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View From the Booth - July 16, 2021

Play-by-Play voice Paul Edmonds gives his take on the Expansion Draft

by Paul Edmonds @UtilityVoice / WinnipegJets.com

WINNIPEG - If you're a fan of home renovation shows, then it's easily understood that the most exciting part of each episode is near the end when "the big reveal" takes place.

It's the point where the finished product is unveiled and viewers can assess the level of enhancement.

The Winnipeg Jets will provide us with something akin to that type of emotion this Sunday when they - and the rest of the National Hockey League teams - release their expansion draft protected lists.

Similar to when the Vegas Golden Knights entered the league five years ago, the Seattle Kraken will be able to select a maximum of one player from every club - except Vegas who are exempt - on July 21st as they to start to build their roster in advance of officially hitting the ice this fall.

As such, when Winnipeg's list is announced it's expected to be devoid of any shocking revelations. 

Outside of the obvious choices like Mark Scheifele, Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers and Blake Wheeler for example, there's little to debate about the document's contents, including defenceman Logan Stanley's name.

With the options to protect a goalie, seven forwards and three defenceman, or eight total skaters and one goalie, the list fills up quickly, especially on the back end where stalwarts Josh Morrissey and Neal Pionk are already etched in permanent ink. 

And while it might be suggested Stanley's inclusion as the third and final rearguard on the list is a calculated risk for a player with only 37 NHL games of experience, it really isn't when you consider the assets he already possesses and the quick climb to a projected talent ceiling that he'll likely be bumping his head on as quickly as the next season or two.

At six-foot-seven and 231 pounds, Stanley is not only complete with physical size, but he has tremendous skating ability, puck handling and shooting skills and an aggressive bite to his game, something the Jets don't possess in spades - especially on the blueline.

These attributes make him a rare breed in today's NHL and at just 23-years-old, the comparisons are vivid to what his entire skill package could eventually provide the Jets for years to come.

Names like Zdeno Chara, Victor Hedman and Dougie Hamilton - all blueline giants - are a coveted commodity for their size, proficiency and longevity at their position. They are unicorns at their craft and hugely important pieces to their teams in more ways than one.

As a result, leaving Stanley exposed would likely have the Kraken wrapping their tentacles around him quickly and tightly with a gloating smile like Davey Jones on the Flying Dutchman in possession of their newly claimed bounty. Players as big and skilled as Stanley do not surface often in any transactional format.

When he was picked by Winnipeg in the first round (18th overall) in 2016 NHL Draft, the quote from one Jets' administrator was Stanley was likely "two years away from being two years away" from playing in the NHL.

But after watching him this past season develop and flourish at the NHL level, he appears to be right on schedule for a team that's still transitioning a defensive corps that lost four key contributors in a single off-season two years ago.

"When there's good young players that can come in and help, then we want to have them in our lineup," said Jets' head coach Paul Maurice in his post-season availability with the Winnipeg media.

"I don't think we've slow-played a young player. Logan needed all that time (in the AHL) and then some time in the NHL and now I think we have a really unusual player: a man that big that can handle the puck a little bit." 

After two solid seasons with the Manitoba Moose under former head coach Pascal Vincent, Stanley arrived this past campaign and quickly made a solid and important impression on the Jets coaches, teammates and fans.

As the season progressed, he ultimately cemented himself as a key piece to their blueline - primarily for what he provided physically - and his adept emergence as an authentic NHLer has become too profound to overlook as a player not worthy of protecting from Seattle.

Thus, when it comes to the announcement this weekend of the Jets expansion protected list, the only shocking revelation would be if Stanley's name wasn't on it.

LANDING GEAR: Stanley is one of three Jets' restricted free agents (RFA) that will require a new contract before next season. The others are Neal Pionk and Andrew Copp. 

Be sure to check out our special edition Fly-By Podcasts starting this weekend as Jamie Thomas and myself present two in-depth previews into next weekend's (July 23 & 24) NHL Draft. We are hoping to include a mailbag segment in this space in the future. Please submit questions to @utilityvoice on Twitter.

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