The Blue Jackets released their lists of protected and available players for the 2017 Expansion Draft Sunday providing a little more insight into which Jacket may end up as a member of the Vegas Golden Knights.
With the Golden Knights joining the NHL in the upcoming season, the newest team will be selecting one player from each existing team's unprotected list to build their inaugural roster.
"In every decision, we've had to keep (expansion) in mind this year," Jarmo Kekalainen said. "Nothing can be done without thinking how it will affect us in the Expansion Draft. It's added another dimension into the decision-making process that we haven't had."
As teams built their protected lists, there were a few rules, most prominently:
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- Any player with a "no movement" clause had to be protected unless that clause was waived.
- Each team had the option to protect either seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender for a total of 11 players; or, they could elect to safeguard eight skaters (forwards or defensemen) and one goaltender for a total of eight players.
- Any player in his first or second professional year, or any player currently unsigned, is exempt from selection by Vegas.
The Jackets chose to go the 7-3-1 route and were helped by the fact that 24 of the players in the organization are exempt from selection due to their years of service.
Protected Blue Jackets include: forwards Cam Atkinson, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Scott Hartnell, Boone Jenner, Brandon Saad, and Alexander Wennberg; defensemen Seth Jones, Ryan Murray and David Savard; and goaltender, Sergei Bobrovsky.
Exposed NHL players include: Forwards Josh Anderson, Matt Calvert, Sam Gagner (UFA), William Karlsson, Lauri Korpikoski (UFA), and Lukas Sedlak; defensemen Scott Harrington, Jack Johnson, and Kyle Quincey (UFA).
Minor-league players exposed include: Alex Broadhurst, Zac Dalpe, Brett Gallant (UFA), and T.J. Tynan (UFA); defensemen Marc-Andre Bergeron (UFA), John Ramage, Jamie Sifers (UFA), and Ryan Stanton (UFA); and goaltenders Oscar Dansk and Anton Forsberg.
Think you're missing other notable names? Players like Zach Werenski, Pierre-Luc Dubois, Sonny Milano, Keegan Kolesar, Gabriel Carlsson and Markus Nutivaara are all early enough in their careers to prohibit their selection by Vegas.
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And while the youth of the team was an asset for the Jackets in keeping the organization's roster intact, a few players missed being protected by just one year based on the Draft's rules. That has meant that Kekalainen and the Jackets have had to evaluate the current stable of players and make some hard decisions.
"Had (the Expansion Draft) been a year before we wouldn't have had any protection problems," Kekalainen said. "Guys like Wennberg and Anderson would have been exempt (because it was their second year as a professional) and wouldn't have to be protected."
Jackets management has been diligent in considering the effects of the Expansion Draft and Kekalainen says there have been good conversations with Vegas' front office.
"We wanted to make sure that we didn't get into another type of problem where you have to make your team weaker and are possibly trading guys for futures," Kekalainen said. "We've had some good talks with Vegas and we believe we're going to come to a good solution.
"Unfortunately, we're going to lose a good player, but we're going to try to make it easiest for our organization to try to replace that player even though it's going to be hard."
So now that each team's lists of protected and unprotected players are public, what comes next?
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As of Friday, at 3 p.m., a League-wide trade freeze went into effect with only the Golden Knights able to make trades until 8 a.m. on Thursday, June 22.
The Golden Knights can continue to discuss transactions, and they can also pursue conversations with restricted and unrestricted free agents. Should Las Vegas sign any free agent, that will count as the Golden Knights' selection from the player's former team.
By 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 21, the Golden Knights will turn in their selections and the first ever Vegas Golden Knights roster will be announced to the public during the NHL Awards ceremony that evening (8 p.m. ET).
Who will Vegas take from the Jackets? We won't know for a few more days, but Kekalainen is hopeful the ongoing talks between the two organizations will result in the Jackets having a little more control over the roster impact of the Expansion Draft.
"We started talking to Vegas early and now having gone through this process with the lists revealed," Kekalainen said. "We're hopeful and believe that everything will work out for the best."