Florida Panthers protect defense, leave scoring open for Vegas in expansion draft

Three-time Stanley Cup champion goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, Nashville Predators forward James Neal and Anaheim Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen are among the high-profile players available for the Vegas Golden Knights to select in the National Hockey League expansion draft.Vladislav Namestnikov, Nate Schmidt, Sami Vatanen, and Jason Zucker are also included in the list of draft players that could be picked by the Vegas Golden Knights. “Every team in this league has a chance to protect their roster”.The Vegas Golden Knights will select one player from each team. The selections will be announced Wednesday during the NHL Awards Show from Las Vegas.The Winnipeg Jets solved an expansion issue even as they didn’t make a trade as Toby Enstrom agreed to waive his no-movement clause before the deadline Friday, allowing them to protect their other three top defensemen: Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers.Nashville GM David Poile said he has spoken with McPhee and that the Predators “will do the best we can to protect as many assets as we can.”.There’s also nothing barring Vegas from making deals to select a player and trade him to another team. “Then we’re going to go to that club and say: ‘We have interest in this player, there’s another club that has interest in this player”. This game McPhee is trying to play turns a promising expansion draft pick into an impressive haul that could make the team more competitive sooner.”You can negotiate your way out of this if you wish”, McPhee said his message is to other GMs.The Canes could use the 7-3-1 option, protecting forwards Staal, Jeff Skinner, Victor Rask, Elias Lindholm, Teuvo Teravainen, Brock McGinn and Phil Di Giuseppe, and defensemen Justin Faulk, Ryan Murphy and possibly Trevor Carrick.”There’s a lot of unprotected goalies out there”, Chayka said.The situation on defense was made far more clear when Gorton chose to buy out the three years remaining on veteran defenseman Dan Giradi’s contract, making the three protected defensemen Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal and Nick Holden. The general public won’t know the nature of those deals until Wednesday, so until then all players who were protected and exposed will be taken at face value. It may not matter now that they have Mikhail Sergachev who joined the organization via trade.Among players with previous connections to McPhee available are Stars center Cody Eakin, Capitals goaltender Philipp Grubauer, Avalanche goaltender Semyon Varlamov and Neuvirth, whom he drafted in Washington. He has three years and $12 million remaining on his contract, which should scare away any suitor, Vegas or otherwise. However, if Vegas is willing to place a long-term bet on Fast, they could still grab the young talented forward. Sure, he could sign a free agent July 1, or he could take advantage of this rare circumstance.When Commissioner Gary Bettman officially announced the NHL’s first expansion team since 2000 would be based in Las Vegas, Nevada nearly a year ago, the idea of hockey mixed with the glitz and glamour of the desert may have been hard to believe.