If you're anything like the hockey-crazy writers here at DobberProspects, you've been guessing for months who your favorite team will be protecting from the Vegas Golden Knights, and today we've finally been given the names. Sure, side deals mean that many of these players aren't ACTUALLY available, but the lists are out – the real things, not from an "insider", or someone's best guess. If you're looking for an official source, you can check them out here: https://www.nhl.com/news/protected-list-for-vegas-golden-knights-nhl-expansion-draft/c-289972722?tid=289242400
So what stands out? I'm not going to post every single list in a single Ramblings, but here are some initial thoughts…
Not for real – Players who are probably being protected via side deals:
– Sami Vatanen (ANH)
– Josh Manson (ANH)
– James Neal (NSH)
– Josh Anderson (CBJ)
– William Karlsson (CBJ)
– Joonas Korpisalo (CBJ)
– Ryan Strome (NYI)
– Brock Nelson (NYI)
Its public knowledge that Columbus and Anaheim have swung deals with Vegas, so expect Anderson, Karlsson, Korpisalo, Vatanen and Manson to be kept in-house for now. Bad news for Montour and Theodore owners waiting for bigger holes to fill in the Ducks defence, but don't worry, its still early in trade season and they will earn their time whether there's a roadblock or not.
Nashville does NOT currently have a deal in place to protect Neal, but there's no way Poile doesn't get that done…right??
Same for the Isles…I did not see reports of them swinging a deal with Vegas yet but surely they can't be comfortable losing players of this magnitude for nothing….
The Columbus protection deal is rumored to involve a prospect in the package, this could be good news if Oliver Bjorkstrand (CBJ) is the bait and ends up in a situation to play a big NHL role right away in Vegas. The kid's got talent.
Trade bait – Players who are too valuable not to be flipped to an established team:
– Jon Marchessault (FLA)
– Jason Demers (FLA)
– Peter Mrazek (DET)
– Antti Raanta (NYR)
– Philip Grubauer (WSH)
– Matt Dumba (MIN)
– Eric Staal (MIN)
– Marc Methot (OTT)
– Cody Eakin (DAL)
– Dan Hamhuis (DAL)
– Alexei Emelin (MTL)
– Reilly Sheahan (DET)
Every team in the league needs to try to get Marchessault and his amazing contract if they like doing their job right. Demers is a good dman who would fetch a decent return but not as much as a 30-goal-scorer.
Vegas doesn't need more than one starting goaltender, so wth Fleury being their man there I can't imagine they keep Mrazek around. He's only 25 someone will ante up (my guess: Buffalo or Calgary). Raanta is more appropriate for a backup or 1B situation, but will still garner attention elsewhere. Same for Grubauer. Man, Vegas could really stockpile netminders if they wanted to.
Dumba's name is one I did not expect. he's young and talented so might be worth keeping around in the desert, but A LOT of teams will be lining up to trade for a PP d-man with a bomb of a shot.
Vegas doesn't need a veteran who provides fantastic value on a contending team. Staal will be traded and bring a nice return for the new franchise if some shady other deal happens with Dumba.
This is a bad year for UFA defencemen, so veterans Methot, Hamhuis, and Emelin being potentially available is interesting. Hamhuis or Eakin will prove a valuable commodity coming out of Texas.
I could see Vegas keeping Sheahan, but I can also see them getting a boatload of offers for the big centerman.
Good news for prospects – Notable roster opportunities:
With Ryan or Methot leaving, there will be big holes to fill in the capitol. Look for youngsters like Ryan Dzingel or Nick Paul to play a bigger role next season, with new support from Colin White.
Losing Dumba or Staal will be a big deal in Minny, so they are clearly expecting big things from Joel Eriksson Ek next season up front, and perhaps finally a jump from Mike Reilly on the back end.
New York Rangers
With Raanta being the likely takeaway in the Big Apple, will they pick up a veteran backup or is this a chance for one of their many prospects like Brandon Halverson or Adam Huska? Or even Igor Shestyorkin should they lure him overseas?
New York Islanders
If there is no side deal, Strome or Nelson will open up room in the top-six for more of Matt Barzal, Josh Ho-Sang, Anthony Beauvillier, and Michael Dal Colle. A bump up the lineup for everyone.
Vegas Golden Knights
A new team with less depth than most will be a great opportunity for fringe NHLers to prove their worth. Players like Brendan Leipsic (TOR), Brendan Gaunce (VAN), Christian Djoos (WAS), Marko Dano (WPG) and many others will see their fantasy value skyrocket should they see this sudden jump up the depth chart. DO NOT SLEEP on these opportunities in your dynasty leagues, NHL shots for players like these are hard to come by.
Happy Father's Day to everyone celebrating today. In my case, my father is responsible for my love of the best game on Earth, so I'll always have somethign to be thankful for. As always, thank you for reading and best of luck in your draft preparations for next season!