OFFICIAL PROTECTION LISTS - PASSING COMMENTS
Now that all 30 teams have officially submitted their protection lists, the pressure is on George McPhee and his staff in Vegas to select the best team possible. In the meantime the hockey world will undoubtedly be busy playing fantasy GM for the Golden Knights until the roster is announced. While the league awaits one General Managers selections, we thought we'd take a look at a few of the protection list decisions made by the leagues other 30 GM's.
The Coyotes took advantage of the expansion landscape in front of them. Not only did they steal Nick Cousins from the Flyers, they unloaded goaltender Mike Smith and his team high salary (well most of it) to the Flames for what will likely be a 2nd round draft pick. As a team looking to build for the future, a 35 year-old tender is expendable. Replacement likely on the way in coming weeks via trade or free agency.
It's interesting to see the Avalanche go the buy-out route with Francois Beauchemin without simply asking him to remove his NMC. Although we understand the importance of quality veteran checkers like Blake Comeau, and the surprising post trade offensive success of Sven Andrighetto (as acknowledged in our Avalanche preview), we don't understand the rationale in protecting Matt Nieto over Mikhail Grigorenko. Leaving the Russian unprotected all but takes a Carl Soderberg Vegas selection off the table, something that actually stood a chance of happening with Nieto left off the list instead. Enjoy that $4.750M Soderberg cap hit Colorado.
Stars management made the decision to keep our projected Vegas selection Stephen Johns, over that of Jamie Oleksiak. Surprising? kind of, but not a ridiculous decision. Oleksiak has been an up and down defender thus far, so he was by no means a lock for this list. Also, interesting to note the Valeri Nichushkin's inclusion on their protection list. We acknowledged a sneaky Russian selection by George McPhee after his success developing KHL skaters, but Dallas wisely took that option off the table, even it does mean waiting another year for his North American return.
Detroit Red Wings
The decision to protect 33 year old Jimmy Howard and his $5.291M salary over that of the 25 year old Petr Mrazek is a confusing one. By no means is Howard a bad tender, but his age and cap hit are enough of a deterrent to protect his selection and find a trade partner elsewhere after the draft. Mrazek will now be thrust into the expansion spotlight. Toss in the Nick Jensen list nomination over the likes of Xavier Oullett and the aging, but still valuable Niklas Kronwall (who could easily be picked and flipped for a 2nd round draft pick minimum), and our management strategy runs counter to that of Detroit's. Unloading salary should be the number one priority.
The Oilers surprised no one with their protection list. But Jujhar Khaira's contract extension a few days before the draft may have just guaranteed his expansion selection. On a team with few options, taking a contracted player over an RFA like Reinhart, makes the most sense. Khaira now fits that bill.
Panthers management surprisingly choose the 8-1 structure without protecting the likes of Jason Demers or Reilly Smith. This team clearly believes in the ability of Alex Petrovic and Mark Pysyk enough to discard a consistent NHL defender like Demers. Buyers remorse? Maybe. But with Smith also up for grabs, this team took the opportunity to potentially dump salary this summer. Did we mention 30-goal man Johnathan Marchessault is also available? Thankfully the Panthers can only lose one player.
After the season had by both Brodin and Dumba, it's a bit of a shock to see the Swede on the protection list over the more dynamic player in Dumba. The obsession with Jason Zucker also continues for the Wild. He obviously shows promise, but is he a lock to play in the top-six for this team? Probably not. Dangling him out there as Vegas native, could've saved this team from losing a D-man. Instead Matt Dumba is as good as gone.
Marc Bergevin is clearly a fan of the blockbuster deal. We'll leave the Drouin for Sergachev deal, in isolation, out of our analysis for now, but instead address a general lack of asset retention in Montreal. Trading Nathan Beaulieu before the list deadline when the market is all but frozen, in order to protect a 29 year old bottom pair defender with little risk of selection, was misguided. Waiting just one week would've bumped up the value received in return for the defender. The Canadiens will now face the predictable loss of young prospect Charles Hudon. Questionable asset management by the former NHLer turned GM.
The Preds were bound to lose a quality forward, it was just a matter of seeing their list to determine which one that was going to be. David Poile ended up choosing the long-term value of Calle Jarnkrok over the NHL experience of James Neal. Nashville is hoping the 2018 UFA status of Neal will deter his selection and steer the Golden Knights back to the more predictable options of Craig Smith and Colin Wilson.
New York Islanders
Garth Snow was at it again as the wild-card GM. As we mentioned in our Islanders expansion preview, the 3-5-1 structure deserved serious consideration for a team with such defensive depth. He indeed pulled the trigger on this list structure, but Pelech over De Haan as the 5th defencemen was a bit of a shocker. However, reports indicate both will be protected in exchange for the Islanders first round pick. As one of the rosters most vulnerable to expansion, Garth Snow appears to have paid the quite affordable ransom to keep his team intact AND potentially dump salary in the process (in the form of Kulemin and/or Grabovski). For Vegas' sake let's hope this rumour isn't true.
Marc Method is assuredly gone. Curious to see who fills the void he leaves.
St. Louis Blues
The Blues wasted a forward list nomination on Ryan Reaves - a player that would undoubtedly be passed over by the Golden Knights - instead of protecting offensive contributor David Perron. Salary is quite obviously a concern for this team, but one of these players carries market value and the other does not. Perron at minimum could've been swapped for a draft pick post-expansion draft. Instead they'll either receive nothing in return for him or lose Dmitrij Jaskin - a more valuable checker than Reaves.
Tampa Bay Lightning
Kudos to Stevie Y for getting such a dynamic defensive prospect in return for Drouin, instead of lose a player like Killorn or Namestnikov for nothing via expansion. This team made the necessary pre-draft decision, others were afraid to make.
Does Toby Enstrom want out of Winnipeg? Because Marko Dano might not be enough to convince the Golden Knights otherwise.