Penguins' Fleury left available for Vegas expansion draft


"It would be, 'Do we have too many players?' There are a lot of good players there". Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury stands out as the likely face of the Vegas Golden Knights franchise, as he was left unprotected by the back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions.

But Vegas general manager George McPhee has a simple solution for those teams that don't want to part with their star players. If you really want to keep a good, unprotected player, it'll cost you.

Antti Raanta, Michael Grabner, Jesper Fast and Oscar Lindberg are the top candidates available to be chosen by the expansion Golden Knights by Wednesday.

Canes general manager Ron Francis said Friday that he has had conversations with McPhee, although noting, "Probably not as much as other teams have had".

Unsigned draft picks and first- and second-year veterans were already exempt from the process, and clubs had the option to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie or eight skaters and a goalie.

Anaheim Ducks couldn't find room on their list to protect fifth year defenceman Sami Vatanen, who won't be ready for the start of next season after having surgery to fix a shoulder injury. Neal scored a total of 23 goals this season. The Minnesota Wild exposed forward Eric Staal and defensemen Marco Scandella and Matt Dumba.

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.

The Golden Knights, who begin play next season as the NHL's 31st team, will pick one player from each of the 30 teams. But it's unlikely the two would consider joining an expansion team at this point in their respective careers.

This means if the Blues have an unprotected player they would like to keep, Vegas could work out a deal for other players and/or draft picks to accommodate their wishes. Getting Mrazek would be very interesting for Vegas as they can make him a flip candidate and get futures for him.

At least 20 of the players Vegas will select must already be under contract for the 2017-18 season. The Golden Knights must take players whose average annual salaries add up to at least $43.8 million, or 60 percent of the $73 million salary cap that was in place for this season.

Teams were also eager to see the list of players available because Vegas now becomes a trade avenue for them. The annual awards ceremonies will be held in Las Vegas on Wednesday. Sure, he could sign a free agent July 1, or he could take advantage of this rare circumstance.

The league and NHL Players' Association announced the cap and the salary floor of $55.4 million in a joint statement Sunday. The teams submitted their lists to the National Hockey League this weekend and those lists were made available to the public on Sunday.