The NHL on Sunday morning released which players each of the 30 NHL teams are protecting and which they are making available to the expansion Vegas Golden Knights. The selections will be announced Wednesday during the annual NHL Awards Show - in Las Vegas, no less. Among the juicier ones: The Tennessean's Adam Vignan reports that the Nashville Predators might protect Calle Jarnkrok, potentially exposing James Neal. Now, General Manager George McPhee and his staff will continue to have discussions with the other 30 National Hockey League clubs.
Sunday, June 18 Deadline for Central Registry to approve and simultaneously distribute the Protection Lists to all NHL Clubs (including the Expansion Club) and the NHLPA (10 a.m. ET).
The Golden Knights said Saturday night they were very pleased with the expansion draft process so far and have "indicated that they will give all 30 clubs every opportunity to keep their rosters intact if they'd like".
Regardless of his still-impressive talent, the real question with Thornton is whether a team looking to build long-term will want someone in the final stage of his career.
Players with two years or less of professional experience are automatically exempt from the draft, meaning that the Blues did not have to protect forwards Ivan Barbashev, Robby Fabbri and Zach Sanford and defensemen Colton Parayko and Jordan Schmaltz.
The other big thing is that the Vegas Golden Knights can begin negotiating with UFAs and RFAs.
The Islanders were the only team that protected five defensemen: Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Travis Hamonic Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech, leaving forwards Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome and defensemen Calvin de Haan and Thomas Hickey available.
There's also a wealth of proven goaltenders available given that teams were required to expose at least one.
It seems the mania that was anticipated in the lead-up to the National Hockey League expansion draft is not exactly affecting the Rangers. Florida and Vegas can discuss arrangements in the meantime, in terms of selecting certain players. But we're going to lose a good player, make no mistake.
At forward, the Sharks protected Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, Tomas Hertl, Chris Tierney, Melker Karlsson, Jannik Hansen and Ryan Carpenter, who re-signed with the team Saturday for two years. The objective behind this is to allow the Golden Knights to get a sense of whether or not they will be able to sign a free agent before going ahead and using a pick on them in the Expansion Draft.
That's a bit further down the line and it remains to be seen how it will play out, but for expansion purposes Fleury pretty much took out all the drama or unknown, when he nearly literally "took one for the team" to open himself up for the expansion draft. So too, many believe that Manson is an absolute keeper for the Ducks and that offering a trade option to the Golden Knights will allow the Ducks to keep both players.
Then comes the start of free agency, which opens on July 1.
The NHL is now under a trade freeze that lasts until Thursday at 8 a.m., with teams only allowed to make trades with the Golden Knights.