Expansion draft: Panthers protect Bjugstad, leave Marchessault, Smith, Luongo up for grabs

New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero

Which is why he'd be a good choice for the Las Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft-Carrier is young, has Western Conference size, can skate, plays a north/south game and has upside. Their selections will be revealed later to the public later Wednesday night at the 2017 NHL Awards at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The Bruins are most likely to lose one of two defensemen - Adam McQuaid and Colin Miller.

Washington isn't the only team that might see a talented player plucked from its roster for nothing.

Let's take a look at the five best players available for the Golden Knights.

The Panthers also protected four of their core forwards in Jonathan Huberdeau, Sasha Barkov, Nick Bjugstad and Vincent Trocheck. There are rumors that agreements might be in place to help Anaheim keep young defensemen Sami Vatanen and Josh Manson or Columbus keep young power forward Josh Anderson.

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

The Montreal Canadiens recouped a third-round pick from the Buffalo Sabres for 24-year-old defenseman Nathan Beaulieu, who has a connection to Vegas coach Gerard Gallant and would've been left exposed in the expansion draft.

Now begins the jockeying regarding some of those top players. The Golden Knight can't select 10 goalies because they're required to use up 26 of their 30 picks in filling 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalie spots.

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.

"I'm really pleased with what's available", general manager George McPhee said Sunday after protection lists and available players were released. The Golden Knights could enter the National Hockey League with a perfectly fine team, but from all indications, GM George McPhee won't be satisfied with that; he's got some dealing to do, and it'll be dealing from a position of power.

Vegas has made its willingness to negotiate known, meaning it might just stay away from certain players if the price is right. "When we call general managers back, we're basically saying, 'Do you want to hear what's going on with your team, or are you just content to sit and we're going to do what we want to do?' majority want to talk about it, and then we tell them exactly what's going on and if they want to do something about it or not". That suggests an understanding of the Knights' mediocrity in the early going and the need for as many potential draft picks and prospects as possible. Any pending free agent signed would count as Vegas' expansion-draft selection from that player's team. "It's not so much an expansion draft for them as it is an accumulation of assets", Calgary General Manager Brad Treliving recently told Sportsnet 960 The Fan's "Boomer in the Morning".

With the Knights having until Wednesday to submit their picks, here is a breakdown of the upcoming expansion draft including who's available - and why or why the Knights will or won't take a player. Even if the Golden Knights don't sign any unrestricted free agents by Wednesday night, this serves as a sort of first negotiating advantage for them before the first day of free agency on July 1. "Usually, you're talking to teams or thinking of teams and you have some sort of idea of how they're built or their history or whatever it may be, and they are completely fresh".

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