Cam Tucker

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After developing players, ‘it’s a bit frustrating’ to possibly lose one in expansion draft

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) There were many years in Minnesota Wild history when assembling a list of their top 10 players would have been a breeze.

That was the biggest challenge this offseason.

The downside to the roster depth the Wild have built has arrived this week in the form of the NHL expansion draft, which will rob them of a valuable player on Wednesday night when the Vegas Golden Knights construct their inaugural team with one player from each of the other 30 clubs.

With defensemen Matt Dumba and Marco Scandella at the front of the queue, the Wild stand to lose as much as any team.

“They paid a large expansion fee, and the rules are set up that they’re going to get some tremendous assets out of this process, as they should,” Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher said. He added: “It’s actually, I think, a compliment to our organization that we have so many tough decisions.”

Read more:

Wild could lose Dumba, Scandella or Staal in expansion draft

Wild didn’t make a move prior to trade freeze deadline

Fletcher and his top lieutenant, Brent Flahr, quickly realized last summer their vulnerability once the NHL revealed the expansion draft guidelines.

“We did the math very quickly, and we were like, `We’re going to lose a good player,”‘ Fletcher said last week, before the lists were submitted to the league .

The Wild chose the seven forwards (Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, Mikko Koivu, Nino Niederreiter, Zach Parise, Jason Pominville and Jason Zucker), three defensemen (Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon and Ryan Suter) and one goalie (Devan Dubnyk) option, rather than the eight skaters (any combination of forwards and defensemen) and one goalie alternative.

That left Martin Hanzal, Erik Haula, Jordan Schroeder, Eric Staal, Chris Stewart and Ryan White among the unprotected forwards who factored into the postseason lineups and Dumba, Christian Folin and Scandella among the unprotected defensemen. With no-trade clauses in their contracts, veterans Koivu, Parise, Pominville and Suter were mandatory inclusions on the protected list.

“The good news is we can only lose one player. Sometimes at 3 in the morning when I wake up, I remind myself of that: `You can lose only one player. Go back to sleep,”‘ Fletcher said. “But when you’ve drafted and developed a lot of these players, it is a bit frustrating, I’ll admit that.”

The Wild could work out a trade with the Golden Knights to get them to agree not to pick a particular unprotected player, but Vegas general manager George McPhee has made clear he’s in it to win it . Without a first or second-round draft pick this year, the Wild would likely have to part with a player in that scenario, which would mean losing two of them instead of one.

Staal is a first-line center who had 28 goals and 65 points, his highest totals in five years, but at age 32 he’s less attractive. The Wild protected 25-year-old right wing Jason Zucker, a native of Las Vegas, instead.

Dumba, despite a penchant for sloppy and inconsistent play, is just 22 and coming off a career season with 11 goals and 23 assists. He has one of the hardest shots on the team. The 27-year-old Scandella was one of the few bright spots during the first-round loss in the playoffs to the St. Louis Blues.

“I’m pretty confident I know how we’ll look coming out of it,” Fletcher said, “and that’s still a heck of a hockey team.”

 

Report: Isles, Vegas working on expansion draft deal (Updated)

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The New York Islanders offered a surprise Sunday, when the publicly released available/protected expansion draft lists revealed they had protected five defensemen.

Of the notable players left unprotected were Calvin de Haan, Ryan Strome and Brock Nelson. However, it appears the Islanders and Vegas Golden Knights may have quite a deal in place.

From Long Island Newsday:

The Islanders have a deal in place to send their first-round pick to Vegas to steer the expansion franchise toward selecting a designated player off the Isles’ unprotected list, two NHL sources confirmed to Newsday on Monday.

TSN first reported the existence of the deal.

The player designated for selection is still unknown, though clearly the goal for general manager Garth Snow is to clear some salary-cap space to upgrade the team’s roster before next season.

Golden Knights general manager George McPhee has said that Monday is the last day for other clubs to make trades with Vegas.

He’s been quite clear that he would like to accumulate draft picks and future assets — and he’ll certainly get that opportunity, publicly stating that he’d allow other GMs to negotiate deals with him in order for them to keep certain players they left unprotected but don’t want taken in the expansion draft.

Shane Doan: ‘It was the owner’s decision’

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The Shane Doan Era in Arizona has ended — a development that rocked the hockey world Monday.

According to Doan, who spoke with the Burns and Gambo Show on Arizona Sports 98.7, owner Andrew Barroway made the decision not to bring back the 40-year-old forward, who has spent his entire career with one franchise and was a pending unrestricted free agent.

Barroway recently became the sole owner of the franchise, completing the buyout of his minority partners.

“Yeah, it was the owner’s decision. When he got possession of the team … he chose that he wanted to go with the younger group and that me being around might’ve kind of delayed things,” said Doan in the interview.

