NHL Expansion Draft: Who The Central Left Unprotected

With the protected lists released on Sunday, we now know who is available for the Vegas Golden Knights to select later this week.

Let’s look at some of the intriguing players available for Vegas around the Central Division.

We’ll start with the Western Conference champion Nashville Predators.

  • James Neal, forward

Neal turns 30 in early September and is coming off a 23-goal season. He has a cap hit of $5M for one more season.

  • Colton Sissons, forward

Sissons, 23, won 50 percent of his faceoffs and posted 10 points in 58 regular season games. He added 12 points in the postseason. Sissons has a $625k cap hit for two more years.

  • Colin Wilson, forward

Wilson, 27, scored 20 goals a couple years ago. He had 12 goals and 23 assists in 70 regular season games this year. He has a $3,937,500 cap hit for two more years.

  • Craig Smith, forward

Both Wilson and Smith averaged better than 60 seconds per game on the power play for Nashville last year. Smith, 26, had 29 points in 78 games for the Preds and has three years left on his contract with a $4.25M cap hit.

  • Yannick Weber, defenseman

Weber, 27, had 72 hits and 53 blocked shots in 73 regular season games. He has one year left on his deal with a $650k cap hit.

  • David Perron, forward

Perron, 29, had 18 goals and 28 assists in 82 regular season games for the Blues last year. He has one year left on his contract with a $3.75M cap hit.

  • Jori Lehtera, forward

Lehtera, 29, has two years left on his contract with a $4.7M cap hit. He was limited to 64 games last year and posted 22 points.

  • Kyle Brodziak, forward

Brodziak, 33, had 15 points in 69 games last year.  He has one year left on his deal with a $950k cap hit.

  • Nail Yakupov, forward

The former number one overall pick had only nine points in 40 regular season games. The 22-year-old was dumped by the Oilers and fell out of favor in St. Louis. He is currently a restricted free agent.

  • Carl Gunnarson, defenseman

Gunnarson had six assists in 56 regular season games. The 29-year-old has two years left on his deal with a $2.9M cap hit.

  • Carter Hutton, goaltender

Hutton, 30, appeared in 29 regular season games and posted four shutouts. He had a 2.39 goals against average and .913 save percentage. Hutton has one year left on his contract with a $1.125M cap hit.

  • Eric Staal, forward

Staal, 31, had 65 points in 82 regular season games and was a great addition to the Wild as a free agent last summer. He has two years left on his contract with a $3.25M cap hit.

  • Erik Haula, forward

Haula, 25, had 15 goals and 11 assists in 72 regular season games for Minnesota. He is currently a restricted free agent.

  • Martin Hanzal, forward

Minnesota gave up a first round pick in 2017, a second round pick in 2018 and a fourth round pick in 2019 with prospect Grayson Downing to get Hanzal at the deadline. He finished the regular season with 20 goals and 19 assists in 71 games between Arizona and Minnesota. The 30-year-old is an unrestricted free agent.

  • Matt Dumba, defenseman
  • Marco Scandella, defenseman
  • Christian Folin, defenseman
  • Nate Prosser, defenseman

Dumba (20:19) and Scandella (18:20) were two of the core defensemen for the Wild last season. Scandella has three years left on his contract with a $4M cap hit. Dumba has one remaining season with a $2.55M cap hit. Prosser is an unrestricted free agent and Folin is restricted this summer.

  • Marko Dano, forward

The former Blackhawks prospect has already been part of two high-profile trades and he’s still only 22 years old. He had 11 points in 38 games with the Jets last year and has one season left on his contract with a $850k cap hit.

  • Toby Enstrom, defenseman

Enstrom, 31, waived his no-move clause to be eligible for the expansion draft. He has one year remaining on his contract with a $5.75M cap hit after averaging 21:54 per game for the Jets last year.

  • Ondrej Pavalec, goaltender
  • Michael Hutchinson, goaltender

Between the pipes has been an issue for the Jets since they came back into the league. Hutchinson, 27, has one year left on his deal with a $1.125M cap hit; Pavalec, 29, is an unrestricted free agent.

