The unprotected lists are out there for George McPhee and the Vegas Golden Knights.
While there is immense curiosity to see which players they select and what kind of side deals they make with other clubs, one area to keep an eye on will be goaltending.
There are certainly plenty of options available for McPhee — not just to ice a capable goaltending duo for the upcoming season, but to perhaps pick and then flip in order to gain younger assets and/or draft picks to help really kickstart the future growth of that franchise.
What may have been surprising on Sunday, however, was that the Detroit Red Wings opted to protect Jimmy Howard instead of Petr Mrazek, despite the latter being eight years younger and currently about $1.2 million cheaper.
The Golden Knights must take three goalies in the expansion draft. But they can also take more than that if they choose, and it’s been widely suggested that if they select more than three goalies, Vegas can then swing that surplus of netminders into potential trade chips.
McPhee has essentially indicated he’s open for business, giving teams the opportunity to “negotiate your way out of this if you wish.” That’s the sound of one general manager holding all the cards in this process.
We’ve already seen an active goalie market this offseason. The Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes made moves earlier on to improve their goaltending for the upcoming season. The Calgary Flames were the latest to get in on the action, acquiring Mike Smith and sending pending unrestricted free agent Chad Johnson to the Coyotes.
Like a scramble in the crease, the goalie market could become even more frantic by the time the expansion draft is over.