Tom Kuhnhackl

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Spark Penguins need might already be in organization

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The Pittsburgh Penguins are in need of a spark, and general manager Jim Rutherford seems to know it.

On Wednesday he told Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that he is close to considering a “major” trade to potentially shake things up if things do not start to turn around on their upcoming three-game road trip. It is a bold statement from the general manager of a team that has won the past two Stanley Cups, but nearly halfway through the season it is becoming increasingly clear that this team is lacking … something.

That something could be any number of things.

Defensively they have not been great. They have been plagued by dreadfully slow starts in recent games. They lost a ton of depth over the summer with the free agency departures of Nick Bonino, Matt Cullen, Chris Kunitz, Trevor Daley, and Ron Hainsey (as well as the expansion draft departure of Marc-Andre Fleury), and while their power play is as dangerous as any team in the league, they have been one of the absolute worst teams in the league when it comes to scoring during 5-on-5 play.

Put all of that together and you have a team that enters play on Thursday sitting on the playoff bubble in a highly competitive Metropolitan Division.

I have already written about the Penguins’ depth issues this season, and in the weeks since then the gap between their top-six production and their bottom-six production has only widened. That is a big problem.

The greatest strength the Penguins had the past two years on their Stanley Cup runs was their forward depth and every line’s ability to contribute to the offense. As great as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Phil Kessel are they are not going to score every single night. There has to be some offense coming from the other two lines, and this season the Penguins are not getting that. Even with the concerns on the blue line (made worse now by the injury to Justin Schultz) this seems like the biggest area to address.

It might also be the easiest because the solutions might already be knocking on the door.

In each of the past two seasons the Penguins have received huge contributions from call-ups from their Wilkes-Barre/Scranton farm team. In 2015-16 it was Matt Murray, Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust and even Tom Kuhnhackl helping to bring a spark to the team.

Last season it was Jake Guentzel, joining the team around this time of year and the scoring 29 goals over 65 games, including a league-leading 13 in 25 playoff games. Finding that sort of cheap production from young talent is essential for teams like the Penguins given their salary cap situation. They do not always have the flexibility under the cap to swing a major trade without giving up a major piece in return.

They might have a couple of options that could provide similar value and a similar spark this season in Dominik Simon and Daniel Sprong, both selected in the 2015 draft.

Simon, who had 16 points in 20 games in the AHL before his recent recall, has been a bright spot in his first two games with the team. He recorded a pair of assists in his season debut against the Toronto Maple Leafs and eventually found himself skating on a line with Crosby. He was one of the few players that seemed to be a real threat to score in their 2-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche earlier in the week and demonstrated some real skill as a playmaker.

Take, for example, this play where he set up Crosby for a one-timer opportunity in the third period.

A little better shot placement, or a goalie that wasn’t as locked in as Jonathan Bernier was that night, and we’re talking about a highlight reel goal right now.

During Wednesday’s practice Simon was skating on a line with Crosby and Guentzel and seems poised to play there on Thursday night when they take on the Vegas Golden Knights.

Following Saturday’s loss against Toronto Simon spoke about playing alongside Crosby and called it, “unbelievable,” adding that “he makes the game so much easier for you. If you lose the puck, he’s there to support you. It felt great.”

It seems, at least in the short-term, he is going to get an opportunity to keep playing on that line. It would be the third time in as many years a call-up gets that chance alongside Crosby as Simon tries to follow in the footsteps of Sheary and Guentzel.

That brings us to Sprong, the team’s second-round pick in 2015 and currently its top prospect.

After ripping apart the QMJHL the past three years (and getting a brief cup of coffee with the Penguins to start the 2015-16 season) Sprong is currently into his first full year of pro hockey. It has been a mixed bag of results at times. He has been streaky at times and he was a healthy scratch a couple of weeks ago, but he is only 20 years old, already has 14 goals in 23 games and is leading the team in both goals and total points by a pretty significant margin.

A couple of weeks ago Rutherford commented on Sprong’s development and said he had received no indication from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton coaching staff that he was ready for a promotion to the NHL.

Given the aforementioned healthy scratch it is clear that his game is not perfect at this point.

Even with that being said he can still do something — or at least has the potential to do something — a lot of current players on the Penguins roster right now can not do. That, of course, is having the ability to put the puck in the net.

No matter how much the Penguins try to make him one, Sprong may not ever be a great defensive player. But you still need to score goals, and right now the Penguins have a lot of forwards in their lineup that can play a safe, responsible, defensively sound game but are providing them with absolutely zero offense.

They have Ryan Reaves playing five minutes a night providing … well … whatever it is he provides. For whatever reason, NHL teams seem to prefer that sort of one dimensional play (whether it be the dimension Reaves provides, or the play-it-safe, all defense, no offense dimension) over the one dimensional play that can change a game with a quick goal.

It would not hurt the Penguins at all to remove a Reaves or even a Carl Hagelin to insert somebody that can potentially inject some offense into the lineup. At the moment a team that has two top-lines and two fourth-lines. That is not the type of balance they need to compete for another Stanley Cup, let alone win one.

At some point before the trade deadline they are are probably going to have to address the third-line center spot from outside the organization. Even with a couple of goals in his past few games Riley Sheahan is probably not the answer there (though, he might be a decent fourth-line option).

But they can still make some in-house changes on the wings to potentially spark the offense without having to swing a major trade, something that at this point is probably easier said than done. A real look for Simon and perhaps Sprong at some point could potentially balance out the lineup a lot more than it currently is, whether it be with one of the younger players getting a look at the bottom of the lineup, or somebody else getting bumped down a spot while the youngsters get a look up top. Keep in mind the fourth line in their Stanley Cup clinching game this past spring had Matt Cullen (13 goals in 72 games), Bryan Rust (15 goals in 57 games) and Chris Kunitz (nine goals in 71 games, and more than 250 career goals) skating on it.