  • Cody Eakin, forward

Eakin, 26, had 12 points in 60 games for Dallas last year. He has three years left on his contract with a $3.85M cap hit.

  • Jiri Hudler, forward

Hudler, an unrestricted free agent at 32, signed a one-year deal in Dallas before last season. He had 11 points in 32 games with the Stars last season.

  • Patrick Sharp, forward

Sharp’s season ended injured and he’s an unrestricted free agent.

  • Dan Hamuis, defenseman

The veteran defenseman averaged 19:21 on the ice for Dallas last season. He is entering the final season of a contract with a $3.75M cap hit.

  • Kari Lehtonen, goaltender
  • Antti Niemi, goaltender

Anybody want a Stars goaltender? Because after trading for Ben Bishop, Dallas can’t get rid of either of these guys fast enough. They’re both in the final year of expensive contracts and will be nearly impossible for Dallas to dump.

  • Mikhail Grigorenko, forward

Grigorenko, the 12th overall pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, had 23 points in 75 games last year. The 23-year-old is a restricted free agent. Grigorenko was a big part of the package that came back to Colorado in the deal that sent Ryan O’Reilly to Buffalo.

  • Carl Soderberg, forward

Soderberg, 31, had 51 points for the Avs in 2015-16 after he was acquired from Boston. But he fell off dramatically last year, posting only 14 points in 80 games. He has three years left on his contract with a $4.75M cap hit.

  • Calvin Pickard, goaltender

Pickard, 25, led Avs goalies with 50 appearances last season. He had a 2.98 goals against average, though, and a .904 save percentage. Pickard has one year left on his deal with a $1M cap hit.

46 thoughts on “NHL Expansion Draft: Who The Central Left Unprotected

  • June 19, 2017 at 6:32 am

    Sissons and Packard would look good coming in a draft to trade deal.

  • June 19, 2017 at 6:41 am

    Then do a Panarin for Sam Reinhart deal and sign a Girardi to help on the blueline.

  • June 19, 2017 at 7:17 am

    Looking at the lists for other Central Division teams, along with others around the League, one can’t help but notice the number of “middle tier” players many teams are forced to leave exposed compared to the Blackhawks. The big bucks we pay to a very few, combined with the frequency of NMCs, really does make our line-up unlike those of most other teams. The starkness of that difference had not struck me before. Consecutive first round play-off exits suggest Stan and team may not have discovered a new path to the holy grail.

  • June 19, 2017 at 7:32 am

    Some of the projections I’ve seen have Neal, Dano and TvR being on the Knights’ roster next season via the draft. Looks like some of the other talked about transactions might be pretty complicated, based on what I’ve heard discussed on NHL network. Looking forward to seeing how it all goes down.

  • June 19, 2017 at 8:57 am

    Big Indian alot of it is going to come down to how competitive LV wants to be next season or how much they want to use the expansion draft towards building down the road a few years. If the they go all in choose the future it could be an interesting week.

  • June 19, 2017 at 9:12 am

    It is difficult to be too hard on SB YET. He put together a 50 win team last season. That is nothing to sneeze at. And they won those 50 in just 78 games (lost the last 4). So what happened? Tired, disinterested, new players did not gel, team to slow, not physical enough etc. ??? Maybe all of the above. BUT is that SB’s fault? Those 50 wins can against teams that are fast, physical and needing every win to make the playoffs.

    The Hawks won 50 games because top 10 team in this league. So….I will give SB the benefit of the doubt for another season.

  • June 19, 2017 at 9:48 am

    I don’t put much stock in the 50 win season. We were lucky, given our statistical underperformance in just about every major category. Face-off percentage, possession numbers, penalty kill, power play – we sucked at all of them and still ended up with 50 wins. Can probably credit Crow and Darling for supplying a bit of balance. But I think any honest observer knows the 50 wins last year was not a true indication of what that team was capable of. And we found out the truth soon enough when Nashville pissed on our season and flushed us away. That said, I still believe there is hope, but the window is closing and the boys need to step up before it slams shut. I would say SB needs to step up, too, but not sure what if anything he can do. Maybe just hand out more ridiculous contracts and then make more bad trades to cover that damage? We are in this financial hole and roster unease because of bad cap management, plain and simple, and said window is closing on our future faster and faster because of it. Will the draft change some things???

