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Conclusion of Expansion Draft Battle Royale

Back in early September, we took a look which players needed to work hard for the final games of the season to earn a protected position for the upcoming Expansion Draft in the off-season. Now we want to know which players improved and who flopped.

Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

So, that's it? That's it. 2014 is done and hopefully forgotten as quickly as Chris Klute's cornrows. Focus now shifts to what exactly can possibly be done to ensure this NEVER happens again. One tool in that process? Keeping key players during this year's Expansion Draft.

We talked about possible protected players a few weeks back and asked what players needed to prove themselves in order to stay with Rapids. For those still hazy on the Expansion Draft process, check out that article as we explain how things work. Below is the tentative list I created for that article based on players' performances at that time.

Virtual Locks
Dillon Powers
Deshorn Brown
Clint Irwin
Chris Klute
Drew Moor

Jared Watts

On the Bubble
Nick Labrocca
Jose Mari
Vicente Sanchez

The Rapids have played eight games since that list was created. Have there been any changes in your mind? Did any players stand out in those eight abysmal games? Jose Mari may very well have upped his stock. Has Eloundou earned a place here? After Pablo's musical chairs game with the Goalkeeper position, is Irwin still a lock?

For me, however, if we're talking about who was the most creative down the stretch? The catalyst for change within a languishing environment of negativity? It's got to be Pablo's new goatee. He said goodbye to the old soul patch & stubble and hello to a full-on, V For Vendetta, Van Dyke goatee. It was easily the most progressive piece on the Rapids roster through the final games of the season, and consistently showed growth in each game.

But that's just me! What do you think Burgundy Wave community? Let us know who you believe made and missed the final cut for the 11 protected Rapids players for the Expansion Draft. Remember, Homegrown and Generation Adidas players are automatically protected and do not count towards the 11 (that means Serna, O'Neill, and Hairston are locks). Have at it!