They need to find that sort of balance again. Before they turn to a trade, it might be wise to see if their own in-house prospects can help deliver it.

It has worked for them before.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

The Penguins have some major depth issues that need to be addressed

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Nearly one quarter of the way through the 2017-18 season and the Pittsburgh Penguins are probably not exactly where they want to be at this point.

Entering play on Tuesday, when they will host the Buffalo Sabres, they are 17th in the NHL in points percentage, they have the third-worst goal differential (minus-18, ahead of only the Buffalo Sabres and Arizona Coyotes) after losing games by margins of 10-7, 7-1 and 7-1, and are only a middle of the pack team in terms of their shot attempt and possession numbers. Their goals against numbers overall are ugly (largely due to the three blowout losses), but they are also only 25th in the league in goals per game.

None of that is great.

There are a lot of factors here.

The early season schedule to this point has been brutal, having already played six sets of back-to-back games (often against rested teams — including some of the best teams in the league). For a team that has played 214 games the past two seasons that is a tough way to open the season. Their backup goaltending situation early in the season was a disaster with Antti Niemi giving up goals in bunches.

It is not wrong to think that a better backup goaltending situation to start the year could have maybe produced an extra win, or that once the schedule calms down a little they will start to get back on track a little.

There is another issue at work here too that is going to need to be addressed in a meaningful way: The bottom of the roster, which was decimated by free agency and the salary cap over the summer, is giving them almost no offense to speak of. Or anything, really.

This brings back a problem that plagued the Penguins between the 2010 and 2015 seasons when they were getting bounced early in the playoffs despite having a group of All-Stars at the top of the roster.

Over the past two years general manager Jim Rutherford did a ton of work to build that depth back up and it resulted in back-to-back Stanley Cups.

This past summer a lot of that depth walked out the door in free agency with Nick Bonino (Nashville Predators), Matt Cullen (Minnesota Wild), Chris Kunitz (Tampa Bay Lightning), and Trevor Daley (Detroit Red Wings) all moving on. That also does not include the exit of Marc-Andre Fleury to the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft, a pretty significant departure given how bad Niemi turned out to be.

That is a lot of depth to replace in one offseason, and to this point the Penguins have struggled to do it.

Instead of Bonino and Cullen at the third and fourth center spots they opened the season with Greg McKegg and Carter Rowney (currently injured), then traded for Riley Sheahan, a player that has not scored a goal in 97 of his past 98 games.

Ryan Reaves, brought in to add toughness, is playing just seven minutes per night and has replaced Kunitz.

Looking at it from a numbers perspective it is not hard to see how much of a drop this is has been for the offense.

Let’s break their forwards and their production down into two groups of six: The top-six in terms of ice-time and the bottom-six in terms of ice-time.

During the 2016-17 season the Penguins forwards that were 7-12 in ice-time averaged .445 points per game as a group.

So far this year? The 7-12 group is at just .201. A player that averages .201 points per game over 82 games scores just 16 points in a season. A .445 player scores 36.

That is a pretty substantial drop. To be fair we are also comparing a 19-game sampling with a full season. A lot can happen over the next few months. The table below breaks down the past two full seasons, as well as this one, to show where the Penguins were after 19 games and where they ended up.

In each of the past two seasons both groups were slow starters relative to where they ended up at the end of the season. But it wasn’t just a matter of players getting better or seeing their production in crease. In both instances there were pretty significant changes made to the roster.

In 2015-16 pretty much everything about the team changed after the first quarter of the season, from the head coach (Mike Johnston to Mike Sullivan) to almost half of the roster (Carl Hagelin, Trevor Daley, Conor Sheary, Bryan Rust, Tom Kuhnhackl, Justin Schultz all being called up or added to the roster during the season).

In 2016-17 it was the call-up of Jake Guentzel that ended up making a huge difference (as well as the return of a lot of injured player).

The point here is if the Penguins are going to have any chance of another repeat run they are going to need to make similar changes at some point before the trade deadline.

In their two years as the Penguins’ third-and fourth-line centers Bonino and Cullen each averaged 15 goals and between 30-40 points.

Right now McKegg and Sheahan are on a four-goal and 11-point pace … combined.

The Penguins didn’t go from postseason disappointments to Stanley Cup champions the past two years because players like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin got better or became better leaders or became more clutch. They were the same as they have always been (great). They became Stanley Cup champions again because players like Crosby and Malkin were still great, and they had a great supporting cast of players around them.

This is not to suggest the Penguins would necessarily be in a better situation with Bonino and Cullen and Kunitz at this point. Cullen is 41 years old and has one goal so far in Minnesota. At some point he will slow down. Bonino has played in just five games for the Predators due to injury and the Penguins never could have matched that contract offer under the salary cap. (Keeping Kunitz instead of adding Reaves probably would have been smart).

Their production from the past two seasons still existed and was a big part of the Penguins success. That is production they are not getting and are unlikely to get from the current cast of players in those roles as replacements.

There are some areas where improvement can come from. Sidney Crosby is going to play better. Kris Letang can (and probably will) play better. Prospect Daniel Sprong is off to a great start in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and could be on the Guentzel path to the NHL at some point later in the season.

The third-and fourth-line center spots, however, have become offensive black holes and with Reaves only playing seven minutes a night (sometimes significantly less) they are pretty much playing with an 11-man forward group.