  • June 19, 2017 at 10:30 am

    Suasion, Packard and Daniel for TVR and Kruger work for anyone

  • June 19, 2017 at 10:30 am

    Try Dano

  • June 19, 2017 at 10:41 am

    Tony– Excellent post… agree with ALL of it!!!

    I will add to Crow/Darls leading the 50 win season… despite most stats saying otherwise… the Hawks Won because of “Core” IQ… they know how to win… but were forced to play boring hockey for most part- cuz don’t have the Dominant skill/speed/depth of past… Eye test told me the Hawks weren’t that good!!!

    I like Sissons and Haula… Haula- probably tougher to add- cuz RFA status

  • June 19, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    If Im McPhee, out of this list I’m taking James Neal, Jori Lehtera, Dumba, Marko Dano, Dan Hamuis, Mikhail Grigorenko or Maybe Pickard. Guys with stupid contracts like Soderberg and Kruger arent that appealing IMO.

  • June 19, 2017 at 12:08 pm

    @ TONY nicely said, you get it

  • June 19, 2017 at 12:17 pm

    I know Bowman has made mistakes ( mainly all the nmc contracts) but 50 wins is no fluke. We did get good goaltending but it was Bowmans group that found Darling and were able to keep him at low cost. Under the NHL hard cap the downturn of a good franchise is inevitable. Hope we can make some good moves this week. Go Hawks!!

  • June 19, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    Our Statistical Under Performance
    Conf / League

    Points ROW GF GA Diff Points
    1st / 3d 1st / 3d 4th /8th 6th /10th 3d / 7th 109 out of 164 .665

    So, the stats that were so under performing placed the Hawks as a top 10 in all these categories. AND, that is with giving rookies as much play time as just about anyone. Yes, they laid a shit bomb at the hands of Nashville. I do not blame Bowman for this…..as an honest observer, how could you? If the Hawks can match these stats again, I will take my chances against Nashville again.

    My biggest gripe with SB is too much movement at Deadline. But, some can never give credit where it is due.

  • June 19, 2017 at 2:57 pm

    @Mike R – I take your points, but I would argue that those are not the stats I was talking about, the stats that I think matter and are true indicators of a team’s play. Total points, regulation vs OT wins, goals for-goals against, differential – all are important numbers, but all are deceiving at the same time, and that was my point. We had a season of 50 wins, one of the best in the history of the franchise, and yet we did not have the team power that those numbers imply. We had no depth because of our cap woes and the players that carried us early, mostly Kane, Panarin and Anisimov, were unable to make us a one line team powerhouse. Our possession numbers – the real indicator for the Hawk’s success in years past – were abysmal.
    And I don’t blame SB for the on ice play during Nashville drubbing, but I do contend that it was his terrible management that made the team vulnerable to that kind of outcome.
    Again, all GMs make good moves and bad, and a good GM, IMO, is one who has more of the former. Stan does indeed have more of the former, but he is trending in the wrong direction these past two years, something he needs to be called on.

  • June 19, 2017 at 3:07 pm

    And I feel I should add that our young guys, especially Hartman, made contributions that kept the team afloat. That’s the future we need to nourish.

  • June 19, 2017 at 3:35 pm

    Tony go back and look the rookie forwards performed well all year and outside of Toronto had the best numbers of any group of rookies and actually carried the star players who freely admitted as much early on till they got it going. The naysayers here complained mostly about Toews and Seabrook and Hossa too old then he put that to rest and Panik was a 4th liner who couldn’t play the cycle game and his goals at 1st were all flukes. Our rookie defensemen didn’t perform as well as hoped maybe but that was all. The 4 playoff games were a disasater but that is just something to atone for. Of course one naysayer couldn’t see that Crawford played a good game in years.

