The NHL released each of their 30 teams protected and unprotected roster lists on Sunday. This is important as it now allows the Vegas Golden Knights — the league's newest NHL franchise — to deliberate and determine how they intend to build their roster from the existing clubs.
In many cases, current teams were significantly impacted by the rules and guidelines of NHL expansion. Allowed to protect the option of seven forwards, three defensemen and a goaltender, or eight skaters and a goaltender, some teams were forced to leave quality talent exposed. What comes next is a small window in which Vegas is now on the clock.
Vegas has until 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday to submit its expansion draft selections. The Golden Knights must choose 30 players, one from each team and must take a minimum of 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies from the lists of unprotected players.
There were a number of notable players left unprotected from a variety of teams. The Anaheim Ducks left Sami Vatanen and Josh Manson exposed, leading people to believe they have a pending trade in the works with the Golden Knights. The Carolina Hurricanes left three goaltenders available in Eddie Lack, Michael Leighton, and Cam Ward. And Chicago left both Marcus Kruger and Trevor van Riemsdyk exposed. Both players were rumored to be moved in the Golden Knights first-ever franchise trade that is simply going to be announced at the NHL Awards on Wednesday evening.
Teams like the Minnesota Wild, the New York Islanders and the Columbus Blue Jackets are also believed to have pending trades already worked out with Golden Knights general manager George McPhee. Like it is with the Blackhawks, any and all trades with Vegas must be announced on Wednesday and not before.
The belief is that the Golden Knights want to build a competitive roster but also stockpile as many draft picks as possible with the aim to make their team playoff competitive in the next three to four years. McPhee may elect to take more defensemen and goaltenders knowing their value on the open market. He'll then flip those players to other NHL willing to bid on acquiring them.
There is also an understanding that many NHL clubs have worked out deals with the Golden Knights to leave certain players alone. Both the Islanders and Blue Jackets are believed to have offered up first-round picks to keep those players they didn't want to lose.