All of those areas need to be addressed if another postseason run is going to happen this season.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

NHL reveals all 30 teams’ available, protected players for expansion draft

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That moment is finally upon us: the NHL released protected and available players lists for all 30 teams regarding the Vegas Golden Knights’ expansion draft on Sunday.

As you’ll see, teams generally chose two alignments:

1. Protecting four forwards, four defensemen, and one goalie.

– 0r –

2. Protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie.

The New York Islanders interestingly bucked the trend, protecting five defensemen.

While you dream up armchair GM (or armchair GM GM, in the case of George McPhee) scenarios, do note that the Golden Knights must meet these requirements as they select 30 players overall:

Also remember that McPhee can strike deals with teams to not pick certain exposed players, though such arrangement will come at a price. In addition to that note, it’s crucial to remember that younger players might not be exposed just because they weren’t protected, as some are exempt.

Got the basics? Good. The league lists the expansion draft rules here if you want to dive into the full details.

Excuse the big list, but here are all the players who are available and protected for each team.

ANAHEIM DUCKS

Available
Spencer Abbott (F)
Jared Boll (F)
Sam Carrick (F)
Patrick Eaves (F)
Emerson Etem (F)
Ryan Garbutt (F)
Max Gortz (F)
Nicolas Kerdiles (F)
Andre Petersson (F)
Logan Shaw (F)
Nick Sorensen (F)
Nate Thompson (F)
Corey Tropp (F)
Chris Wagner (F)
Nate Guenin (D)
Korbinian Holzer (D)
Josh Manson (D)
Jaycob Megna (D)
Jeff Schultz (D)
Clayton Stoner (D)
Sami Vatanen (D)
Jonathan Bernier (G)
Jhonas Enroth (G)
Ryan Faragher (G)
Matt Hackett (G)
Dustin Tokarski (G)

Protected
Andrew Cogliano (F)
Ryan Getzlaf (F)
Ryan Kesler (F)
Corey Perry (F)
Rickard Rakell (F)
Jakob Silfverberg (F)
Antoine Vermette (F)
Kevin Bieksa (D)
Cam Fowler (D)
Hampus Lindholm (D)
John Gibson (G)

ARIZONA COYOTES

Available
Alexander Burmistrov (F)
Shane Doan (F)
Tyler Gaudet (F)
Peter Holland (F)
Josh Jooris (F)
Jamie McGinn (F)
Jeremy Morin (F)
Mitchell Moroz (F)
Chris Mueller (F)
Teemu Pulkkinen (F)
Brad Richardson (F)
Garret Ross (F)
Branden Troock (F)
Radim Vrbata (F)
Joe Whitney (F)
Kevin Connauton (D)
Jamie McBain (D)
Zbynek Michalek (D)
Jarred Tinordi (D)
Louis Domingue (G)

Protected
Nick Cousins (F)
Anthony Duclair (F)
Jordan Martinook (F)
Tobias Rieder (F)
Oliver Ekman-Larsson (D)
Alex Goligoski (D)
Connor Murphy (D)
Luke Schenn (D)
Chad Johnson (G)

BOSTON BRUINS

Available
Matt Beleskey (F)
Brian Ferlin (F)
Jimmy Hayes (F)
Alex Khokhlachev (F)
Dominic Moore (F)
Tyler Randell (F)
Zac Rinaldo (F)
Tim Schaller (F)
Drew Stafford (F)
Linus Arnesson (D)
Chris Casto (D)
Tommy Cross (D)
Alex Grant (D)
John-Michael Liles (D)
Adam McQuaid (D)
Colin Miller (D)
Joe Morrow (D)
Anton Khudobin (G)
Malcolm Subban (G)

Protected
David Backes (F)
Patrice Bergeron (F)
David Krejci (F)
Brad Marchand (F)
Riley Nash (F)
David Pastrnak (F)
Ryan Spooner (F)
Zdeno Chara (D)
Torey Krug (D)
Kevan Miller (D)
Tuukka Rask (G)

BUFFALO SABRES

Available
William Carrier (F)
Nicolas Deslauriers (F)
Brian Gionta (F)
Derek Grant (F)
Justin Kea (F)
Matt Moulson (F)
Cal O’Reilly (F)
Cole Schneider (F)
Brady Austin (D)
Mathew Bodie (D)
Zach Bogosian (D)
Justin Falk (D)
Taylor Fedun (D)
Cody Franson (D)
Josh Gorges (D)
Dmitry Kulikov (D)
Anders Nilsson (G)
Linus Ullmark (G)

Protected
Tyler Ennis (F)
Marcus Foligno (F)
Zemgus Girgensons (F)
Evander Kane (F)
Johan Larsson (F)
Ryan O'Reilly (F)
Kyle Okposo (F)
Nathan Beaulieu (D)
Jake McCabe (D)
Rasmus Ristolainen (D)
Robin Lehner (G)

CALGARY FLAMES

Available
Brandon Bollig (F)
Lance Bouma (F)
Troy Brouwer (F)
Alex Chiasson (F)
Freddie Hamilton (F)
Emile Poirier (F)
Hunter Shinkaruk (F)
Matt Stajan (F)
Kris Versteeg (F)
Linden Vey (F)
Matt Bartkowski (D)
Ryan Culkin (D)
Deryk Engelland (D)
Michael Kostka (D)
Brett Kulak (D)
Ladislav Smid (D)
Michael Stone (D)
Dennis Wideman (D)
Tyler Wotherspoon (D)
Brian Elliott (G)
Tom McCollum (G)

Protected
Mikael Backlund (F)
Sam Bennett (F)
Micheal Ferland (F)
Michael Frolik (F)
Johnny Gaudreau (F)
Curtis Lazar (F)
Sean Monahan (F)
T.J. Brodie (D)
Mark Giordano (D)
Dougie Hamilton (D)
Mike Smith (G)

