The first step to our mock draft is to establish the list of players that will be available for the Las Vegas franchise to draft. To do this, we decided to have a blogger from each team represent their own franchise and select the players that will be protected from the Mock Expansion Draft available player pool. To see the rules which were followed to protect players, hit this link.

First up, we have the Minnesota Wild. The Wild are being represented by Derek Felska from

Protected Players

**Derek chose to save only seven forwards as opposed to the nine allowed.

Analysis from

It really pained me to have to protect a salary cap albatross player like Mikko Koivu. If I could let Koivu go early this way I would do it, becuse I think it would bring about a positive shift in the team’s culture and identity. I know the fancy stats lovers will cringe at that, but I think he limits this team in many ways. I had kind of the same reluctant feeling for Ryan Suter whose game I think has regressed.

I kept the Minnesota Wild’s youthful group intact by protecting Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle, Marco Scandella, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin and Matthew Dumba as well as Las Vegas-native Jason Zucker. Protecting Joel Eriksson Ek might seem odd, but since he’s been signed to his entry level contract this team might have the young Swedish center lined up to be in their top 6 by the time the 2017 expansion draft takes place. Devan Dubnyk stays with the Wild after signing a 6-year deal this summer that also gave him a limited no trade clause.

On the flipside I am dangling high priced winger Jason Pominville with the hope an expansion squad might be attracted to his goal scoring potential (and thus give Minnesota some much-needed cap relief) the way the Columbus Blue Jackets were with Geoff Sanderson back in the 2000 Expansion Draft. I am not protecting NHL journeyman Erik Haula, Jordan Schroeder, Justin Fontaine, Nate Prosser, and Ryan Carter. I couldn’t protect Christian Folin because I think with fellow Swede Gustav Olofsson waiting in the wings in the minors his days with the Wild are numbered anyways. I feel little regret not protecting two goaltenders in the inconsistent Darcy Kuemper and the oft-injured Niklas Backstrom.

The list should protect most, if not all, of the Wild’s most important players, but also clear out space for the team to re-shape itself. The team will also benefit from some of its better prospects being close to NHL-ready like Eriksson Ek and Alex Tuch.

The entire list of unprotected players that will be available for Team Lane and Team Pothier to select from can be found here.

To see more team explanations just like this one, check out The Sin Bin Mock Expansion Draft Landing Page.

Special thanks again to Derek Felska from Be sure to follow @StateofHckyNews on Twitter, and heck, throw us (@SinBinVegas) a follow too while you’re at it.