After weeks of speculation about who the Minnesota Wild would protect from the Vegas Golden Knights at the upcoming NHL Expansion Draft, fans of the team can finally review general manager Chuck Fletcher’s work. Longtime Wild beat writer Michael Russo reported the team’s protection list early this morning and it contains some surprising names:
Forwards: Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Jason Pominville, Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker.
Defensemen: Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin.
Goaltender: Devan Dubnyk.
What this means is that forwards Eric Staal, Erik Haula, Chris Stewart, Martin Hanzal, Ryan White, Jordan Schroeder, Kurtis Gabriel, Pat Cannone, Zack Mitchell, Brady Brassart and Ryan Carter will be left exposed. Ditto for defensemen Matt Dumba, Marco Scandella, Gustav Olofsson, Christian Folin, Nate Prosser, Mike Weber, Victor Bartley, Alex Gudbranson and goaltenders Alex Stalock and Darcy Kuemper.
Vegas general manager George McPhee must be licking his chops at the prospect of acquiring either Staal, a former 40 goal scorer and nearly a 30 goal scorer just a season ago, or Matt Dumba, a 22 year-old blue liner who put up 34 points in 2016-17. While it’s surprising that Fletcher would leave these players exposed, he left himself little choice by failing to move an assets ahead of the NHL’s trade freeze.
So, who will Wild fans wave goodbye to next week? Staal? Dumba?