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2012 MLS Expansion Draft. Who to Protect

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This group has led to some happy times for Toronto fans but could any of them be heading to Montreal in the expansion draft?
This group has led to some happy times for Toronto fans but could any of them be heading to Montreal in the expansion draft?

So the MLS expansion draft has been set for November 23rd.  The simplest way to explain what the expansion draft is would be that to say that all of the years expansion teams, in this case only the Montreal Impact, are given the chance to select players from other MLS teams.  This draft takes place in 10 rounds where the Impact are able to select one player each round and can only take one player from each team.  So this means that Montreal will be able to pick a player from 10 of the other 18 teams in the MLS allowing them to fill out their roster much faster than if they were forced to build their entire team through signings.  The other element of this draft is the fact that each team is allowed to submit a list of 11 players from their on-budget and off-budget rosters that they have decided to protect.  This means that the teams with the most quality depth are actually the ones who are the most vulnerable to losing talent in the expansion draft.  For TFC there is a real possibility that not a single one of their players ends up getting selected by the Impact but it is still worth considering who they might decide to leave unprotected and could potentially go.

To understand who Toronto would have to protect in their list of eleven it is key to first try and break down the rules for the expansion draft.  The first rule of the draft is that all players on both the on-budget and off-budget are involved, even the ones who are set to have their contracts expire this off season.  It is also important to note that protecting a player who's contract is set to expire does not mean the club would be forced to resign that player.  Any player who is set to retire does not need to be protected, so Seattle does not need to protect Kasey Keller, but it does mean that they will lose the rights to the player should they decide to come back and play again. 

The next rule of the expansion draft makes it clear that home grown players and current Generation Adidas player, this does not include ones who expire after 2011, do not take part in the draft.  This means that a player like Ashtone Morgan or Peri Marosevic are both safe from being taken as the first is considered home grown and the second is still part of Generation Adidas.  

The draft gets a bit more confusing when you get to the rules about the number of international players a team must protect.  Say for example your club has 10 internationals on the roster then you may not make available more then 7 of them.  This rule will not be a problem for a club like TFC since some of the first names on the protected list are international players and that will be enough to make sure they fulfill this requirement.  For the case of Toronto FC as well as the Vancouver Whitecaps a foreign player is considered to be anyone who is non-American or non-Canadian. 

The last real rule of the draft is that Designated players are not automatically protected and if you want them to be they have to be included in the eleven.  In the case where a designated player has a no-trade clause in his contract then the club will be forced to include him in the list of eleven.  So now that your head hurts from the rules we will look deeper in to how this all impacts TFC.

First off the following players are all considered to be home grown and as such do not need to be protected, along with academy players of course:

Ashtone Morgan

Matt Stinson

Doneil Henry

Nicholas Lindsay

Oscar Cordon

Keith Makabuya

The team also does not need to protect Peri Marosevic who is still part of the Generation Adidas program.

So since Toronto does not have to protect any of these players that means the rest of the roster is left to decide who is going to be included in that list of eleven.  The following players are who I would protect, with some reasons why, if I were the one constructing the list.  I think that for the most part TFC fans would agree with almost the entire list except maybe the final name or two.

Milos Kocic: He has proven his value to the club and with there always being a chance of Stefan Frei moving on to Europe he is not someone that TFC can risk losing.

Stefan Frei: He fell off a little bit this season thanks to his injury and the performances of Kocic but he has proven ability and far too much value for the club to ever let him leave for nothing.

Torsten Frings: He is capable of playing all over the field and making a real difference.  In his short time with the club he has already proven his value as a leader, instructor, and of course as a talented player.  Frings still shows signs of his former world class self and is still capable of being a great MLS player despite his age.

Danny Koevermans: Nothing more needs to be said than to just tell you to look at his scoring record.  He has filled the net despite joining the team after a long layoff and often carrying small knocks.  Most TFC fans are positively giddy about the idea of seeing him after a full preseason as he continues to get used to the MLS.

Joao Plata: He has done more than enough to reward the faith that Toronto FC and Aron Winter showed in him by bringing him to the club.  It is pretty much a given that Plata will be back next season with a long term contract from the club given his performances in big games like the Voyageurs Cup final second leg and that now famous brace against FC Dallas in the CONCACAF Champions League.

Ryan Johnson: He has been quiet but very effective since joining the club and offers a real compliment to the two previously mentioned attacking players.  I think that Johnson is capable of being an impact player as well as a very good support striker for the team so he is certainly worth keeping around.

Eric Avila: With him being cup tied in the CCL we did not get to see quite as much of him as we did of many of the other new players but what I did see from him was enough to show that he has some real quality there.  He still needs to continue to progress but he represents the teams best option at attacking mid where he is capable of both scoring goals and being a creative play maker.

Terry Dunfield: Some fans might think that he should be left open since he did not do all that much since coming over from the Whitecaps.  But the real fact of the matter is that Toronto needs to keep some domestic talent around because of MLS roster rules.  They really should be focused on keeping Canadian talent and Dunfield is still a solid MLS level midfielder when he stay healthy.

Julian de Guzman: Hate on him all you like but he gets on this list for the same reason as Dunfield plus the fact that he is even better.  For me he is a given to protect because of the fact that he has recovered so much form since the roster makeover.  The club made a very large investment in JDG and now needs to keep him around in hopes it pays off going forward. 

Richard Eckersley: This one was a bit of a debate in my head since there is no guarantee that he will even come back to the MLS next season.  I added him based on the fact that I have heard several reports that he is unhappy with Burnley for how they have treated him and that Toronto FC are making progress in talks to sign him and set up his transfer to the MLS.  There is a decent chance now that he will be back with TFC and that means he should be protected.

Adrian Cann: He is probably the most debatable one on the list considering that he might not even want to come back next season and he might not be the same player he was before his injury.  Toronto is short of options at CB though and Cann is one name that I have a feeling Montreal would love to take as he has played for them before and would give them another piece of quality Canadian content

So that means the likes of Nick Soolsma, Andy Iro, Ty Harden, Nathan Sturgis, Dicoy Williams, Danleigh Borman, Eddy Viator, Matt Gold, Demitrius Omphroy, Javier Martina, Mikael Yourassowsky, Kyle Davies, and Gianluca Zavarise (probably missed some names here) would all be left unprotected and available for Montreal to select.  Somehow I can't see them being all that interested in too many of the names on this list considering the other 17 MLS teams are likely going to be leaving some better quality players unprotected.  I would say that Toronto has a very good chance of avoiding losing anyone to the Impact in this draft and even if they do, it likely won't be that painful of a loss.  The fact of the matter is that Toronto is not very deep in quality players so not much to worry about here.