  • June 19, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    What does this all mean? Nothing, until BOWMAN does not fire himself, we will suffer with lack of talent and vision.

  • June 19, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    We really have suffered haven’t we.

  • June 19, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    Ian, I’m with you. Totally agree. That’s one thing about the year that really had me excited, seeing Hartman and Hino mostly, though Kero and Motte at times, too, stepping up and bringing much needed speed and enthusiasm to our team game. And I think Hayden has a bright future – looking forward to seeing him play a full year. And you’re right, the young guys on D were not as strong, but it is harder to be an impact D-man in this league your first couple of years out, with a few notable exceptions league wide. Let’s hope Kempny and perhaps Rutta can help, and I’ve always liked Gustafsson, and am hoping he can get a second chance.

  • June 19, 2017 at 5:22 pm


    Totally agree about seeing Gus get a second chance. I thought he had a very strong first showing in 15/16. So much so that the only reason I could figure the organization kept him in Rockford all year was to keep his cost down this offseason. I think he has a bright future.

  • June 19, 2017 at 5:29 pm

    I wonder, given our depth of prospect forwards that aim to play in the bottom six who won’t end up making it:

    Hayden, Motte, Hino, Hartman, Kero, Jurco, Fortin, Noel, Johnson, Iaciopelli

    Going to be still competition to crack the bottom of the lineup going forward. My biggest doubt lies with Motte. I know he is one of the more ‘hyped’ guys but in the time that I saw him up this past season I wasn’t terribly impressed by his foot speed. Goes without saying about half of the guys I listed need to play in Rockford for some time.

  • June 19, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    Additional oversight on my part: when talking about our youth, cannot forget Nick Schmaltz. Hope he’s getting stronger this off season!

  • June 19, 2017 at 7:22 pm


    Lehtera- 22 points in 64 games 4.7 m hit
    Hamhuis-16 points in 79 games 3.75m hit
    Grigorenko-23 points 75 games rfa
    Neal-41 points in 70 games 5m hit
    Kruger- 17 points in 70 games 3.083 hit

    I would take Neal…on the premise that hes trade bait since he has 1 year left. When Kruger comes with TVR and probably a prospect it becomes evident why Vegas would take him. Lehtera and Hamhuis do nothing for me. Not saying they dont take them. TVR is almost 10 years younger and does the same thing Hamhuis does.

  • June 19, 2017 at 7:55 pm

    I think the addition of Samuelsson will make a huge difference with the young european dmen and the young forwards with Granato there will really show their potential. These additions show their committment to youth.

  • June 19, 2017 at 10:30 pm

    @Ian – good point. Didn’t think of that when I first heard it, but it makes total sense, in terms of where the NHL is today, and in terms of what we need to do to stay relevant. It’s not like the emphasis on youth is a surprise; it’s been the mantra of all major sports for like, uh, you know, forever. If Samuelsson aids and abbets that, I say go!

  • June 19, 2017 at 10:39 pm

    It is getting awfully tiring to keep hearing how bad SB is and all the mistakes and cap mismanagement that have happened on his watch. A watch that includes 3 cups! (But those are due to Dale Tallon – right?) Any successful team is going to have cap challenges which means you have to be creative which carries high risk. Seabrook’s contract is a head scratcher but there aren’t too many others. Don’t bring up Bickell – who new he was dealing with a worsening medical condition? It didn’t work out this year and it may never work out again due to an aging core but please tell me who all these other brilliant GM’s you prefer to bring in? Wall, wasn’t it just a year or two ago that every fading team was Pens 2.0? Now I suppose they are pure geniuses. I expect we will see some moves to shake things up this weekend but it ain’t going to be easy. I’ll continue to take my chances with SB.

  • June 19, 2017 at 10:51 pm

    Or it tells that Bowman and crew new expansion draft was happening yrs before now and went core cap hit and elc heavy knowing it was a good time to not have good mid tier players you cant keep/give aways. Now when our young guys are better and are mid tier players we can keep them without expansion stealaways.

