The Chicago Blackhawks revealed their list of protected players on Sunday, as well as those who are exposed.
For the Blackhawks, there were no surprises regarding the protection list. Considering the fact that they only had three free protection slots due to eight no-movement clauses, there were only so many options of who to protect anyway. Chicago went with the 7-3-1 option, and protected the following players:
Forwards: Patrick Kane (NMC), Jonathan Toews (NMC), Artem Anisimov (NMC), Marian Hossa (NMC), Ryan Hartman, Tomas Jurco, Richard Panik
Defensemen: Brent Seabrook (NMC), Duncan Keith (NMC), Niklas Hjalmarsson (NMC)
Goaltender: Corey Crawford (NMC)
Lots of people wondered whether or not Dennis Rasmussen would be among the protected. It’s clear that Blackhawks’ general manager Stan Bowman is fairly high on Tomas Jurco, given the fact that he gave up a third round draft pick for him at the trade deadline.
Fans shouldn’t worry about that, since Rasmussen will be safe from being chosen in the draft. There’s been numerous rumors swirling around that Bowman has a deal in place so that the Vegas Golden Knights take Marcus Kruger’s $3.08 million cap hit off of the team’s back while losing defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk in the expansion draft. It’s no secret the Blackhawks are cap strapped, and are looking for any possible way to shed some money.
Also, many are concerned that they didn’t notice Artemi Panarin’s name on this list. There’s no need to fret. Players that have been in the league for two seasons or less are automatically exempt from the expansion draft. This means that Panarin does not have to be protected since he cannot be selected by Vegas. If you’re confused by the rules of the draft, they can be found here.
Overall, if you’re a Blackhawks fan, there’s no need to stress. Chicago won’t be losing any key players to Vegas. If they do have a trade in place that sends Kruger to Vegas, no one will know until Wednesday. Even though teams can only trade with the Golden Knights from now until the expansion draft, Vegas is going all out with a big reveal all throughout the day.
Around the League
There are definitely some surprises from many teams throughout the league. The weirdest protection list to me is from the New York Islanders. They are the only team to protect five defensemen. It doesn’t make sense unless they have a deal in place with Vegas so they don’t select a forward, such as Josh Bailey.
Another strange list is from the Minnesota Wild, who chose to protect Jonas Brodin over Matt Dumba and Marco Scandella. Like many others, general manager Chuck Fletcher might have a deal in place for Vegas to not take those defensemen. If he doesn’t, the Wild could possibly lose two very good blue-liners for nothing.
The Nashville Predators are in an interesting spot. They left some great players off their list: James Neal, Craig Smith, Colin Wilson, Colton Sissons, and Pontus Aberg. There was no way David Poile wasn’t going to protect his top four defensemen, and this is the price the Preds have to pay. They’re going to lose a significant forward in the draft, one way or another. If they can work out a deal with Vegas to not lose a player like Neal, then that would relieve some tension. However, Pierre LeBrun reported two days ago that Nashville was struggling to do so.
It will definitely be interesting to see how much teams give up so Vegas lays off certain players. For Blackhawks fan, you can sit back and enjoy the show as the league switches into chaos mode. For the rest of the teams, may the odds be ever in your favor.
The Vegas Golden Knights will select their expansion team on Wednesday, June 21st at 7 p.m. CST on NBC, during the 2017 NHL Awards.