CAROLINA HURRICANES

Available
Bryan Bickell (F)
Connor Brickley (F)
Patrick Brown (F)
Erik Karlsson (F)
Danny Kristo (F)
Jay McClement (F)
Andrew Miller (F)
Andrej Nestrasil (F)
Joakim Nordstrom (F)
Lee Stempniak (F)
Brendan Woods (F)
Klas Dahlbeck (D)
Dennis Robertson (D)
Philip Samuelsson (D)
Matt Tennyson (D)
Daniel Altshuller (G)
Eddie Lack (G)
Michael Leighton (G)
Cam Ward (G)

Protected
Phillip Di Giuseppe (F)
Elias Lindholm (F)
Brock McGinn (F)
Victor Rask (F)
Jeff Skinner (F)
Jordan Staal (F)
Teuvo Teravainen (F)
Trevor Carrick (D)
Justin Faulk (D)
Ryan Murphy (D)
Scott Darling (G)

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS

Available
Kyle Baun (F)
Andrew Desjardins (F)
Marcus Kruger (F)
Pierre-Cedric Labrie (F)
Michael Latta (F)
Brandon Mashinter (F)
Dennis Rasmussen (F)
Jordin Tootoo (F)
Brian Campbell (D)
Dillon Fournier (D)
Shawn Lalonde (D)
Johnny Oduya (D)
Ville Pokka (D)
Michal Rozsival (D)
Viktor Svedberg (D)
Trevor van Riemsdyk (D)
Mac Carruth (G)
Jeff Glass (G)

Protected
Artem Anisimov (F)
Ryan Hartman (F)
Marian Hossa (F)
Tomas Jurco (F)
Patrick Kane (F)
Richard Panik (F)
Jonathan Toews (F)
Niklas Hjalmarsson (D)
Duncan Keith (D)
Brent Seabrook (D)
Corey Crawford (G)

COLORADO AVALANCHE

Available
Troy Bourke (F)
Gabriel Bourque (F)
Rene Bourque (F)
Joe Colborne (F)
Turner Elson (F)
Felix Girard (F)
Mikhail Grigorenko (F)
Samuel Henley (F)
John Mitchell (F)
Jim O’Brien (F)
Brendan Ranford (F)
Mike Sislo (F)
Carl Soderberg (F)
Mark Barberio (D)
Mat Clark (D)
Eric Gelinas (D)
Cody Goloubef (D)
Duncan Siemens (D)
Fedor Tyutin (D)
Patrick Wiercioch (D)
Joe Cannata (G)
Calvin Pickard (G)
Jeremy Smith (G)

Protected
Sven Andrighetto (F)
Blake Comeau (F)
Matt Duchene (F)
Rocco Grimaldi (F)
Gabriel Landeskog (F)
Nathan MacKinnon (F)
Matt Nieto (F)
Tyson Barrie (D)
Erik Johnson (D)
Nikita Zadorov (D)
Semyon Varlamov (G)

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS

Available
Josh Anderson (F)
Alex Broadhurst (F)
Matt Calvert (F)
Zac Dalpe (F)
Sam Gagner (F)
Brett Gallant (F)
William Karlsson (F)
Lauri Korpikoski (F)
Lukas Sedlak (F)
T.J. Tynan (F)
Daniel Zaar (F)
Marc-Andre Bergeron (D)
Scott Harrington (D)
Jack Johnson (D)
Kyle Quincey (D)
John Ramage (D)
Jaime Sifers (D)
Ryan Stanton (D)
Oscar Dansk (G)
Anton Forsberg (G)
Joonas Korpisalo (G)

Protected
Cam Atkinson (F)
Brandon Dubinsky (F)
Nick Foligno (F)
Scott Hartnell (F)
Boone Jenner (F)
Brandon Saad (F)
Alexander Wennberg (F)
Seth Jones (D)
Ryan Murray (D)
David Savard (D)
Sergei Bobrovsky (G)

DALLAS STARS

Available
Adam Cracknell (F)
Justin Dowling (F)
Cody Eakin (F)
Ales Hemsky (F)
Jiri Hudler (F)
Curtis McKenzie (F)
Mark McNeill (F)
Travis Morin (F)
Patrick Sharp (F)
Gemel Smith (F)
Matej Stransky (F)
Mattias Backman (D)
Andrew Bodnarchuk (D)
Ludwig Bystrom (D)
Nick Ebert (D)
Justin Hache (D)
Dan Hamhuis (D)
Patrik Nemeth (D)
Jamie Oleksiak (D)
Greg Pateryn (D)
Dustin Stevenson (D)
Henri Kiviaho (G)
Maxime Lagace (G)
Kari Lehtonen (G)
Antti Niemi (G)
Justin Peters (G)

Protected
Jamie Benn (F)
Radek Faksa (F)
Valeri Nichushkin (F)
Brett Ritchie (F)
Antoine Roussel (F)
Tyler Seguin (F)
Jason Spezza (F)
Stephen Johns (D)
John Klingberg (D)
Esa Lindell (D)
Ben Bishop (G)

DETROIT RED WINGS

Available
Louis-Marc Aubry (F)
Mitch Callahan (F)
Colin Campbell (F)
Martin Frk (F)
Luke Glendening (F)
Darren Helm (F)
Drew Miller (F)
Tomas Nosek (F)
Riley Sheahan (F)
Ben Street (F)
Eric Tangradi (F)
Adam Almquist (D)
Jonathan Ericsson (D)
Niklas Kronwall (D)
Brian Lashoff (D)
Dylan McIlrath (D)
Xavier Ouellet (D)
Ryan Sproul (D)
Jared Coreau (G)
Petr Mrazek (G)
Edward Pasquale (G)
Jake Paterson (G)

