Looming expansion draft turns up trade chatter around NHL

Wild Prepare for Entry Draft, Expansion Draft

The expansion draft process begins Saturday when teams submit their draft protection lists, with the names released to the public the following day. "We were able to acquire a player that we do not have to protect and it gives us a little more clarity there".

Vladislav Namestnikov, Nate Schmidt, Sami Vatanen, and Jason Zucker are also included in the list of draft players that could be picked by the Vegas Golden Knights.

We'll find out exactly who made side deals with Golden Knights GM George McPhee prior to next week's expansion draft.

With that in mind, which players will the Blackhawks protect, and which ones will they let go?

Although trade and waiver activity will be frozen at 3 p.m. on Saturday, the Knights will still be free to execute trades and perhaps come to agreements with rival clubs on who might be selected.

With that said, here's a self-induced Q & A as we move through the week. "We're exploring it, trying to do everything we can to make the best decision for this franchise".

This was also a no-brainer, as Crawford has a no-movement clause on his contract.

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Other notable forwards left unprotected were: Minnesota center Eric Staal, a nine-time 20-goal-scorer, Los Angeles forward Dustin Brown and Montreal's Tomas Plekanec.

In other NHL news Sunday, the league informed teams that the salary cap ceiling for the 2017-18 season will be $75 million, according to Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman. Detroit Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek and Roberto Luongo of the Florida Panthers are both available, as is Antti Raanta of the New York Rangers.

Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch reported the Columbus Blue Jackets are set to give the Golden Knights the No. 24 overall pick in the 2017 National Hockey League draft and a prospect in exchange for the expansion team only taking Matt Calvert, William Karlsson or Ryan Murray. I'm sure they'll sign a couple of free agents at some point this summer, much like they did a year ago with Stempniak and Viktor Stalberg, but I'd be stunned if it was an impact player. But it's unlikely the two would consider joining an expansion team at this point in their respective careers. The Golden Knights could look to trade some of the selected players for extra draft picks or other assets, although a player can't be returned to the team from which he was selected until January 1, 2018.

"We've got lots of things lined up, but until we see everything, we don't have anything", McPhee said. Opening of the UFA/RFA Interview Period (only applies to Players who are available for selection in the Expansion Draft) for the Expansion Club only (10 a.m. ET). They can protect seven forwards, three defencemen and one goaltender or eight skaters (forwards/defencemen) and one goaltender.

The deal may include veteran forward David Clarkson and his $5.25 million cap hit going to the Golden Knights as well.

The NHL is expected to announce Sunday at 10 a.m. what players are being protected by each team. It's also very hard for Las Vegas.

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