Beyond building likely the most competitive expansion team in National Hockey League history, McPhee has the golden opportunity to play some desperate teams against each other and build up a collection of draft picks and other assets. He has already declared giving the no-movement clause in his contract with the Pittsburgh Penguins, which clearly makes him up for grabs.
They protected forwards Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Patric Hornqvist, defensemen Kris Letang, Justin Schultz, Brian Dumoulin and Olli Maatta and goalie Matt Murray.
Vatanen, a fifth-year player, won't be ready for the start of next season after having surgery to fix a shoulder injury.
With this group, you have a personality to sell the game in a new market and Stanley Cup victor in Fleury as well as backups in Raanta and Mrazek who appear ready to take the next step. As for defensemen, Buffalo's Zach Bogosian and Dallas' Dan Hamhuis are available.
Those Blackhawks exposed to the expansion draft include forwards Marcus Kruger, Jordin Tootoo, defensemen Trevor van Riemsdyk and Michal Rozsival and goaltender Jeff Glass.
The league began conducting the draft Sunday.
"I'm really pleased with what's available", McPhee said. Getting Mrazek would be very interesting for Vegas as they can make him a flip candidate and get futures for him. Ryan has five years left on a seven-year $50.8 million contract and represents a $7-plus-million cap hit. As there's a number of top defensemen exposed such as Anaheim's Sami Vatanen and Ottawa's Marc Methot. The most notable players the Capitals could lose are defenseman Nate Schmidt and goaltender Philipp Grubauer.
Courtesy of the National Hockey League, the lists of protected and unprotected players from all 30 teams outside of Vegas are available.
And to add to all the excitement, the new Golden Knights roster will be revealed during the NHL Awards show in Las Vegas. Sure, he could sign a free agent July 1, or he could take advantage of this rare circumstance.
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The club could help itself further in that regard by selecting young players with untapped upside as opposed to veterans who offer immediate reliability.
"With expansion, there's a lot of unprotected goalies out there", Arizona General Manager John Chayka told reporters on Saturday.
Chayka was exaggerating, but only slightly.
In the end that's what the expansion draft is all about for Vegas.
"We have things lined up", McPhee said.
The NHL released the list of players protected from the 2017 Expansion Draft on Sunday morning.
"Everybody's going to have conversations", Brad Treliving of the Calgary Flames said. "There's lots of chatter, but there's lots of teams in the bucket of not being able to do anything without impacting what their list is". The other clubs needed time, much more time: Lightning (12 seasons), Ducks (13), Senators (14), Predators (18) and Sharks (24). But now that the lists are set, McPhee said he's more willing than ever to talk deal with his team-building counterparts. "Having the ability to have a spot to protect someone, if all the other boxes were checked, there certainly was an advantage". ". I'll look back on this someday and say, 'Those were the golden years'". How do you negotiate that delicate balance between wanting to ice a competitive team next season while also stockpiling future assets?
And finally with netminders, we were surprised that Colorado exposed Calvin Pickard, who is coming off a strong tournament for Canada at the World Championships, especially given the inconsistency and injury issues veteran Semyon Varlamov has faced in Colorado.