Does Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury have to be protected in the Expansion Draft or not? That is the simple question, the answer however, is anything but simple.

The first rule we learned about in the proposed Expansion Draft is teams are only allowed to protect one goalie. They have two options on skaters, but it’s been confirmed by many league sources that in every draft scenario only one goalie can be protected.

That is the easy part.

Here’s where it gets more difficult. TSN’s Gary Lawless reported players with No Movement Clauses (NMC’s) must be protected while players with No Trade Clauses (NTC’s) do not have to be protected. The problem is, the contract of Marc-Andre Fleury falls somewhere in between.

(Fleury’s contract) also includes a limited no-movement clause, which essentially means he can’t be waived or sent to the minors, and a modified no-trade clause. It is believed to allow Fleury to, before each season, submit a list of 12 teams to which he cannot be traded –Dave Molinari, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

So… which is it? 

If partial no movement clauses do not force teams to protect players, Fleury will almost certainly be exposed and could very well end up between the pipes on opening night in Las Vegas.

But if it’s ruled an NMC is an NMC and he must be protected, things get interesting.

The Penguins would then have three options assuming they want to do everything they can to keep, or at least get value, for 21-year-old Matt Murray. First, they could trade Fleury to one of the 18 teams not listed on his limited NTC. Second, the Penguins could trade Murray to another team and would likely get a pretty significant package in return (but of course, they’d lose Murray). Or the third, and probably best and most likely option, they could utilize what’s called an “Expansion Trade.”

Don’t feel like clicking that link? Fine. The short explanation is that teams can trade assets (usually draft picks) in exchange for an agreement to not select an exposed player in the Expansion Draft. There has still been no confirmation these types of deals are allowed, but it’s almost certain they will be, as every GM in the league will want to have this option at his disposal. It would make perfect sense for both the Penguins and the new Las Vegas franchise to complete an Expansion Trade for Murray. Pittsburgh would probably rather give up a few picks and keep Murray rather than losing him in exchange for picks, and Las Vegas would love to collect future assets before even selecting their first player.

Murray would absolutely fit in Las Vegas, but there’s just no way the Pens are going to allow him to walk in an Expansion Draft without getting something in return. Vegas’ GM has to take advantage of Pittsburgh’s conundrum, otherwise, Murray will be playing somewhere else, and Las Vegas will be left with a handful of nothing.

This all of course, if Fleury must be protected. Did I clear it up? Yeah, didn’t think so, I’m still confused myself.