George McPhee, left, and NHL’s expansion Las Vegas franchise owner Bill Foley attend a news conference Wednesday, July 13, 2016, in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas NHL expansion team named McPhee as its first general manager. (AP Photo/John Locher)
Earlier today, 30 NHL clubs released their expansion draft protection lists to the public. The Las Vegas Golden Knights will now have until Wednesday to select one player from each of the other 30 clubs.
Even with the protection lists revealed, Las Vegas has likely worked out deals with other clubs in order for those clubs not to have certain players taken during the Expansion Draft.
With the protection lists revealed to the public, let’s dive in to some notable players that were left unprotected. Who has a good shot at landing in Las Vegas for the first ever team in franchise history?
Bobby Ryan – Ottawa Senators
Ryan has been one of the league’s prolific goal scorers over his 10-year NHL career. He has hit 30+ goals 4 times in his career, and has hit over 50+ points 6 times in his career. He did not have a great season in 2016-17, as he only put up 13 goals and 25 points. When healthy, Ryan is an effective power forward and quality goal scorer around the NHL. The 30-year old Cherry Hill, NJ native has a contract that continues through 2022 and it carries a cap hit of $7.25 million.
James Neal – Nashville Predators
Neal has been another consistent goal scorer throughout his NHL career. He has recorded 20+ goals 9 times in his NHL career. Neal, 29, has one year remaining on his current contract. He will likely command a long-term deal for his next contract.
Jonathan Marchessault – Florida Panthers
One player who quietly scored 30 goals last season was Marchessault. The 26-year old, undrafted, Quebec native has a very attractive $750k cap hit. That is a lot of goals for the money and the Golden Knights would likely get a bargain player who is still hungry to prove himself around the league.
Sami Vatanen and Josh Manson – Anaheim Ducks
26-year old Sami Vatanen has shown that he can produce points and eat minutes along the blueline. Vatanen recorded 3 goals and 24 points for the Ducks last season. Vatanen’s contract continues through 2020 and carries a cap hit of $4.875 million.
Josh Manson is another minute-munching defenseman for the Ducks. Manson, 25, is not as flashy and productive from the blueline as Vatanen is, but he is serviceable and still has plenty of upside in his game. Manson has 1 year left on his deal which carries a cap hit of $825k.
Marco Scandella and Matt Dumba – Minnesota Wild
Scandella, 27, is a valuable stay-at-home defenseman for the Minnesota Wild. He regularly gets 20-25 minutes of ice time in games. He recorded 4 goals and 13 points in 2016-17. His contract goes through 2020 and carries a cap hit of $5.187 million.
Dumba, 22, was taken 7th overall by the Wild in the 2012 NHL Draft. Dumba recorded 11 goals and 34 points in 2016-17 and has shown plenty of offensive upside. Dumba has 1 year left on his contract that carries a cap hit of $2.55 million.
Nate Schmidt – Washington Capitals
Schmidt, 25, was signed as a free agent by George McPhee when he was the General Manager of the Capitals. Schmidt has taken positive strides in his development and has shown flashes of a good offensive game. He is expected to compete for a top-4 spot on the Capitals blueline during training camp.
Marc-Andre Fleury – Pittsburgh Penguins
The 3-time Stanley Cup Champion waived his no-move clause so he could be claimed by Vegas. Fleury, 32, started the playoffs for the Penguins and performed very well during Matt Murray’s absence. He has 2 years remaining on his current deal and it carries a cap hit of $5.75 million.
Philipp Grubauer – Washington Capitals
Grubauer has been Braden Holtby’s backup the last couple of seasons and he has shown flashes of being a star goaltender in the NHL. The 25-year old Germany native played in 24 games for the Capitals in 2016-17 and he recorded 13 wins. His 2.04 goals against average, .926 save percentage, and 3 shutouts are very respectable numbers.
Petr Mrazek – Detroit Red Wings
The 25-year old Czech Republic native has experienced an up-and-down career with the Red Wings. In 2016-17, Mrazek played in 50 games, but only recorded 18 wins. In the previous season, Mrazek recorded 27 wins in 54 games. His goals against average and save percentage took a tumble in 2016-17, but he is on a friendly contract that has 1 year remaining and carries a cap hit of $4 million. Mrazek’s age and contract could be attractive to a Vegas team that is looking for young players looking to prove themselves.
By: George Foussekis