On Thursday, the Tampa Bay Lightning made a deal that sent Jonathan Drouin to the Montreal Canadiens (for Mikhail Sergachev) that had the added benefit of tidying up their protected list in advance of the expansion draft. They now can protect both Vladislav Namestnikov and Alex Killorn.
According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie, the Anaheim Ducks have a trade in place with the Vegas Golden Knights to ensure they won’t lose a player in the June 21 expansion draft that they want to keep.
Protected lists must be submitted by Saturday at 5 p.m. ET, and there’s probably been several deals already made by Vegas that won’t be announced until draft day. Teams can only lose one player.
Here are intriguing players who could be available for Vegas:
Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins: He’s waiving his no-movement clause to help his long-time team and because it makes sense for him to go to a team where he can be a No. 1.
Even if Las Vegas prefers to start with younger goalies, they can draft Fleury, 32, and trade him. The Calgary Flames, Winnipeg Jets and Philadelphia Flyers would seem to be in the hunt for a proven No. 1.
It’s still possible the Penguins could move him to one of those teams before the protected lists are formalized.
Left wing James Neal, Nashville Predators: The Predators haven’t said what they are going to do, but it’s clear they have to embrace the eight-player, plus one goalie, protected format.
Otherwise, they would have to expose one of their top-four defensemen.
It seems as if their final protected list choice would come down to either Neal or 25-year-old Calle Jarnkrok. If they expose Jarnkrok, Vegas will likely take him because he is a dependable third-line center with a five-year contract paying a reasonable $2 million.
Neal has one season remaining at $5 million.
Defenseman Jonas Brodin, Minnesota Wild: It is not a given that he will be exposed, but other options such as Eric Staal, Jason Zucker and Matt Dumba are even less appealing to expose.
The Wild are a good candidate to make a deal in order to have more say in who they lose. It’s expected that the Golden Knights will own a bushel of draft picks when the dealing is done.
Goalie Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings: The Red Wings haven’t said which goalie they will protect. Howard played much sharper than Petr Mrazek in 2016-17.
But Howard, 33, is eight years older, more expensive and injury prone. He has two seasons left with a cap hit of $5.3 million
Defenseman Calvin De Haan, New York Islanders: He’s only 26, and he’s an effective 20-minute defenseman.
It’s also possible that Brock Nelson could be exposed. He’s 25 and has scored 20 or more goals in three consecutive season. The Islanders will give the Golden Knights a player who may be on the team for a while.