GLENDALE -- The Coyotes have embraced the arrival of the Vegas Golden Knights into the NHL and are looking forward to the development of a, ahem, heated hockey rivalry in the desert.
"I think it's great to have another team so close to us," General Manager John Chayka said Thursday. "It's a natural rival and I hope it evolves that way. They are going to have a pretty good team as an expansion team. For us to have a team so close will be a real positive and exciting for the fans."
The Valley and Vegas are about 300 miles apart, and the teams are expected to play each other five times in 2017-18.
Arizona, and the other 29 incumbent NHL teams, soon will learn which player on their roster they will lose to the Golden Knights as part of the NHL Expansion Draft. Each team is required to submit a list of protected players to the NHL by 2 p.m. (Arizona time) on Saturday. Vegas will then pick its roster from players not protected and not exempt, and announce its choices on Wednesday in conjunction with the annual NHL Awards ceremony at T-Mobile Arena, the Knights' home rink.
Chayka and his staff have been busy mulling Arizona's list of protected players. Per Expansion Draft rules, teams can protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie or eight skaters and one goalie.
"We haven't made a decision and won't until as close as that decision needs to be made as it's a fluid situation as a lot of players will be moved here in the League," Chayka said. "We will see what opportunities arise and take advantage of them hopefully and then adjust as it goes. There is a lot of uncertainty right now ... Every team is going to lose one player. So we are going to lose one player unfortunately, but when a team pays $500 million to enter the league then they deserve a player and that is what will occur."
Any player with two or fewer years of NHL/AHL experience is exempt from the expansion draft and players with no-movement clauses must be protected unless they agree to waive it.
"It's really busy," Chayka said. "It's a unique event bringing in another team to the League. It's something that has been fun, different and exciting. It changes up the calendar a little; things getting kicked off sooner. For us, it's a unique opportunity. We have a lot of exempt players because we have a lot of good, young players so it's about trying to find one or two special opportunities, and we need to take advantage of the situation. Our staff has worked really hard and it will be exciting for the League as a whole."
Chayka said teams will not be notified as to which player they have lost to Vegas until it is announced publicly on Wednesday.
Video: Chayka discusses Expansion Draft
• The NHL on Thursday released the complete order of selection for the 2017 NHL Entry Draft in Chicago on June 23-24.
The Coyotes own seven picks in the draft, including the seventh and 23rd overall selections.
"We think this draft has a lot of depth and compares very well to any of the other drafts except at the very top end," said Tim Bernhardt, the team's director of amateur scouting.
• The Coyotes are bringing NHL hockey to Tucson.
Arizona will take on the Anaheim Ducks in a preseason game set for Sept. 25 at the Tucson Arena, home of the Coyotes' American Hockey League affiliate - the Tucson Roadrunners.
"We were thrilled with the tremendous support the Roadrunners received last season and our players are looking forward to playing in this game in front of all of our great fans in Tucson," Chayka said in a press release announcing the game, one of seven Arizona will play in the preseason. The Coyotes also will play four road games and two home games at Gila River Arena in Glendale:
Monday, Sept. 18: vs. Los Angeles Kings, 7 p.m.
Wednesday, Sept. 20: at Anaheim Ducks, 7 p.m.
Friday, Sept. 22: at Calgary Flames, 6 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 23: vs. San Jose Sharks, 6 p.m.
Monday, Sept. 25: vs. Anaheim Ducks (at Tucson), 7 p.m.
Thursday, Sept. 28: at Los Angeles Kings, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, Sept. 30: at San Jose Sharks, 7 p.m.