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Who Will Blackhawks Protect in NHL Expansion Draft?

19 June 2017

The Fleury-to-Vegas speculation ignited what is sure to be a chaotic two-week period in which the expansion and entry drafts are expected to be accompanied by a flurry of trades that will, in the end, fill the roster of McPhee's squad.

Now it's on Golden Knights general manager George McPhee to spend the next three days poring over the list of available players as the team selects one from each of the NHL's 30 teams. The inaugural Golden Knights roster must be made up of 14 forwards, nine defenseman, and three goaltenders. "That really didn't happen, which we were really happy about", said McPhee. Sunday, June 18: Protection lists are approved and distributed to teams and the NHL Players' Association.

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. Fleury was nearly traded at the deadline due to the Penguins already having Matt Murray in net but they chose to keep him for their playoff run; a good decision as Fleury starred in the first two rounds with Murray nursing an injury. Ryan has five years left on a seven-year $50.8 million contract and represents a $7-plus-million cap hit. For what it's worth, Wild forward Jason Zucker is a Las Vegas native so the allure of drafting a hometown player may come into effect. To keep Nate on the team, the Capitals would have to trade a player or prospects that could turn out to be worth more than Schmidt or outbid another team's offer to Vegas for the player.

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Impending unrestricted free agent forward Patrick Sharp is also preemptively available to Vegas during their exclusive 72-hour free agency window (which would preclude Dallas losing anyone else via the expansion draft) but that does not seem to be a probable outcome.

Antti Raanta, Michael Grabner, Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast appear to be the consensus choices as the top candidates to be selected by the Golden Knights by Wednesday.

The NHL announced Sunday morning which players have been protected by their teams for the upcoming expansion draft. Among the juicier ones: The Tennessean's Adam Vignan reports that the Nashville Predators might protect Calle Jarnkrok, potentially exposing James Neal. With too many quality defenders to protect, both have been reportedly seeking trades.

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While the Blues must be prepared to lose one of their assets, it's possible that they could have some say in the proceedings, even beyond the protected list.

The Columbus Blue Jackets have a trade in place with the Vegas Golden Knights, as TFP has already reported, but the parameters of the deal are coming to life.

National Hockey League plans to publicly release teams' protection lists about 10 a.m.

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While Washington would still likely trade Grubauer in this scenario, they would at least be able to get something for him.

Who Will Blackhawks Protect in NHL Expansion Draft?