It could be veteran Lee Stempniak, the well-traveled forward.
The Fleury-to-Vegas speculation ignited what is sure to be a chaotic two-week period in which the expansion and entry drafts are expected to be accompanied by a flurry of trades that will, in the end, fill the roster of McPhee's squad. The annual awards ceremonies will be held in Las Vegas on Wednesday. Now, General Manager George McPhee and his staff will continue to have discussions with the other 30 National Hockey League clubs. Team owners fired the GM Dean Lombardi and head coach Darryl Sutter, and elevated Rob Blake and John Stevens to their respected positions. The groundwork is done.
When will we know the lists?
There's been debate on who to protect with the last spot, and a case could be made for Hornqvist (top PP, unique skillset) or Rust (younger, better skater) but regardless, we don't think it matter because.
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.
That benefits the Golden Knights because it maintained a deeper pool of talent available. Yet, someone's departure could leave the Blues scrambling toward free agency or trade talks to fulfill an urgent need previously exhibited by someone's departure.
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While the Blues must be prepared to lose one of their assets, it's possible that they could have some say in the proceedings, even beyond the protected list.
Among those left unprotected, and available to the Golden Knights in the draft, were goalies Cam Ward and Eddie Lack, forwards Lee Stempniak and Joakim Nordstrom, and defenseman Klas Dahlbeck.
What happens to Ward and Lack?
Fleury was left unprotected by the Pittsburgh Penguins after he agreed to waive the no-movement clause in his contract. But Lack also is due $2.75 million, so the situation is problematic. We'll find out exactly who made side deals with Golden Knights GM George McPhee prior to next week's expansion draft. Vegas must select players whose salary cap charges add up to at least $43.8 million, or 60 percent of the $73 million salary cap that was in place for the 2016-17 season.
Nick Shore, center: Possible trade bait in the days leading up to the expansion draft? The Golden Knights could look to trade some of the selected players for extra draft picks or other assets, although a player can't be returned to the team from which he was selected until January 1, 2018. The favorites to be protected are Ferland, who the Flames believe has the potential to make an impact in the lineup next season, and Lazar, a trade deadline acquisition from the Ottawa Senators that they believe can resurrect his career after playing in their system for a full season.
The NHL froze its rosters at 12 p.m. today and two hours later teams submitted their protection lists to the NHL Central Registry for review. Players with no more than two years of experience, most notably Robby Fabbri and Colton Parayko for St. Louis, are exempt from being selected in the expansion draft.