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NHL roster freeze for expansion draft goes into effect today

It may be summer time, but the NHL is about to get a little chilly for the next five days.

At 3 p.m. this afternoon, a trade and waiver freeze goes into effect, locking rosters into place as the Team 32, the Seattle Kraken prepare for the 2021 Expansion Draft. The expansion draft picks will be announced on Wednesday, July 21,  at 8 p.m. on ESPN2.

Seattle will be the only team allowed to sign players to contracts during this period, and they can also make “side-deals” with the existing teams that will be finalized by the NHL once the freeze is lifted.

The New York Islanders traded defenseman Nick Leddy to the Detroit Red Wings to beat the deadline and avoid exposing him to the Kraken. In exchange for Leddy, Detroit sent forward Richard Panik and the 52nd pick in next week’s NHL Entry Draft to the Islanders.

Teams (except for Vegas) must submit their protection lists to the the league by 5 p.m. this afternoon.

Tomorrow, the NHL will review and approve the protection lists and distribute them around the league by 10 a.m. Once that happens, Seattle is free to negotiate with the all UFAs and RFAs that have been left exposed. They can sign these free agents to contracts (one per team) and that player will count as the expansion draft from his prior team.

The freeze will be lifted on Thursday, July 22 at 1 p.m. After that point, all the teams will return to normal operations and proceed to the entry draft portion of this truncated offseason on July 23, when the first round of the 2021 Draft will be held virtually.

The last bit of business the Florida Panthers must attend to is either qualify restricted free agent goaltender Sam Montembeault or sign another goalie to a contract. As far as I know, the Cats are not yet compliant with the expansion draft rules because, unless I missed it, Montembeault has yet to receive his qualifying offer from the club.

Teams must expose one goalie who is under contract in 2021-22 or will be a restricted free agent at the end of his current contract immediately prior to 2021-22. If a team elects to make a restricted free agent goalie available to meet this requirement, that goalie must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the team’s protected list.