Vegas Golden Knights hold cards as NHL expansion draft nears

Petr Mrazek

A flurry of activity league wide is expected after Wednesday's expansion draft, leading up to the conclusion of the NHL draft on Saturday.

The Flames solidified their goaltending situation by getting the 35-year-old Smith from the Coyotes for a conditional pick and a prospect, taking advantage of their ability to protect a goalie that most other teams in the market didn't have the luxury of doing.

"We've had a lot of discussions with free agents, we've had a lot of agents call, healthy discussions, and at this point, I don't know what direction things will go with respect to free agents", he said.

"It's going to take us awhile to pick the team tomorrow", said McPhee.

Vegas won't take Sami Vatanen or Josh Manson from the Anaheim Ducks, they've also agreed to not take Joonas Korpisalo, Josh Anderson and Jack Johnson from the Columbus Blue Jackets and won't take Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome or Calvin DeHaan from the Islanders.

Among the other forwards available: James Neal (Nashville); Jaromir Jagr (Florida); Patrick Marleau (San Jose), Joe Thornton (San Jose); Carl Hagelin (Pittsburgh); Bryan Rust (Pittsburgh); Alexander Radulov (Montreal); Eric Staal (Minnesota); Jarome Iginla (Los Angeles); Sam Gagner (Columbus); Patrick Sharp (Dallas).

Matt Dumba (Minnesota) - The Wild had five defensemen to protect and shielded Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin, leaving veteran Marco Scandella and Dumba exposed.

There's also a wealth of proven goaltenders available given that teams were required to expose at least one. Along with Fleury, other goalies exposed are Florida's Roberto Luongo, Detroit's Petr Mrazek and Philadelphia's Michal Neuvirth.

The Golden Knights have the ability to sign unrestricted free agents and restricted free agents who are eligible for the expansion draft (which excludes the Blues' Parayko), but that transaction would count as the team's selection. He has played up and down the Penguins' lineup _ and will likely find himself in a bottom-six role next season _ but could easily be a top-six winger for an expansion team.

The Las Vegas Golden Knights, the 31st team to join the league, will select one player from each existing team in the draft.

“Weve got lots of things lined up, but until we see everything, we dont have anything, ” McPhee said.

Regarding the player that sparked some internal debate on Monday morning - the guy who could either be in the starting lineup for the Golden Knights in October or traded away for assets - McPhee said they've ultimately made a decision to select him and keep him.

There were no genuine surprises among the protected lists produced by seven Canadian-based National Hockey League teams, once the Winnipeg Jets coaxed defenceman Toby Enstrom into waiving his no-move clause, which allowed them to protect seven forwards, three defenceman and a goalie.

Some players left unprotected, such as Ottawa forward Bobby Ryan, carry hefty contracts, which Vegas might shy away from so not to restrict the teams payroll structure under the salary cap. He's got one year left on his deal with a modest $1 million USA cap hit. The Golden Knights are going to end up with a bevy of draft picks, and the Thrashers provide a rough timeline for when that might show results. And every move has its price ahead of Wednesday nights official announcement of the Vegas roster.

One interesting avenue the team has started exploring is signing a free agent during this exclusive negotiating window.

NEW YORK (AP) - The NHL salary cap has been set at $75 million for this season in a slight increase over a year ago.

Even a slight increase can help several teams that are up against the cap, like the Chicago Blackhawks and Presidents' Trophy winning Washington Capitals.

$1 million. Is just 24, can skate and has a booming, if not erratic shot.

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