The 30 NHL betting teams that make the National Hockey League revealed their lists of protected players on Sunday, ahead of the expansion draft. The Vegas Golden Knights have until 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday to submit their expansion draft picks. The new team must choose 30 players – one from each team – and must include at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalkeepers.
Conversely, each team can protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters and one goaltender. All players with continuing and effective no-movement clauses are automatically protected, while all first- and second-year players and unsigned draft choices are exempt from selection.
As expected by people who bet on hockey, current NHL champions the Pittsburgh Penguins Sophie’s Choiced Matt Murray over Marc-Andre Fleury, which means that the latter is most certainly Vegas bound – barring any unforeseen event. Fleury agreed to waive the no-movement clause in his contract and will likely become the Knights’ starting goalie, while Roberto Luongo, Petr Mrazek, or Michal Neuvirth – whom Golden Knights general manager George McPhee drafted during his stint as Capitals GM – could become his backups. Fleury bid a teary goodbye on Thursday, with Wind In His Hair presumably shouting in the background.
The New York Islanders were the only team that protected five defensemen, which left forwards Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome out in the open. The Anaheim Ducks, on the other hand, protected three defensemen, thus leaving Sami Vatanen up for grabs. The only thing that could possibly keep the Knights – who have the longest NHL betting odds of winning the Stanley Cup next year – from selecting Vatanen is the fact that he won’t be ready for the start of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery. Also, the Predators protected four defensemen, leaving James Neal wide open.
Neal has scored at least 20 goals per season in the last six years straight, including 40 in 2011-12 and 31 in 2015-16. Also in the forwards department, the Wild exposed Eric Staal, who scored 28 goals last season, while the Panthers left Jonathan Marchessault – who recorded 30 goals last season – available. Other options include Dustin Brown, Tomas Plekanec, and Chris Kunitz. The Senators left forward Bobby Ryan unprotected but the Knights are not likely to pick up his $50.8 million contract, of which he has two years left. Speaking of the Sens, they were forced to expose Marc Methot due to defenseman Dion Phaneuf refusing to waive his no-movement clause.
“We are now going through the process of trying to put the team together, we are still talking to clubs and we are hoping to do deals with clubs if they want to protect their rosters,” McPhee told the press. “We can put a good team on the ice, and accumulate draft picks and be in a surplus situation in the next couple of years.” the Knights can select a player and trade him to another team. Any trades would also be announced until Wednesday, when people who bet on hockey will find out whether Vegas’ selections improve its NHL betting odds.