Things are starting to get interesting for the Vegas Golden Knights.
Teams made last-minute moves Saturday to solidify who they will and will not protect from the Golden Knights. One team that surprisingly didn’t was the Minnesota Wild, keeping quiet until the 3 p.m. ET roster freeze.
Minnesota is likely going to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie in the expansion draft. Forwards Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Jason Pominville all have no-move clauses. Mikael Granlund, Eric Staal and Nino Niederreiter need to be accounted for, as well.
Unlikely to go the alternative route (eight slots for any combination of skaters), that gives Minnesota just three slots to protect their deep defensive core. Ryan Suter has a no-move clause, leaving only two slots for Jared Spurgeon (likely to be protected), Marco Scandella, Matt Dumba and Jonas Brodin.
This could work out really well for the Golden Knights.
Brodin, a possible expansion candidate, is an enticing option for Vegas. Just 23 years old, Brodin scored three goals and 25 points in 68 games last season. Selected in the first round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft, he has developed into a reliable two-way defenseman and a cornerstone of the Wild’s sturdy backend. Dumba is also interesting, though it wouldn’t be surprising if he ends up on Minnesota’s protected list. The 6-foot, 183-pound blueliner, who turns 23 in July, scored 11 goals and 34 points last season.
It’s also possible that the Wild could make a deal with the Golden Knights to prevent this. Vegas made a similar deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets, per report, assuring Columbus that Jack Johnson, Josh Anderson or goalie Joonas Korpisalo would be safe in exchange for a first-round draft pick.
As noted by TSN’s Frank Seravalli, a deal between Minnesota and Vegas could result in the Golden Knights taking Jason Zucker, who is a native of Las Vegas, in the expansion draft.
All 30 teams submitted their list of protected players at 5 p.m. ET Saturday. The NHL will release each team’s list of protected players to the public Sunday at 10 a.m. ET.