The NHL will welcome in a 32nd franchise for the 2021-22 season meaning teams will once again face losing a player in an expansion draft. The draft is set for June 2021. Just as with the Vegas draft, the Capitals are guaranteed to lose a player to the new team.
That may seem like a ways off, but it will actually have an impact on every player move Washington makes from now until then.
Washington currently has seven players on its NHL roster who will still be under contract during the summer of 2021. Three of their biggest names, however, will not. Both Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby’s contracts expire in 2020 and Alex Ovechkin’s current contract is set to expire at the end of the 2020-21 season.
Given how things played out in the Vegas expansion, the most intriguing name is Holtby considering that the Caps could find themselves in a similar situation as the Pittsburgh Penguins did with Vegas leading to Marc-Andre Fleury becoming the franchise player for the Golden Knights.
By the rules of the expansion draft, the Capitals will only be able to protect one goalie from the draft so general manager Brian MacLellan will be forced to choose between Holtby and Ilya Samsonov.