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Hypothetical NHL Expansion Draft And You: New York Rangers Edition

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So you want to learn more about the hypothetical expansion draft ...

Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

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Let's jump right in!

The Rules:

The rules we don't know what they mean yet:

Why is this a big deal? Because depending on when the expansion draft happens, players with a NMC (cough Dan Girardi and Marc Staal cough) would not be able to be left in the open for the new team to take. What's worse is it's unknown whether or not Girardi and Staal would simply be auto-protected or if the Rangers would be FORCED to use a protection slot on both of them. That's obviously a pretty enormous decision because it would fill two of the Rangers three allotted spots for a defenseman. Good luck, Jeff Gorton!

Players who would be auto-protected (that you care about):

Brady Skjei -- Skjei did play in the AHL last year, but it was part of an tryout contract rather than burning a year off his ELC. As is such, I do not imagine he would lose a year there. Under that assumption, Skjei would be auto-protected through the 2017 season.

Pavel Buchnevich -- Has not played a single year of "professional hockey" (KHL doesn't count in this language) so he's auto-protected for at least two years after this one -- assuming he comes to the AHL or NHL this summer.

Kevin Hayes (through the summer of 2016) -- Hayes would be auto-protected in the event of an expansion this summer. If expansion happens next summer the Rangers would need to protect him because he would have utilized two years of professional service.

Forwards who would need to be protected (that you care about):

J.T. Miller, Chris Kreider, Derek Stepan, Rick Nash, Derick Brassard, Mats Zuccarello, Jesper Fast Tanner Glass and Oscar Lindberg (played two years of AHL service before this year so he's open to be taken).

So you'd have to pick seven of those eight players to keep around. Do you allow Nash to get plucked for nothing? Do the Rangers allow Lindberg to hang in the balance because they appear poised to scratch him for the playoffs anyway? The horrifying realities are endless ...

Also, assuming the expansion happens next year you can lump Hayes into this list as well. Fun all around.

I did not include pending UFAs who the Rangers most likely will not be able to keep (Viktor Stalber, Eric Staal and Dominic Moore). Chances the Rangers protect Glass?

Defensemen who would need to be protected (that you care about):

Ryan McDonagh, Dylan McIlrath, Kevin Klein and Keith Yandle (if the Rangers actually keep him around). IF the Rangers have to fill their spots with NMC-holding players then they would only have one open slot this summer and next summer. And if expansion happens in 2017 that means you have to add Skjei to this list, too.

Can you imagine having to choose between keeping one of Yandle, Skjei, McIlrath and McDonagh? I mean, honestly, this might be the biggest disaster the Rangers will have happen to them in recent memory -- and that's saying something after the 2014 summer debacle.

That doesn't even include if two teams get approved where two of those four players would get plucked for nothing. Yikes.

Goalies who would need to be protected (that you care about):

Henrik Lundqvist. Teams can only keep one goalie. I'm not sure the Rangers would be willing to let him leave for nothing. This would, however, leave Mackenzie Skapski open for being chosen, although I doubt an expansion team would take a flier on such a young risk.

Overall outlook?

The defensive situation is pure panic. I mean, heart-wrenching, face-melting, screaming in terror while in a dead sleep panic.

The forward situation is relatively fluid, since prospects are fully protected and by the time the Rangers would need to worry about Buchnevich they'd probably look quite differently.

Still, none of this seems fun.