Protected
Justin Abdelkader (F)
Andreas Athanasiou (F)
Anthony Mantha (F)
Frans Nielsen (F)
Gustav Nyquist (F)
Tomas Tatar (F)
Henrik Zetterberg (F)
Danny DeKeyser (D)
Mike Green (D)
Nick Jensen (D)
Jimmy Howard (G)

EDMONTON OILERS

Available
David Desharnais (F)
Justin Fontaine (F)
Matt Hendricks (F)
Roman Horak (F)
Jujhar Khaira (F)
Anton Lander (F)
Iiro Pakarinen (F)
Tyler Pitlick (F)
Zach Pochiro (F)
Benoit Pouliot (F)
Henrik Samuelsson (F)
Bogdan Yakimov (F)
Mark Fayne (D)
Andrew Ference (D)
Mark Fraser (D)
Eric Gryba (D)
David Musil (D)
Jordan Oesterle (D)
Griffin Reinhart (D)
Kris Russell (D)
Dillon Simpson (D)
Laurent Brossoit (G)
Jonas Gustavsson (G)

Protected
Leon Draisaitl (F)
Jordan Eberle (F)
Zack Kassian (F)
Mark Letestu (F)
Milan Lucic (F)
Patrick Maroon (F)
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (F)
Oscar Klefbom (D)
Adam Larsson (D)
Andrej Sekera (D)
Cam Talbot (G)

FLORIDA PANTHERS

Available
Graham Black (F)
Tim Bozon (F)
Jaromir Jagr (F)
Jussi Jokinen (F)
Derek MacKenzie (F)
Jonathan Marchessault (F)
Colton Sceviour (F)
Michael Sgarbossa (F)
Reilly Smith (F)
Brody Sutter (F)
Paul Thompson (F)
Shawn Thornton (F)
Thomas Vanek (F)
Jason Demers (D)
Jakub Kindl (D)
Brent Regner (D)
Reece Scarlett (D)
MacKenzie Weegar (D)
Reto Berra (G)
Sam Brittain (G)
Roberto Luongo (G)

Protected
Aleksander Barkov (F)
Nick Bjugstad (F)
Jonathan Huberdeau (F)
Vincent Trocheck (F)
Aaron Ekblad (D)
Alex Petrovic (D)
Mark Pysyk (D)
Keith Yandle (D)
James Reimer (G)

LOS ANGELES KINGS

Available
Andy Andreoff (F)
Justin Auger (F)
Dustin Brown (F)
Kyle Clifford (F)
Andrew Crescenzi (F)
Nic Dowd (F)
Marian Gaborik (F)
Jarome Iginla (F)
Trevor Lewis (F)
Michael Mersch (F)
Jordan Nolan (F)
Teddy Purcell (F)
Devin Setoguchi (F)
Nick Shore (F)
Matt Greene (D)
Vincent Loverde (D)
Brayden McNabb (D)
Cameron Schilling (D)
Rob Scuderi (D)
Zach Trotman (D)
Jack Campbell (G)
Jeff Zatkoff (G)

Protected
Jeff Carter (F)
Anze Kopitar (F)
Tanner Pearson (F)
Tyler Toffoli (F)
Drew Doughty (D)
Derek Forbort (D)
Alec Martinez (D)
Jake Muzzin (D)
Jonathan Quick (G)

MINNESOTA WILD

Available
Brady Brassart (F)
Patrick Cannone (F)
Ryan Carter (F)
Kurtis Gabriel (F)
Martin Hanzal (F)
Erik Haula (F)
Zack Mitchell (F)
Jordan Schroeder (F)
Eric Staal (F)
Chris Stewart (F)
Ryan White (F)
Victor Bartley (D)
Matt Dumba (D)
Christian Folin (D)
Guillaume Gelinas (D)
Alexander Gudbranson (D)
Gustav Olofsson (D)
Nate Prosser (D)
Marco Scandella (D)
Mike Weber (D)
Johan Gustafsson (G)
Darcy Kuemper (G)
Alex Stalock (G)

Protected
Charlie Coyle (F)
Mikael Granlund (F)
Mikko Koivu (F)
Nino Niederreiter (F)
Zach Parise (F)
Jason Pominville (F)
Jason Zucker (F)
Jonas Brodin (D)
Jared Spurgeon (D)
Ryan Suter (D)
Devan Dubnyk (G)

MONTREAL CANADIENS

Available
Daniel Carr (F)
Connor Crisp (F)
Jacob De La Rose (F)
Bobby Farnham (F)
Brian Flynn (F)
Max Friberg (F)
Charles Hudon (F)
Dwight King (F)
Stefan Matteau (F)
Torrey Mitchell (F)
Joonas Nattinen (F)
Steve Ott (F)
Tomas Plekanec (F)
Alexander Radulov (F)
Chris Terry (F)
Brandon Davidson (D)
Alexei Emelin (D)
Keegan Lowe (D)
Andrei Markov (D)
Nikita Nesterov (D)
Zach Redmond (D)
Dalton Thrower (D)
Al Montoya (G)

Protected
Paul Byron (F)
Phillip Danault (F)
Jonathan Drouin (F)
Alex Galchenyuk (F)
Brendan Gallagher (F)
Max Pacioretty (F)
Andrew Shaw (F)
Jordie Benn (D)
Jeff Petry (D)
Shea Weber (D)
Carey Price (G)

