We now know who might be available for Vegas this week.
The NHL announced Sunday morning which players have been protected by their teams for the upcoming expansion draft. The incoming Vegas Golden Knights can begin to take shape now that they know who’s available to them.
The full list of unprotected players is available here, at TSN.ca. Each team had the option to protect either seven forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie, or eight skaters and a goalie.
Vegas has a couple of days to make their selections, before they have to announce their team at the NHL Awards this Wednesday, June 21. The Golden Knights are allowed to take one player from each of the other 30 teams, but there are rumors that some teams have made deals with the expansion franchise to not take their unprotected players.
Such is the case with the Anaheim Ducks, who left defensemen Josh Manson and Sami Vatanen exposed because Kevin Bieksa’s contract forces them to protect him. They apparently have a deal in place with Vegas to leave their young blueliners alone.
In a few situations, it’s easy to pick which players are likely heading to Vegas. Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury made headlines this week, waiving his no-movement clause so that he can be made available. He’s likely to be the Golden Knights’ starting netminder next season.
Vegas will almost certainly have a strong goaltending tandem next year. Detroit Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek and Roberto Luongo of the Florida Panthers are both available, as is Antti Raanta of the New York Rangers. As for the rest of the team, the pickings are a little slimmer.
There are some talented players left exposed for GM George McPhee to pick from. Nashville Predator James Neal was one surprise on the unprotected list, and Marian Gaborik of the Los Angeles Kings is also available, if Vegas is willing to take on his contract. Minnesota’s Matt Dumba is one of the few good youngsters that could help the Golden Knights in the future.