Panthers forward Jonathan Marchessault could be left unprotected in expansion draft, per report

The Golden Knights have the potential to ice a young 30-goal scorer due to protection concerns.

The Florida Panthers may be leaving 30-goal scorer Jonathan Marchessault off their protected list with the expansion draft looming, according to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman.

Given that the 26-year-old scorer is easily one of their top seven forwards, it stands to reason that Florida may opt to protect four forwards and defensemen before Wednesday’s draft, which could leave offensive contributors like Marchessault or Reilly Smith up for grabs.

However, the Panthers may still decide to follow the 7-3 protection format and merely trade Marchessault in an effort to capitalize on his present value, likely seeking prospects or picks in return.

Regardless, whichever team walks away with Marchessault will be getting a player in his mid-20s with solid possession numbers and a goal-scoring touch, who also happens to be carrying just a $750,000 cap hit for the 2017-18 season.

While Marchessault is likely to regress a bit, he remains one of the league’s best bang-for-your-buck players and a strong candidate for 40-plus points with the ability to play center or the wing.

The roster freeze went into effect at 3 p.m. ET with no word on Marchessault being moved, so barring any drastic changes, this could be a major get for the Golden Knights.