seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie, or eight skaters and one goalie) that the Kraken cannot select in Wednesday's draft.

This also, of course, reveals who is exposed to Seattle, who is allow to select one player from each team. It is expected that side deals will by made to allow NHL GM's to protect an extra player or dictate who the Kraken take by giving up an additional asset, so things could get even more interesting.

Ahead of the protection list deadline, we will be revealing what our version of the protection lists should look like for each NHL team, based off of a player's GDV (Goal Differential Value), contract, and aging curves. GDV is a PuckLuck exclusive metric used to measure each player's value on goal differential for each game, allowing us to project each NHL game throughout the year with success.

We will be revealing one team every 15 minutes leading up to the 5pm deadline, so be sure to follow along throughout the day to see what we come up with for your favorite team!

Next up? The Buffalo Sabres:

Protect (7-3-1): Rasmus Asplund, Anders Bjork, Jack Eichel, Casey Mittelstadt, Victor Olofsson, Sam Reinhart, Tage Thompson, William Borgen, Rasmus Dahlin, Henri Jokiharju, Linus Ullmark (UFA)

Exempt: Jacob Bryson, Dylan Cozens, Arttu Ruotsalainen, Mattias Samuelsson

UFA: Drake Caggiula, Brandon Davidson, Steven Fogarty, Matt Irwin, Tobias Rieder, Riley Sheahan, Carter Hutton, Michael Houser

Expose: Cody Eakin, Colin Miller, Kyle Okposo, Rasmus Ristolainen, Jeff Skinner (NMC-Waived), Dustin Tokarski

Skinner waiving his no-movement clause justifies protecting Thompson and Asplund, leaving little question to the rest of this position. While Skinner remains one of Buffalo's best forwards, his $9 million cap hit makes him an unlikely target for Seattle.

Things could get interesting on defense, as Ristolainen's name is popping up on the trade market. If a trade isn't pulled off by 3pm EST, it's possible he is protected just to be traded at a later date. In this case, Borgen would likely fall susceptible to expansion selection.

The Sabres have to expose Tokarski to the Kraken, leaving limited options for protection. The hope in Buffalo is that Ullmark re-signs with the club, so he is the obvious choice here.

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