  • June 19, 2017 at 10:57 pm

    I like Hayden.

  • June 20, 2017 at 7:09 am

    QUESTION: How does a team like the PENS in a CAP SALARY ERA still draft DUMOULIN, POULIOT, MURRAY, SHEARY, etc…. and still be responisble with the CAP ? And have the best 2 players in the league CROSBY and MALKIN, a top 5 dman in LETANG, 2 of the top 5 goalies in the league?

    ANSWER: Great GM’s, great coaching in AHL, great SCOUTS!!!

    We have GM BOWMAN , KELLEY, and worse pro scout in NHL, GAUTHIER.

    HOPEFULLY, this trend ends soon….

  • June 20, 2017 at 9:09 am

    MS– Re: Pens2.0– Huge difference… Crosby and Malkin/Pens had several years (to recover from those Bloated contracts and grow/find quality CHEAP depth… while the Cap slowly grew and gave Pens breathing room)… during those several years… Pens were “the easy out in PO runs… BIG DIFFERENCE… after several years… 87/Malkin were still in their PRIMES… so still great players

    Blackhawks- add seven years to 88/19 and the 2015 Cup… so now we are in year 2022… and 19 and 88 are how old??? 32 yrs old??? PAST THEIR PRIMES!!!!

    Pens- Yes- they have done a great job (coach) and Found/Uncovered some great cheap assets — Guentzel kid Is like Hawks finding Saad!!! who could have predicted Guentzel setting record scoring #’s for Rookies???

    Hawks Pulled Saad/Shaw out of thin air– to be that good at that age

    SB should have found way to keep Saad and dump Crow’s deal… Raanta/Darling duo– would they have won Cup??? I don’t know… But if Saad is still on team… I like chances of beating Blues last year and winning a friggin Game versus Preds better… Niemi won a friggin Cup for crying out loud!!!

  • June 20, 2017 at 9:13 am

    Saad wasn’t pulled out of thin air. He was a top-15 mid term prospect who fell into their lap.

  • June 20, 2017 at 10:00 am

    Tab- there are plenty of top 15 guys that are Never NHL guys, furthermore, to step right in w/ little to no AHL seasoning… is another thing… and be a factor not just a guy…

    point is – call it luck or call it Great scouting… Hawks need 2 more of these “Guys/prospects” to show up this year… OR SB- needs to make some big move (and I am not talking Kruger/TVR… and picking up some 3rd line Center to replace 16 on PK and score 9 goals) to be the BIG move.

  • June 20, 2017 at 10:00 am

    @ ERNIE I dont really like Lehtere and actually I confused him with Sobetka truth be told. Hamhuis is really just a 4 anyways. When I did the Knights draft on Cap friendly I just looked at age, contract and which teams had which positions available. Grigorenko for example was a guy that’s an RFA where as Shattenkirk was a UFA meaning the Knights could draft him and he could sign elsewhere.

    It’s fun if you are a hockey nerd like me.

  • June 20, 2017 at 10:16 am

    Wall – there’s a HUGE difference between “call it luck or call it great scouting” – it’s one or the other. Saad was a good prospect they developed – but it wasn’t Panarin-level instant. He was a third line player on the 2013 Cup team.

    But again, history can be confusing when it doesn’t serve a narrative…

    re: picking up a center to replace Kruger – his name is Tanner Kero. He replaced him on PK for a big part of last year and has more offensive upside.

  • June 20, 2017 at 11:24 am

    I know that I am in the minority, but my belief is still that the Hawks were beat by the Preds NOT because of some older players who had lost a step, but because our young players weren’t able to get the job done.

    Hopefully this year our young kids have a little more experience and we can find a player that can make a difference and ad some size and scoring. Hopefully.

    I know everyone is going to say that Seabs is beat up and old and Toews is a shell of himself and Kane doesn’t play the body, but these guys should not be asked to carry this team game after game, season after season. Somewhere the young players need to step up and contribute.

