Who Will Blackhawks Protect in NHL Expansion Draft?

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But probably not. Mock drafts have Fleury as an obvious choice for Vegas with the veteran backstop reportedly waiving his no-movement clause by Pittsburgh's request.

There's also nothing barring Vegas from making deals to select a player and trade him to another team.

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.

Several general managers, including Arizona's John Chayka on Saturday, noted how the Golden Knights can corner the goalie market and use those assets as trade bait.

Mike Smith went from Arizona to Calgary and a couple of defensemen traded places as National Hockey League teams made last-minute moves before the Vegas expansion draft roster freeze.

First- and second-year players are exempt from the draft, meaning Ivan Barbashev, Robby Fabbri, Colton Parayko, Zach Sanford and Jordan Schmaltz are also protected from joining the Golden Knights.

The unprotected list includes players eligible to become restricted or unrestricted free agents.

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The Montreal Canadiens recouped a third-round pick from the Buffalo Sabres for 24-year-old defenseman Nathan Beaulieu, who has a connection to Vegas coach Gerard Gallant and would've been left exposed in the expansion draft.

Some players left unprotected, such as Ottawa forward Bobby Ryan, carry hefty contracts, which Vegas might shy away from so not to restrict the team's payroll structure under the salary cap.

Francis didn't say what his plans might be, saying, "We'll just see where we are and what happens" in the expansion draft.

Regarding Abdelkader, who's 30 years old and signed through 2023 with a cap hit of $4.25 million, it's likely the Wings valued his grit and leadership.

The expansion draft will take place on Wednesday at 7 p.m. CT on NBC Sports Network along with the NHL Awards Show.

After that there will be a frenzy of pre-draft trades and the usual flurry of activity just ahead of the July 1 opening of free agency, and numerous names we've heard floated over the last couple of weeks in trade rumors will likely be moved.

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