NASHVILLE PREDATORS

Available
Pontus Aberg (F)
Cody Bass (F)
Vernon Fiddler (F)
Mike Fisher (F)
Cody McLeod (F)
James Neal (F)
PA Parenteau (F)
Adam Payerl (F)
Mike Ribeiro (F)
Miikka Salomaki (F)
Colton Sissons (F)
Craig Smith (F)
Trevor Smith (F)
Austin Watson (F)
Colin Wilson (F)
Harry Zolnierczyk (F)
Taylor Aronson (D)
Anthony Bitetto (D)
Stefan Elliott (D)
Petter Granberg (D)
Brad Hunt (D)
Matt Irwin (D)
Andrew O’Brien (D)
Adam Pardy (D)
Jaynen Rissling (D)
Scott Valentine (D)
Yannick Weber (D)
Marek Mazanec (G)

Protected
Viktor Arvidsson (F)
Filip Forsberg (F)
Calle Jarnkrok (F)
Ryan Johansen (F)
Mattias Ekholm (D)
Ryan Ellis (D)
Roman Josi (D)
P.K. Subban (D)
Pekka Rinne (G)

NEW JERSEY DEVILS

Available
Beau Bennett (F)
Michael Cammalleri (F)
Carter Camper (F)
Luke Gazdic (F)
Shane Harper (F)
Jacob Josefson (F)
Ivan Khomutov (F)
Stefan Noesen (F)
Marc Savard (F)
Devante Smith-Pelly (F)
Petr Straka (F)
Mattias Tedenby (F)
Ben Thomson (F)
David Wohlberg (F)
Seth Helgeson (D)
Viktor Loov (D)
Ben Lovejoy (D)
Andrew MacWilliam (D)
Jon Merrill (D)
Dalton Prout (D)
Karl Stollery (D)
Alexander Urbom (D)
Keith Kinkaid (G)
Scott Wedgewood (G)

Protected
Taylor Hall (F)
Adam Henrique (F)
Kyle Palmieri (F)
Travis Zajac (F)
Andy Greene (D)
John Moore (D)
Mirco Mueller (D)
Damon Severson (D)
Cory Schneider (G)

NEW YORK ISLANDERS

Available
Josh Bailey (F)
Steve Bernier (F)
Eric Boulton (F)
Jason Chimera (F)
Casey Cizikas (F)
Cal Clutterbuck (F)
Stephen Gionta (F)
Ben Holmstrom (F)
Bracken Kearns (F)
Nikolay Kulemin (F)
Brock Nelson (F)
Shane Prince (F)
Alan Quine (F)
Ryan Strome (F)
Johan Sundstrom (F)
Calvin de Haan (D)
Matthew Finn (D)
Jesse Graham (D)
Thomas Hickey (D)
Loic Leduc (D)
Scott Mayfield (D)
Dennis Seidenberg (D)
Jean-Francois Berube (G)
Christopher Gibson (G)
Jaroslav Halak (G)

Protected
Andrew Ladd (F)
Anders Lee (F)
John Tavares (F)
Johnny Boychuk (D)
Travis Hamonic (D)
Nick Leddy (D)
Adam Pelech (D)
Ryan Pulock (D)
Thomas Greiss (G)

NEW YORK RANGERS

Available
Taylor Beck (F)
Chris Brown (F)
Daniel Catenacci (F)
Jesper Fast (F)
Tanner Glass (F)
Michael Grabner (F)
Marek Hrivik (F)
Nicklas Jensen (F)
Carl Klingberg (F)
Oscar Lindberg (F)
Brandon Pirri (F)
Matt Puempel (F)
Adam Clendening (D)
Tommy Hughes (D)
Steven Kampfer (D)
Kevin Klein (D)
Michael Paliotta (D)
Brendan Smith (D)
Chris Summers (D)
Magnus Hellberg (G)
Antti Raanta (G)
Mackenzie Skapski (G)

Protected
Kevin Hayes (F)
Chris Kreider (F)
J.T. Miller (F)
Rick Nash (F)
Derek Stepan (F)
Mika Zibanejad (F)
Mats Zuccarello (F)
Nick Holden (D)
Ryan McDonagh (D)
Marc Staal (D)
Henrik Lundqvist (G)

OTTAWA SENATORS

Available
Casey Bailey (F)
Mike Blunden (F)
Alexandre Burrows (F)
Stephane Da Costa (F)
Christopher DiDomenico (F)
Nikita Filatov (F)
Chris Kelly (F)
Clarke MacArthur (F)
Max McCormick (F)
Chris Neil (F)
Tom Pyatt (F)
Ryan Rupert (F)
Bobby Ryan (F)
Viktor Stalberg (F)
Phil Varone (F)
Tommy Wingels (F)
Mark Borowiecki (D)
Fredrik Claesson (D)
Brandon Gormley (D)
Jyrki Jokipakka (D)
Marc Methot (D)
Patrick Sieloff (D)
Chris Wideman (D)
Mikael Wikstrand (D)
Mike Condon (G)
Chris Driedger (G)
Andrew Hammond (G)

Protected
Derick Brassard (F)
Ryan Dzingel (F)
Mike Hoffman (F)
Jean-Gabriel Pageau (F)
Zack Smith (F)
Mark Stone (F)
Kyle Turris (F)
Cody Ceci (D)
Erik Karlsson (D)
Dion Phaneuf (D)
Craig Anderson (G)

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS

Available
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (F)
Greg Carey (F)
Chris Conner (F)
Boyd Gordon (F)
Taylor Leier (F)
Colin McDonald (F)
Andy Miele (F)
Michael Raffl (F)
Matt Read (F)
Chris VandeVelde (F)
Jordan Weal (F)
Dale Weise (F)
Eric Wellwood (F)
Mark Alt (D)
TJ Brennan (D)
Michael Del Zotto (D)
Andrew MacDonald (D)
Will O’Neill (D)
Jesper Pettersson (D)
Nick Schultz (D)
Steve Mason (G)
Michal Neuvirth (G)

