"It's all but guaranteed the Golden Knights take (Fleury)", writes Matt Larkin this week in The Hockey News. In some cases, added inducement could be handed to the Knights to take a specific player.
"We really like what we're looking at right now", Golden Knights general manager George McPhee told reporters.
From the resulting lists of unprotected players, the Golden Knights are permitted to claim one player from each team. If the Expansion Club signs a Restricted Free Agent from the Available List of a Current Club during said period, the Current Club will not be entitled to any compensation from the Expansion Club.
Let the mock drafting begin.
The other 30 teams had the option to protect one goaltender, three defensemen and seven forwards or one goalie and eight skaters (which could be a combination of forwards and defensemen).
Some players left unprotected, such as Ottawa forward Bobby Ryan, carry hefty contracts, which Vegas might shy away from so not to restrict the teams payroll structure under the salary cap. Unless there's a deal in place, that's incredibly unlikely.
McPhee may not be Don Corleone, but he is the actual godfather of Matt Moulson's wife, and the Buffalo Sabres are unable to protect Moulson from the Golden Knights grasp if they choose to go that direction. Either way, they're guarantee to welcome a quality player to the desert.
Some reports have trickled out, and there have been musings from well-connected media members that Vegas may already have as many as three first-round picks in it's back pocket.
Now, if the team decides to get Fleury, who is a three-time Stanley Cup champion, they can use his knowledge and skill to teach the young goal keepers in their roster. He has played for 10 teams.
The new franchise has the next 72 hours to select its expansion draft choices.
Still, as Saturday's trade freeze approached, one expected National Hockey League teams would do make a lot of moves to protect as many valuable assets as possible.
For the Stars, the protection list has it's obvious inclusions.
Goalie James Reimer was also protected. Their decision hasn't been finalized, but it could come down to which players fit better into the chemistry of the team. Team owners fired the GM Dean Lombardi and head coach Darryl Sutter, and elevated Rob Blake and John Stevens to their respected positions. No surprises there; those are the 11 players that made the most sense to shield, and the list was confirmed late Saturday by The Washington Post. "There's lots of chatter, but there's lots of teams in the bucket of not being able to do anything without impacting what their list is". But, their luck might be moving in the right direction this offseason. Lastly, the Flyers protected goaltender Anthony Stolarz.