The NHL released the list of players protected from the 2017 Expansion Draft on Sunday morning.
Here are seven of the most intriguing players that the league’s newest team, the Vegas Golden Knights, could select. Vegas’ choices will be revealed June 21.
James Neal, Nashville Predators, Left Wing
From the lot of forwards who are available to the Golden Knights, one could easily say that Neal has been the most consistently productive. With one of the best wrist shots in the league, Neal has been extremely effective in 10 NHL seasons.
He also would add some experience to a roster that might be young. Neal has played in 80 career postseason games.
Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks, Center
Thornton is in a very similar situation to Neal and would add even more veteran experience at 37 years old.
“Jumbo Joe” is one of the best passers ever, tallying a remarkable 1,007 assists in his career, as well as boasting three Hart Trophy awards as the NHL’s most valuable player.
Regardless of his still-impressive talent, the real question with Thornton is whether a team looking to build long term will want someone in the final stage of his career.
Jonathan Marchessault, Florida Panthers, Center
The 26-year-old center recorded 51 points in 73 games this season, which was good enough for third-most on the Panthers.
While one could argue that Marchessault is unproven, one also could say that he was one of the best players on a very young, competitive Panthers team at the end of 2016. Also, he would be very high in value, as he’s a little cheaper than the first two on this list.
Bobby Ryan, Ottawa Senators, Right Wing
Bobby Ryan has been a pretty consistent scorer in his 10 NHL seasons despite a slight decline in production this last regular season in Ottawa. Ryan had an outstanding 2017 playoff run, though, recording 15 points in 19 games.
To this day, Ryan has some of the slickest hands in the league, and he proved at the end of the season that he still has what it takes to be productive.
Calvin De Haan, New York Islanders, Defenseman
De Haan, 26, can eat up a decent amount of minutes (19:51 on average this season), and he can provide a little offensive upside as well.
While De Haan likely won’t stand out on the stat sheet in a crazy way, the market for young, responsible defensemen is slim, and the Golden Knights would be remiss to pass up on him.
Matt Dumba, Minnesota Wild, Defenseman
Dumba, 22, is a little younger than De Haan, and he was able to put up 34 points in 76 games this season.
The former No. 7 overall draft pick also would add a little snarl to the roster. He’s not known to back down from some aggression despite his 6-foot stature.
Marc Andre-Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins, Goaltender
Not only does Fleury have three Stanley Cup rings. He’s also still showing signs of being a phenomenal goalie at age 32.
With a solid .912 save percentage and 375 career wins, Fleury would give the Golden Knights a solid No. 1 netminder for the foreseeable future.
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