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NHL Releases Protection Lists; Expansion Draft Officially Underway

The time is here, the Golden Knights are on the clock. George McPhee and his staff have been delivered the Expansion Draft protection and exposure lists, and now have 72 hours to select their 30 players. During this same 72 hour period, Vegas has an exclusive window to negotiate with unrestricted free agents not protected. If they sign a player during this window, it will count as the Golden Knights selection from that player’s former team.

The NHL has emailed the protection lists to the Golden Knights, the NHLPA, and the media. We have posted them below.

We are currently taking a look at the lists and we will post our observations below.

Observations

  • Neither Manson nor Vatanaen are protected for the Anaheim Ducks. Almost certainly a deal in place to lay off one or the other, or both. Ducks do NOT have a 1st round pick in 2017 Draft.
  • Minnesota has protected Jason Zucker, so Vegas fans can let that dream die.
  • However, the Wild did leave Matt Dumba, Erik Haula, Eric Staal, Marco Scandella, and Gustav Olofsson exposed. Vegas will get either an excellent player, or flip for a solid asset.
  • Nashville protected Calle Jarnkrok, leaving James Neal exposed. Other options include Aberg, Sissons, or even Mike Fisher.
  • No surprises out of Chicago. Kruger and van Riesmdyk are available. Young defensemen Ville Pokka is also exposed. The deal that most have been reporting is likely to come through.
  • Matt Moulson is available. Remember, McPhee is the Godfather to Moulson’s wife. Buffalo also left Franson, Bogosian, Kulikov, and Ullmark exposed.
  • Marc Andre-Fleury is exposed, as expected. But still, no guarantee he’s going to be playing in Vegas. He’ll likely be selected, but Vegas must take three goalies, so at least two other teams will be losing a goalie. He could possibly be flipped to one of those teams.
  • Washington remains one of the most interesting teams to watch what Vegas does with. Nate Schmidt is the big name left exposed, but Phillipp Grubauer, Brooks Orpik, and Karl Alzner are also available and Kevin Shattenkirk is a UFA. McPhee’s vast knowledge of that roster could lead to a surprise there though. (Pheonix Copely?)
  • Keep your eye on Xavier Ouellet who is exposed from Detroit. Most have the Golden Knights picking Riley Sheahan, but the Ouellet could be the steal of the Expansion Draft.
  • The top three players picked by experts to be selected from Colorado have all been protected. Carl Soderberg is the new consensus pick. Mikhail Grigorenko and Patrick Wiercioch are close behind.
  • Dallas did protect Valeri Nichushkin. They must expect him back from Russia.
  • Tampa Bay found a way to protect both Killorn and Namestnikov. Highest remaining available players are J.T. Brown, Cedric Paquette, and Slater Koekkoek.
  • ARI, FLA, LA, NSH, NJD, NYI, and PIT used the 8/1 protection format. Only NYI protected 5 defensemen.

Here are the lists…

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Dreger Drops Some Expansion Protection List Heat

Are the Vegas Golden Knights helping the NHL’s attention and popularity? TSN’s Darren Dreger suggested the positive impact expansion has had on the league could’ve been a reason the NHL decided to reveal expansion lists.

I think they would had to have heard and recognize some of the backlash mostly coming from the media. And maybe the marketing people internally, with the National Hockey League also recognized that this is missed opportunity. You want as many layers of media talking about expansion, the Vegas Golden Knights, speculating, reporting… It just adds another level of excitement. Darren Dreger, TSN

Dreger went on to say public intrigue has been noticeable this season and the NHL wants to continue the ride. Making the expansion draft more fan friendly will only benefit the league’s popularity. Specifically, with the fans of the Golden Knights. Dreger also discussed the reaction some players would have once the expansion list was revealed.

I think there will be players who feel jilted by the fact that their general manager had to make a tough call. There’s definitely going to players unhappy. -Dreger

What’s worse for the jilted player? Being drafted by Vegas or being forced to go back to the team that left you high and dry? Let’s start with the obvious, what drafted player is really going to be pissed to move to Vegas? Sure, Michael Grabner may be sour because the Rangers let him go, but it can’t last long. Between the weather, cost of living, and “entertainment,” most players will be happy they got the call from George McPhee. Plus, most players selected will be happy to play in Las Vegas is because of the clean slate offered here. More ice time and better opportunities don’t come often to a career third or fourth line player. In a sense, Vegas offers each player more than just playing time and low taxes. It’s a chance to make a serious impact in a city without stars like Crosby, Stamkos or Doughty.