    I still believe in this group. They need a little help from the youngsters.

    I may be old and crazy but we need some YOUTHFUL help.

    Old and Crazy Reg.

  • June 20, 2017 at 11:51 am

    Tab- Big Yawn- on Kero

    “history can be confusing…” I think it is you who is confused… “Saad was good prospect they developed???” so now 31 games in the AHL= “Developed”??? Oh and by the way… 20 probably doesn’t get those 20 games in AHL to “DEVELOP”- if there is no Lockout….

    Regarding “not Panarin Level instant success ..” Yes Saad- played lesser role… On a team that actually won 2 cups… at a much younger age!!! But in your eyes Panarin “More successful???” cuz he scored more on lesser teams that couldn’t get out of 1st round…. and has won nothing and is older.

    Tab- Detroit drafting Datsyuk… great luck or great scouting??? Maybe a little of both

  • June 20, 2017 at 1:25 pm

    Wall – you do make me laugh… thanks for the continued chuckles.

    re: Detroit drafting Datsyuk – if you pull ONE stud out of a later round, we can claim a blind squirrel finding a nut. But…

    1994 – Tomas Holmstrom #257 overall
    1998 – Pavel Datsyuk #171 overall
    1999 – Henrik Zetterberg #210 overall
    2002 – Jonathan Ericsson #291 overall
    2005 – Darren Helm #132 overall

    Indeed, one can point to the Wings’ recent lack of success finding quality contributors in later rounds as a reason they’re struggling now. It’s been 4 drafts (and counting) since they uncovered a winner in the 4th round or later (2012 – Andreas Athanasiou).

    re: Saad – his development wasn’t exclusively in the AHL, and if you think teams can only develop prospects in the A I have a Toronto media guide to sell you.

  • June 20, 2017 at 1:30 pm

    Tab- so the Hawks are responsible for developing Saad — in CHL???

    You make me laugh

    And Panarin is more successful than Saad… please explain… and had more immediate success… that’s another good one


  • June 20, 2017 at 2:41 pm

    “please explain Panarin more immediately successful than Saad”

    for Wall’s benefit because remembering 4 years ago is so hard.

    Saad – 2012-13 – 46 games, 10 goals, 17 assists, 27 points
    Panarin – 2015-16 – 80 games, 30 goals, 47 assists, 77 points

    Also, since we love to not remember: Saad averaged 16:23 in the 2013 playoffs – 20 seconds per game more than Michal Handzus. In those 23 postseason games his rookie year, Saad scored one goal with five assists and was minus-1. In Panarin’s first postseason he had seven points in seven playoff games.

  • June 20, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    Saad– WON a cup … Panarin scored and lost!!! yippee!!!!

    Saad’s game doesn’t/change come PO time… Why didn’t I see Panarin stick handle thru 3-4 guys each game in PO’s … like he does in Regular season???

    Saad played on much better team- and lower lines NOT Kane and AA every nite

    Saad was 21 years old… for a better Stat/Age comparison… let’s look at 2015 PO’s and compare a still younger Saad to the older panarin

    You still didn’t explain how the Hawks “Developed Saad”??? At least you didn’t say the Hawks Developed 72

  • June 20, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    Toews -5 , Hossa -4 Panarin -4 Kane -3 Keith -6 Hammer -4 Oduya -4 or -5 and only 3 goals in 4 games seems like more than the young guys didn’t get it done. Darling and Raantta would they have won a cup Wall how about they answer the 1st question can they be a no.1 goalie in this before asking that. I wish them well but they haven’t proven that much yet.

  • June 20, 2017 at 5:15 pm

    I wonder how many names Totti is going to call himself. If you think you’re fooling anyone, think again. We all know you’re Alfonso, aka Fonsie.

  • June 20, 2017 at 6:40 pm

    Ian, is Darling and or Raanta better then Niemi?

    last I checked Niemi still has a cup

  • June 20, 2017 at 6:41 pm

    He says 50 win seasons are just luck…?

  • June 20, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    You’re right Wall they deserve early entrance to the HOF.

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