After a half-hour delay, the National Hockey League finally released the protected lists Sunday for the upcoming expansion draft for the Vegas Golden Knights. Are the Stars going to chance it and leave one of them exposed, or has general manager Jim Nill already swung a deal to give Vegas a draft pick to protect an extra player?
Riley Nash: Maybe not the name you expected to see this time past year, but Nash is an incredibly affordable bottom-six piece and with the ability to play both center and the wing, there's no sense in the Bruins leaving him exposed for the Golden Knights.
Not knowing who Vegas GM George McPhee is going to take has everyone on edge. Simply put, that's the smartest strategy for Pittsburgh to take due to not having much defensive depth in the organization, and a bevy of veteran free agents (Trevor Daley, Ron Hainsey, Mark Streit) that are not expected to return to the team next season. It's expected that the Golden Knights will select some players in the expansion draft with the express objective of trading them to another team to build up their stock of draft picks and young prospects.
Wilson left the option of a deal with Vegas on the table, while indicating there could be moves made with other teams, too. After 22-goal scorer Panik re-signed with the team on a two-year deal, a source told the Tribune the team was likely to protect him in the expansion draft. They already own the sixth overall pick, but TSN's Pierre LeBrun spoke to an National Hockey League general manager, who believes there's a chance the Golden Knights have already made side deals to acquire more draft picks. The Bruins have to protect either eight skaters and a goalie or seven forwards, three defenders, and a goalie.
Another example is the New York Islanders, who went with the unique decision of protecting five defensemen, leaving forwards like Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey available.
Some players left unprotected, such as Ottawa forward Bobby Ryan, carry hefty contracts, which Vegas might shy away from so not to restrict the team's payroll structure under the salary cap.
A very brief recap: The NHL Entry Draft is held for players between 18-20 (18-21 for European players) and doesn't end a players' NCAA eligibility.
But trades that didn't happen before the freeze stood out even more, most notably the Wild not dealing Matt Dumba, Marco Scandella or Jonas Brodin, and the Senators not moving Marc Methot or Dion Phaneuf.
The former Capitals GM also previously signed Washington defenseman Nate Schmidt out of college and Sharks right winger Joel Ward in free agency and traded for Flames right winger Troy Brouwer. It's also very hard for Las Vegas.
Stu's take: The biggest question mark is Alexander Radulov, who can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.
That doesn't mean the other GMs can't talk. Some lists were pretty obvious, while others have us wondering just what some general managers were thinking.
This story has been corrected by removing Red Wings defenseman Mike Green from list of unprotected players.