Protected
Sean Couturier (F)
Valtteri Filppula (F)
Claude Giroux (F)
Scott Laughton (F)
Brayden Schenn (F)
Wayne Simmonds (F)
Jakub Voracek (F)
Shayne Gostisbehere (D)
Radko Gudas (D)
Brandon Manning (D)
Anthony Stolarz (G)

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

Available
Josh Archibald (F)
Nick Bonino (F)
Matt Cullen (F)
Jean-Sebastien Dea (F)
Carl Hagelin (F)
Tom Kuhnhackl (F)
Chris Kunitz (F)
Kevin Porter (F)
Bryan Rust (F)
Tom Sestito (F)
Oskar Sundqvist (F)
Dominik Uher (F)
Garrett Wilson (F)
Scott Wilson (F)
Ian Cole (D)
Frank Corrado (D)
Trevor Daley (D)
Tim Erixon (D)
Cameron Gaunce (D)
Ron Hainsey (D)
Stuart Percy (D)
Derrick Pouliot (D)
Chad Ruhwedel (D)
Mark Streit (D)
David Warsofsky (D)
Marc-Andre Fleury (G)

Protected
Sidney Crosby (F)
Patric Hornqvist (F)
Phil Kessel (F)
Evgeni Malkin (F)
Brian Dumoulin (D)
Kris Letang (D)
Olli Maatta (D)
Justin Schultz (D)
Matt Murray (G)

SAN JOSE SHARKS

Available
Mikkel Boedker (F)
Barclay Goodrow (F)
Micheal Haley (F)
Patrick Marleau (F)
Buddy Robinson (F)
Zack Stortini (F)
Joe Thornton (F)
Joel Ward (F)
Dylan DeMelo (D)
Brenden Dillon (D)
Dan Kelly (D)
Paul Martin (D)
David Schlemko (D)
Aaron Dell (G)
Troy Grosenick (G)
Harri Sateri (G)

Protected
Ryan Carpenter (F)
Logan Couture (F)
Jannik Hansen (F)
Tomas Hertl (F)
Melker Karlsson (F)
Joe Pavelski (F)
Chris Tierney (F)
Justin Braun (D)
Brent Burns (D)
Marc-Edouard Vlasic (D)
Martin Jones (G)

ST. LOUIS BLUES

Available
Kenny Agostino (F)
Andrew Agozzino (F)
Kyle Brodziak (F)
Jordan Caron (F)
Jacob Doty (F)
Landon Ferraro (F)
Alex Friesen (F)
Evgeny Grachev (F)
Dmitrij Jaskin (F)
Jori Lehtera (F)
Brad Malone (F)
Magnus Paajarvi (F)
David Perron (F)
Ty Rattie (F)
Scottie Upshall (F)
Nail Yakupov (F)
Robert Bortuzzo (D)
Chris Butler (D)
Morgan Ellis (D)
Carl Gunnarsson (D)
Jani Hakanpaa (D)
Petteri Lindbohm (D)
Reid McNeill (D)
Jordan Binnington (G)
Carter Hutton (G)

Protected
Patrik Berglund (F)
Ryan Reaves (F)
Jaden Schwartz (F)
Vladimir Sobotka (F)
Paul Stastny (F)
Alexander Steen (F)
Vladimir Tarasenko (F)
Jay Bouwmeester (D)
Joel Edmundson (D)
Alex Pietrangelo (D)
Jake Allen (G)

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

Available
Carter Ashton (F)
Michael Bournival (F)
J.T. Brown (F)
Cory Conacher (F)
Erik Condra (F)
Gabriel Dumont (F)
Stefan Fournier (F)
Byron Froese (F)
Yanni Gourde (F)
Mike Halmo (F)
Henri Ikonen (F)
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (F)
Tye McGinn (F)
Greg McKegg (F)
Cedric Paquette (F)
Tanner Richard (F)
Joel Vermin (F)
Dylan Blujus (D)
Jake Dotchin (D)
Jason Garrison (D)
Slater Koekkoek (D)
Jonathan Racine (D)
Andrej Sustr (D)
Matt Taormina (D)
Luke Witkowski (D)
Peter Budaj (G)
Kristers Gudlevskis (G)
Jaroslav Janus (G)
Mike McKenna (G)

Protected
Ryan Callahan (F)
Tyler Johnson (F)
Alex Killorn (F)
Nikita Kucherov (F)
Vladislav Namestnikov (F)
Ondrej Palat (F)
Steven Stamkos (F)
Braydon Coburn (D)
Victor Hedman (D)
Anton Stralman (D)
Andrei Vasilevskiy (G)

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

Available
Brian Boyle (F)
Eric Fehr (F)
Colin Greening (F)
Seth Griffith (F)
Teemu Hartikainen (F)
Brooks Laich (F)
Brendan Leipsic (F)
Joffrey Lupul (F)
Milan Michalek (F)
Kerby Rychel (F)
Ben Smith (F)
Andrew Campbell (D)
Matt Hunwick (D)
Alexey Marchenko (D)
Martin Marincin (D)
Steve Oleksy (D)
Roman Polak (D)
Antoine Bibeau (G)
Curtis McElhinney (G)
Garret Sparks (G)

Protected
Tyler Bozak (F)
Connor Brown (F)
Nazem Kadri (F)
Leo Komarov (F)
Josh Leivo (F)
Matt Martin (F)
James van Riemsdyk (F)
Connor Carrick (D)
Jake Gardiner (D)
Morgan Rielly (D)
Frederik Andersen (G)