Half the fanbase in Las Vegas will know the players and their career. In some cities Dale Weise would get questioned about his underachieving career. In Las Vegas, Weise will be asked if he’s ate at Lindo Michoacán yet. It’s a free pass for everyone with a past. In a way, Las Vegas doesn’t really care about what anyone did before. That alone is enough of a draw for some players to secretly pray to be on the move.

Now other teams may be slightly rocky after the expansion drama. I’m sure the Senators will send Bobby Ryan a care package with potpourri and soft rock mix tapes after McPhee passes. After the expansion draft, 30 other teams will be spending the summer repairing relationships. In Vegas, it’ll be nothing but free lunches, meet and greets and goofy questions from the SinBin.vegas. That alone is a reason any player should embrace expansion.

Expansion Draft Protection Lists Will Be Made Public

UPDATE (9:55 AM 3/30/17) – We’re being told that plans on the NHL Awards Show are still fluid, which will impact the Golden Knights Expansion Draft reveal.

Multiple sources indicated weeks ago that The Park Theatre would be used to house the Awards with T-Mobile Arena being the home to the Expansion Draft reveal. Now, it looks like they are considering putting both events together at T-Mobile. Nothing is confirmed on either the Awards or the Expansion reveal at this time.

If the Awards show coincides in the same building with the Expansion reveal, there will almost certainly be a ticket price to get in.

***

And just like that, the Expansion Draft protection list saga is over, and the good guys win.

Those lists are set to be submitted to the NHL by 2:00 P.M. PT on Saturday, June 17th. Vegas then has three days to get their 30 selections in, and they will then be revealed in a nationally televised, free to attend event at T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday June 21st.

The general managers spoke out against the lists being made public, and The Creator even said he prefers they remain secret until the reveal on the 21st.

After a lot of internal discussion following the General Managers meeting, we determined it would be best to disclose those lists publicly. One of our guiding principles from the start of this process was to prioritize transparency, and certainly here, keeping the lists private would not have promoted that particular objective. –Bill Daly, NHL Deputy Commissioner to NHL.com

But cooler heads prevailed and the world will get to play “armchair McPhee” and pick their 30 from the list of available players right along with the Vegas GM.

Man, June is going to be fun.

The Creator Wants Protection Lists Kept Secret, He’s Wrong And Here’s Why

The visibility of the Expansion Draft protections lists is shaping up to be quite the war between the public and the powers that be in the NHL. The GMs made it rather clear at their meetings in Boca Raton, FL a few weeks ago that they had no interest in allowing the world to see what’s going on behind the scenes of their organization, and more importantly open them up to criticism on Expansion Draft errors.

That’s all makes sense, but as a member of the working hockey media, it’s rather difficult to feel too bad for 31 gentleman who each hold one of the most envious positions in the NHL and are compensated handsomely to do the job.

But now, our own front man has come out against making the lists public, and his reasoning is completely different than that of his top employee and McPhee’s 30 colleagues.

I’d rather not have them be public. I’d rather we know what each team has left unprotected and we make our picks and it’s a big surprise. I think there’s going to be a lot of leaks though. I found one thing about the NHL that … everyone talks. So what we do is we don’t tell anybody anything. I think the impact of us announcing the people we pick from our expansion draft picks – particularly if the list of unprotected people is not made public is more dramatic, it’ll be more of a surprise. –The Creator to Puck Daddy

Now he does have a point, there’s definitely a level of interest that could be gained by having the Expansion Draft reveal be this massive surprise, but it’s a short sighted way of looking at the situation.

If the lists are made public, there will be at least three full days of speculation in which the words ‘Golden Knights’ will be at the center of. The surprise may be bigger (I disagree, and will address that in a second), but it’s also shorter.

If we learned anything from the recent Presidential election it’s that being in the news is a good thing. Every day it was something else and you couldn’t surf a website, scroll a timeline, or watch a television program without hearing the word Trump. He dominated the talk and eventually parlayed it into becoming the most powerful man in the world.

Every media member, every blogger, every fan of the sport will toy with the lists with their mind constantly on one thing, “which of these guys is going to be a Golden Knight.” VGK will be trending for a week rather than an hour.

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