The Minnesota Wild would "rather lose a player (in the NHL Expansion Draft) than make a bad trade," vice president Brent Flahr told the Star Tribune on Wednesday.
Minnesota is facing difficult decisions in crafting its protected list. Each of the 30 other NHL teams must submit their list of protected players by 5 p.m. ET June 17. The Vegas Golden Knights will be given the lists at 10 a.m. on June 18 and will have until 10 a.m. on June 21 to submit their selections.
Flahr said Minnesota would rather make a trade with Vegas, or someone else, to ensure its roster, but only if it made sense to do so.
"We've talked to other teams," he said. "If we want to move players, we can certainly move players, but at the same time, we're hoping maybe we can get something done with Vegas. We'd obviously have to pay a price of some kind [to make a trade with Vegas], but the reality is, we're going to lose a player [to expansion]. We have to figure out what's best for us, not only next year but moving forward."
Minnesota is expected to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender rather than eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender.
Defenseman Ryan Suter will be protected, meaning two of Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba, Marco Scandella and Jared Spurgeon would be available to the Golden Knights.
Of the Wild forwards, Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and Jason Pominville each has a no-movement clause in his contract. If no one waives it, that would leave four forward spots for any combination of Charlie Coyle, Eric Staal, Jason Zucker and restricted free agents Mikael Granlund and Nino Niederreiter.
Granlund led the Wild with 69 points last season, and Niederreiter set NHL career highs of 25 goals and 57 points. Zucker is the only active NHL player from Las Vegas.
"I wouldn't say we've made any decisions (on which players to protect)," Flahr said. "There's lots of different trade scenarios out there that could affect our list. We can just sit back and expose the players we want to expose, we can pay a price to get a certain player off a different team through [Vegas], we can pay a price to get them not to take a player. There's lots of different variables."
The announcement of the Golden Knights selections will be made at the NHL Awards (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN).
A player with a no-movement clause in his contract at the time of the expansion draft must be protected unless he waives it. All first- and second-year professional players, and unsigned draft choices, are exempt from selection by Vegas and do not have to be protected.
Vegas must select one player from each team to fill a roster of at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies, with a minimum of 20 players under contract for next season. The value of the salaries must be at least 60 percent of this season's NHL salary cap (about $43.8 million).
Vegas also can sign any restricted or unrestricted free agent left unprotected by his team from June 18-21. These free agents would not otherwise be allowed to sign with a team different than the one they played for this season until July 1.