VANCOUVER CANUCKS

Available
Reid Boucher (F)
Michael Chaput (F)
Joseph Cramarossa (F)
Derek Dorsett (F)
Brendan Gaunce (F)
Alexandre Grenier (F)
Jayson Megna (F)
Borna Rendulic (F)
Anton Rodin (F)
Drew Shore (F)
Jack Skille (F)
Michael Zalewski (F)
Alex Biega (D)
Philip Larsen (D)
Tom Nilsson (D)
Andrey Pedan (D)
Luca Sbisa (D)
Richard Bachman (G)
Ryan Miller (G)

Protected
Sven Baertschi (F)
Loui Eriksson (F)
Markus Granlund (F)
Bo Horvat (F)
Daniel Sedin (F)
Henrik Sedin (F)
Brandon Sutter (F)
Alexander Edler (D)
Erik Gudbranson (D)
Christopher Tanev (D)
Jacob Markstrom (G)

WASHINGTON CAPITALS

Available
Jay Beagle (F)
Chris Bourque (F)
Paul Carey (F)
Brett Connolly (F)
Stanislav Galiev (F)
Tyler Graovac (F)
Garrett Mitchell (F)
Liam O’Brien (F)
T.J. Oshie (F)
Zach Sill (F)
Chandler Stephenson (F)
Christian Thomas (F)
Nathan Walker (F)
Justin Williams (F)
Daniel Winnik (F)
Karl Alzner (D)
Taylor Chorney (D)
Cody Corbett (D)
Darren Dietz (D)
Christian Djoos (D)
Tom Gilbert (D)
Aaron Ness (D)
Brooks Orpik (D)
Nate Schmidt (D)
Kevin Shattenkirk (D)
Pheonix Copley (G)
Philipp Grubauer (G)

Protected
Nicklas Backstrom (F)
Andre Burakovsky (F)
Lars Eller (F)
Marcus Johansson (F)
Evgeny Kuznetsov (F)
Alex Ovechkin (F)
Tom Wilson (F)
John Carlson (D)
Matt Niskanen (D)
Dmitry Orlov (D)
Braden Holtby (G)

WINNIPEG JETS

Available
Marko Dano (F)
Quinton Howden (F)
Scott Kosmachuk (F)
Tomas Kubalik (F)
JC Lipon (F)
Shawn Matthias (F)
Ryan Olsen (F)
Anthony Peluso (F)
Chris Thorburn (F)
Ben Chiarot (D)
Toby Enstrom (D)
Brenden Kichton (D)
Julian Melchiori (D)
Paul Postma (D)
Brian Strait (D)
Mark Stuart (D)
Michael Hutchinson (G)
Ondrej Pavelec (G)

Protected
Joel Armia (F)
Andrew Copp (F)
Bryan Little (F)
Adam Lowry (F)
Mathieu Perreault (F)
Mark Scheifele (F)
Blake Wheeler (F)
Dustin Byfuglien (D)
Tyler Myers (D)
Jacob Trouba (D)
Connor Hellebuyck (G)

It’s ‘reasonable’ to expect Schultz and Hornqvist will play Game 7

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The Pittsburgh Penguins could have a couple of reinforcements for tomorrow’s seventh and deciding game against the Ottawa Senators at PPG Paints Arena.

Pens coach Mike Sullivan said this morning that it would be “reasonable” to expect the returns of defenseman Justin Schultz and forward Patric Hornqvist.

Schultz was injured early in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final and hasn’t played since. But he traveled with the team to Game 6, suggesting he was getting close to a return.

Hornqvist hasn’t played since Game 1, and he didn’t travel to Game 6. Instead, he stayed back in Pittsburgh to rehab, along with fellow injured teammates Chad Ruhwedel and Tom Kuhnhackl.

The Penguins lost last night by a score of 2-1, but they weren’t particularly upset with how they played.

“I thought we played a real good game,” said Sullivan. “I thought we dominated zone time. We had lots of chances. We didn’t score tonight. The puck didn’t go in the net, but if we continue to play the game that way, then I believe we’ll get the result.”

Same lineup expected for Pens, but Sens will have changes

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Plenty of injuries on both sides ahead of tonight’s Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final between Pittsburgh and Ottawa.

We’ll start with the Penguins, who seem likely to ice the same lineup they did Sunday. Head coach Mike Sullivan confirmed today that Justin Schultz, Chad Ruhwedel, Patric Hornqvist, and Tom Kuhnhackl remain out.

“Kuhnhackl, Ruhwedel and Hornqvist stayed back in Pittsburgh. They’re rehabbing back there,” said Sullivan. “Schultz is here in Ottawa with us. He is rehabbing as well, but he will not play tonight.”

As for the Senators, head coach Guy Boucher has some “warmup decisions” to make. Forward Ryan Dzingel will be back in. Forwards Chris Kelly and Colin White could be in, too, because Tommy Wingels and Alex Burrows are both out.

The question is whether the Sens go with seven defensemen again, or back to six. If it’s the latter, White could draw in.

White, 20, has not played in these playoffs, and he only played two NHL games in the regular season.  A Boston College product, he was the 21st overall pick in the 2015 draft. He only recently signed his entry-level contract with the Sens.

“I mean, he’s a guy who’s a really smart player,” said Boucher. “He’s got speed, lots of speed, a guy that drives the net, and he’s very reliable on both ends of the ice. That’s why we’re considering him.”

The Senators need to win tonight. If they don’t, the Penguins will advance to the Stanley Cup Final.