Vatanen was the odd-man out in being left unprotected from a deep and talented group of Ducks defensemen.
Vatanen, a fifth-year player, won't be ready for the start of next season after having surgery to fix a shoulder injury. Included on that list are backup goaltender Joonas Korpisalo, forward Josh Anderson and defenseman Jack Johnson. Aside from Fleury, other goalies available are Florida's Roberto Luongo, Detroit's Petr Mrazek and Philadelphia's Michal Neuvirth. The club traded popular winger Jannik Hansen knowing it would have difficulty protecting him from the Golden Knights. There's also an "expansion draft signing moratorium" for everyone except Vegas, but the trade freeze is most likely to generate some interesting moments today.
What's uncertain is how many trades the Golden Knights will reach with teams to influence which player Vegas selects or avoids in exchange for draft picks, something McPhee hopes to stockpile.
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.
National Hockey League teams had two options for putting together their protected lists for the draft: either protect a goalie and eight skaters, or a goalie, seven forwards and three defensemen. Those side deals won't be announced until Wednesday night, leaving nearly a full four days of pondering and guessing why Player A is exposed or why Player B was protected.
There's also nothing barring Vegas from having a deal in place to select a player in order to trade him to another team.
The Canes protected goalie Scott Darling, forwards Jordan Staal, Jeff Skinner, Victor Rask, Elias Lindholm, Teuvo Teravainen, Brock McGinn and Phil Di Giuseppe; and defensemen Justin Faulk, Ryan Murphy and Trevor Carrick. Carolina has about $24 million of cap space to play with and will have to add at least $6 million to get to the salary floor.
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But trades that didn't happen before the freeze stood out even more, most notably the Wild not dealing Matt Dumba, Marco Scandella or Jonas Brodin, and the Senators not moving Marc Methot or Dion Phaneuf. Goalie Jeff Glass is under contract for next season and fulfills the requirement for exposed goaltenders.
"It had all the feelings of a trade deadline, but there was conditions", Flames GM Brad Treliving said by phone.
National Hockey League plans to publicly release teams' protection lists about 10 a.m. The selections will be announced Wednesday during the NHL Awards Show from Las Vegas.
Then comes the start of free agency, which opens on July 1.
The Pen's sniper James Neal, on the other hand, is within the grasp of Vegas because the Nashville Predators has too many good defense players to keep.
Chayka was exaggerating, but only slightly. Are the Stars going to chance it and leave one of them exposed, or has general manager Jim Nill already swung a deal to give Vegas a draft pick to protect an extra player?
That doesn't mean the other GMs can't talk. "Obviously I think we feel comfortable where we're at right now, but you never know what can change in the next couple hours or a couple days here", Botterill said Thursday after the introductory press conference for new Sabres head coach Phil Housley. Nielsen is the only Red Wing in that category, and he likely would've been protected anyway.