National Hockey League expansion draft: Blues available and protected list

McPhee's message to teams Sunday was: "You can negotiate your way out of this if you wish".

"This has worked out very well for the Vegas Golden Knights and we expect to put a good, entertaining club on the ice", McPhee said.

Consequently, most of the mock drafts anticipating how the Golden Knights might look are inherently flawed, because they imagine a scenario in which the best available player ends up in Vegas.

The expansion draft rules made it so that Vegas would wind up with strong enough goaltending to be competitive even in its inaugural season. So, as a hypothetical, a team that might be interested in Washington's Grubauer could incentivize Vegas to select him in the expansion draft and then subsequently trade him. "Is the player under contract?" Not under contract? Does he fit the positional requirements?

Under the protocols established for this expansion draft, the first of the salary-cap era, National Hockey League Teams can not make trades with each other, only with Vegas, between now and the Golden Knights' roster reveal, which is scheduled to take place Wednesday night in conjunction with the NHL's annual awards ceremony.

And that was before McPhee learned of the high-profile group of players hell have to choose from — limited to one from each of the 30 teams — in stocking the Golden Knights roster before submitting his list on Wednesday. "I'm really interested to see how much movement that there's going to be".

That leaves at least a handful of teams with work left to do, scrambling to keep coveted players such as Marc Methot in Ottawa, the Rangers' Antti Raanta and Michael Grabner, Matt Dumba and Marco Scandella in Minnesota, James Neal in Nashville and Jonathan Marchessault in Florida from joining Vegas.

McPhee revealed on the weekend that he was willing to let teams keep players they exposed for a price (likely a bevy of prospects and/or draft picks), but told National Hockey League teams that Monday would be the last day that he would complete a trade to protect their players. The league is in a freeze until Thursday at 8 a.m., and the Golden Knights are the only trade partner for the 30 other NHL clubs during that time.

"It had all the feelings of a trade deadline, but there was conditions", Flames GM Brad Treliving said by phone.

"Vegas has indicated that they will give all 30 clubs every opportunity to keep their rosters intact if they'd like", read the press release.

That's what Arizona Coyotes GM John Chayka was thinking after trading veteran goalie Mike Smith to Calgary on Saturday.

One interesting avenue the team has started exploring is signing a free agent during this exclusive negotiating window. They protected forwards Paul Stastny, Alexander Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka and Ryan Reaves, along with defensemen Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester and Joel Edmundson plus goalie Jake Allen. They also need another right-shooting top-four defenceman. That team wouldn't be an embarrassment, but it's not going to win anything right away either.

San Jose has two notable veteran free agents in Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau. "When we call managers back we're basically saying, 'Do you want to hear what's going on with your team or are you just content to sit and we're going to do what we're going to do?' majority want to talk about it, and then we tell them exactly what's going on and, 'Is there something you want to do about it or not?'"

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