The NHL was running a little late this morning (naturally) so instead of releasing each team’s protected list at 10AM EST, they instead released them at 10:30AM EST. Fans have been speculating for about a year now, ever since the league announced an expansion team last June, about who their favorite teams would protect and who they could potentially lose.
I was also running a little late this morning so I apologize for this blog post being an hour and a half late.
The New Jersey Devils decided to protect:
Goaltender Cory Schneider
Forward Taylor Hall
Forward Adam Henrique
Forward Kyle Palmieri
Forward Travis Zajac
Defenseman Andy Greene
Defenseman Damon Severson
Defenseman John Moore
Defenseman Mirco Mueller
No surprises here. The Devils might have gone 7-3-1 had it not been for the trade they made with San Jose yesterday; there’s more on that here.
The goaltender is obvious, the forwards are obvious, not so much the defensemen. Greene and Severson are no-brainers. The Devils traded for Mueller yesterday so they would also have to protect him, either because he’s a part of the future or he’s being used as trade bait. The decision ultimately came down to Moore or Merrill. Moore’s probably slightly more valuable in terms of offensive production even though Merrill’s younger. Moore’s defensive game isn’t as strong but upper management probably decided that the second half of Merrill’s season wasn’t a great indicator of his future success. Either way, the Golden Knights probably won’t take a look at him
This list means that the Devils have exposed Michael Cammalleri, Jacob Josefson, Devante Smith-Pelly, Beau Bennett, Stefan Noesen, Ben Lovejoy, Dalton Prout, and Keith Kinkaid. I don’t think Kinkaid gets picked either, mainly because Vegas has a ton of other options to choose from.
Keep in mind that Vegas has to select 14 forwards, nine defensemen, three goaltenders, and four players of any position. They can negotiate with any exposed free agents and if the free agent chooses to sign with Vegas, they count towards their most recent team’s selection. For example, hypothetically, if Vegas selects Kinkaid (he’s an unrestricted free agent), they can’t pick anyone else from the Devils.
Later today, I’ll post a master list of all of the protected players, all 316 of them, from every team and have more expansion draft coverage throughout the week, including a post on what the Vegas Golden Knights could possibly look like.
The Golden Knights have from now until Wednesday to deliberate who they’re going to pick and their selections will be announced during the NHL Awards ceremony.