“Sometimes you’ve got to rip the band-aid off and I guess that was kind of the approach they were looking at. The fact that they traded (Mike Smith) right after, you understand … they were making sure they were getting rid of the things that were from the past.”

As noted earlier today at PHT after the news broke, it was Barroway that released a statement, saying that the Coyotes would not offer Doan a contract.

The Coyotes traded Smith to the Calgary Flames on Saturday, getting pending UFA goalie Chad Johnson, prospect Brandon Hickey and a conditional third-round draft pick.

Doan has played his entire career for the same franchise, spending one year in Winnipeg before the Jets relocated to Phoenix and became the Coyotes. He’s played 1,540 games throughout his career, scoring 402 goals and 972 points, captaining the team since 2003.

The Coyotes haven’t made the playoffs since 2012 and have been in a full-on rebuild, getting younger and acquiring draft picks and prospects.

Doan admitted to feeling sadness and anger at the decision, and that he wasn’t expecting it. But he also expressed that he was grateful to play for so long with the same franchise, even if the Coyotes had — and are still dealing with — arena issues and haven’t made the playoffs in the past five seasons.

Doan will now turn his attention toward the future, as a free agent. After scoring 28 goals and 47 points in 2015-16, his numbers dropped this past season with only six goals and 27 points in 74 games.

His agent, Terry Bross, said today that it’s time for his client to get a shot at the Stanley Cup. But it will be interesting to see which competitive teams take a shot on a 40-year-old winger who admittedly had a down year — and for what price.

“I’m trying to sort through the emotions of it. I know … my personality and my initial response is, ‘You challenge me that way, then I’m going to want to prove you wrong.’ Initially, there’s no doubt in my mind that I want to prove to them I can be effective and help,” said Doan.

“As the two days have calmed down, it’s like, ‘Okay, I want to make a decision that’s right and not just one out of competitiveness and anger.’

“I want to get an … honest idea of where I’d be and what it would be like.”

Is Madison Bowey NHL ready? The Capitals seem to think so

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The Washington Capitals may have more than one opening on the blue line for next season, which could present an opportunity for prospect defenseman Madison Bowey.

Taken in the second round of the 2013 NHL Draft, Bowey has spent the last two seasons with Hershey in the American Hockey League, and could make the jump to the Capitals roster next season.

Washington currently has two pending unrestricted free agent defensemen in Karl Alzner and Kevin Shattenkirk. Nate Schmidt, who had a strong playoff once he entered the lineup, was left unprotected in the expansion draft and may provide a nice pick-up for Vegas.

Depending on who returns, it could open the door for the 22-year-old Bowey.

Bowey’s 2016-17 season — his second in the AHL — was derailed by an ankle injury in December. He was held to just 34 regular season games with three goals and 14 points. He then appeared in 10 postseason games, with four points, and it appears his play in the minors had already left a favorable impression on the Capitals’ brass.

After losing in the second round yet again, the Capitals face an interesting offseason. They have five pending UFAs, and although the salary cap did increase to $75 million for next season, they also need to give priority to their pending restricted free agents like Andre Burakovsky and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan has already indicated there will be something of a youth movement in Washington for next season.

“We’re going to be getting younger, our prospects are developing and they’re going to take a bigger role,” he said, per the Washington Post. “It’s just going to be a different feel to it, I think.”

Related: Looking to make the leap: Madison Bowey

Report: Russian scorer Dadonov likely to play in Vegas next season

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As the Golden Knights continue to work at the expansion draft, Vegas may also be getting closer to bringing in another KHL scorer.

According to KHL reporter Aivis Kalnins, it appears the Golden Knights and Evgeny Dadonov have resumed contract talks, and it is likely the 28-year-old forward will play in Vegas next season.

Just over a month ago, reports surfaced that Vegas had interest in Dadonov. That would be quite an addition for the Golden Knights, who have already signed his St. Petersburg SKA teammate Vadim Shipachyov to a two-year, $9 million deal this offseason.

A third-round pick of the Florida Panthers in 2007, Dadonov has spent time in the NHL and AHL, playing a total of 55 games for the Panthers, before he left for Europe for the 2012-13 season.

He has since gone on to light up the KHL, with 30 goals and 66 points in 53 games last season, finishing fifth in the league in overall scoring, as both he and Shipachyov were among the top point producers on a loaded St. Petersburg squad.

The Golden Knights will reveal their roster from the expansion draft on Wednesday. General manager George McPhee has a variety of different options at all positions, but he also has the power to make trades with other NHL clubs in order for those teams to not lose certain players from their unprotected lists.

McPhee said that Monday is the last day to make trades with Vegas. Of course, going beyond the NHL to help build his roster for next season and beyond could be a beneficial move, too.