Sabres Expansion Draft Protected List

McPhee was excited to discover the cache of quality players to choose from.

"I heard gunfire coming from the camp and I saw people running out of the site", said Modibo Diarra, who lives nearby.

Now that the lists are out and Vegas can really make decisions, the league looks in for a insane few days.

"That really didn't happen, which we were really happy about", said McPhee.

The Golden Knights can't just claim a bunch of low-priced players and tank for profits and high draft picks in their inaugural season; they are required to reach the National Hockey League salary floor, which according to Elliotte Friedman, will be set at $55.4 million for 2017-2018. In other words, McPhee is happy to accept a collection of draft picks, prospects and other assets in exchange for not selecting certain players.

The Knights acknowledged as much when they released the following press release late Saturday. They only need a couple, and there's opportunities for trades from that perspective.

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There's also nothing barring Vegas from having a deal in place to select a player in order to trade him to another team.

As has been noted throughout this process, the protection lists are somewhat of a starting point for each of the 30 teams that will be forced to lose a player to the expansion Golden Knights. It has already been reported the Knights will receive a 1st rounder from Columbus in return for taking David Clarkson.

Nashville Predators forward James Neal and Anaheim Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen also were left unprotected.

Before the end of the week, the NHL's 31st team will have enough players to take the ice.

On Sunday morning Blues fans found out who won't be moving on, after the league revealed the "protected" list of each club - players who can't be selected by Vegas. People have identified people on other clubs that they'd like to have. How do we want to do this?

"You can negotiate your way out of this if you wish", McPhee said his message is to other GMs. With the amount of talent left unprotected, that teams do not intend to compensate for, the Golden Knights should be able to piece together a very competitive team from the very start of the franchise.

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The Penguins also might have bought out Fleury's contract, but that would have left them with a salary cap penalty of nearly $3 million per year for the next four seasons. Vegas may be challenged to score in the early-going and Neal would help those efforts as a one-year stop-gap.

Teams were required to expose a minimum of two forwards and one defensemen who were under contract for the 2017-18 season and had played a minimum of 40 games last season or 70 games in the past two seasons. There's another club that has interest in this player. He has one year left on his contract at $5 million, and would surely command a hefty sum at the trade deadline. Demers signed a five-year deal with the Panthers on July 2. Still just 26, he would be a great mentor for some of the younger d-men. At 25, he could be a Top Six forward with the Knights, carrying a team friendly cap hit of just $640,000 U.S. before his deal runs out in 2018.

But trades that didn't happen before the freeze stood out even more, most notably the Wild not dealing Matt Dumba, Marco Scandella or Jonas Brodin, and the Senators not moving Marc Methot or Dion Phaneuf.

At 32, he could be the ideal captain for a young team like this.

Two forwards will be exposed in this scenario, with Kruger and his $3 million cap hit joining Jordin Tootoo in that category.

Philipp Grubauer (Capitals) might be ready for prime time after serving as Braden Holtby's backup.

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The Detroit Red Wings also made a fascinating decision by opting to protect goaltender Jimmy Howard over Petr Mrazek.

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