NHL teams release lists of unprotected players for Vegas draft – STLtoday.com

Three-time Stanley Cup champion goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, Nashville forward James Neal and Anaheim defenseman Sami Vatanen were among the high-profile players made available Sunday for the Vegas Golden Knights to select in the NHL expansion draft. Now it’s on Golden Knights general manager George McPhee to pore over the list and select one from each of the NHL’s 30 teams by Wednesday.

Fleury was left unprotected by Pittsburgh after he agreed to waive the no-movement clause in his contract. The Penguins instead protected Matt Murray a week after the second-year goalie led them to their second consecutive championship.

The Predators were put in a bind by exposing Neal, a 10-time 20-goal-scorer, because they elected to protect a fourth defenseman. Vatanen was the odd-man out in being left unprotected from a deep and talented group of Ducks defensemen. The fifth-year player, however, won’t be ready for the start of the season after having surgery to repair a shoulder injury.

Neal wasn’t the only high-profile player left exposed by the Predators, who are coming off their first Stanley Cup Finals appearance. Other notable Nashville players were forwards Pontus Aberg and Colton Sissons. Other notable forwards on the list were Minnesota center Eric Staal, a nine-time 20-goal-scorer, Los Angeles forward Dustin Brown and Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec. As for defensemen, Buffalo’s Zach Bogosian and Dallas’ Dan Hamhuis are available.

There’s also a wealth of proven goaltenders available given that teams were required to expose at least one. Aside from Fleury, other goalies exposed are Florida’s Roberto Luongo, Detroit’s Peter Mrazek and Philadelphia’s Michal Neuvirth.

The list includes players eligible to become restricted or unrestricted free agents, which the Golden Knights have the option to sign in the next three days. Any pending free agent signed would count as a selection from that player’s team.

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