Fleury among players exposed for Vegas NHL expansion draft

The NHL announced Sunday the players that each of the league's 30 existing teams has protected in the expansion draft and which players each team has made available to the Las Vegas Golden Knights.

The Vegas Golden Knights, unlike expansion teams in the past, will get a chance to draft some talented players. The 30 players the Golden Knights decide to choose will come from a list of players that the other teams in the National Hockey League left unprotected. No more, no less. You can't get too cute and try to complicate it too much, and we're being real direct with players.

Notable defensemen include Cornwall native Adam McQuaid of the Boston Bruins, Sami Vatanen of the Anaheim Ducks, Toby Enstrom of the Winnipeg Jets and Matt Dumba of the Minnesota Wild. "This has worked out very well for the Vegas Golden Knights, and we expect to put a good, entertaining club on the ice".

The Predators were put in a bind in being forced to expose Neal, a 10-time 20-goal-scorer, because they elected to protect a fourth defenseman.

Meanwhile the Columbus Dispatch reported the Blue Jackets are believed to be trading this year's first-round draft pick (No. 24 overall) and a prospect (not Pierre-Luc Dubois or Sonny Milano) to Vegas for assurances that the Golden Knights will pluck either left wing Matt Calvert, centre William Karlsson or defenceman Ryan Murray, thereby allowing Columbus to retain some of their more coveted exposed players.

The Golden Knights are allowed to choose a total of 30 players in Wednesday's draft, which leaves the other 30 National Hockey League teams nervous for their available players.

The exposed players will be among hundreds of players ripe for the picking for Vegas, which must assemble its 30-man roster by taking one player from each team. They protected forwards Paul Stastny, Alexander Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko, Jaden Schwartz, Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka and Ryan Reaves, along with defensemen Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester and Joel Edmundson plus goalie Jake Allen.

That benefits the Golden Knights because it maintained a deeper pool of talent available. It's clear that Blackhawks' general manager Stan Bowman is fairly high on Tomas Jurco, given the fact that he gave up a third round draft pick for him at the trade deadline.

McPhee has made it known he won't pick preferred available players if opposing clubs offer up valuable long-term assets.

Indeed, he mentioned that the Golden Knights won't make a claim until they speak to every team.

When it comes to consistency, there aren't many players more consistent than Neal, who hit the 20-goal mark for the ninth time in his career and he added another six in Nashville's run to the Stanley Cup finals, where they were beaten by Neal's former team, Pittsburgh.

General Manager George McPhee of the Las Vegas Golden Knights attends the NHL Combine at HarborCenter on June 3, 2017 in Buffalo, New York.

The protected lists were revealed Sunday morning and distinctly state which players are available and which are protected.

"We've had a lot of discussions with free agents, we've had a lot of agents call, healthy discussions, and at this point, I don't know what direction things will go with respect to free agents", he said. Any pending free agent signed would count as Vegas' expansion-draft selection from that player's team. Sure, he could sign a free agent July 1, or he could take advantage of this rare circumstance.

The NHL salary cap has been set at $75 million for this season in a slight increase over past year.