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The Saturday trade freeze came and went without the Wild making a move.

The Wild can now only continue its long-standing trade talks with expansion Vegas until Thursday’s moratorium is lifted.

The Wild and all NHL teams also simultaneously submitted their protected and exposed lists Saturday. After approving, the NHL’s Central Registry will distribute the protection lists to all NHL clubs, including Vegas, at 9 a.m. Sunday.

It’s believed the Wild, as of late Saturday, had no prearranged trades made with the Golden Knights. That likely handicapped the Wild’s ability to trade one of its defensemen to another team before the freeze. As GM Chuck Fletcher indicated earlier in the week, he didn’t want to trade one of his defensemen and still potentially lose one in expansion.

When each team’s lists are made public Sunday, it’s believed the Wild, after protecting Ryan Suter and Jared Spurgeon, will have exposed two from among Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba and Marco Scandella. It’s believed the Wild was leaning toward protecting Brodin as the third defenseman.

Up front, with Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Jason Pominville having to be protected because of no-move clauses, the Wild could only protect four from among Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker and Eric Staal. It’s believed the Wild was leaning toward protecting the younger assets, meaning Staal, its leading goal scorer last season, would be exposed.

On Sunday, Golden Knights GM George McPhee will be the most popular man in the sport.

Teams will not only continue trade talks in an attempt to steer McPhee away from certain exposed players, but several, including the Wild, might try to persuade him to acquire an exposed player and flip him in a subsequent trade. It’s very clear it’ll take a costly sum if Fletcher wants to keep McPhee’s hands off a specific defenseman or forward. The Golden Knights released a statement Saturday saying McPhee is “willing to negotiate deals so the other clubs do not lose a player they would otherwise like to keep.”

The Golden Knights will announce their initial roster and any trades made throughout the NHL Awards Show starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday.

Leading into Saturday, the Wild had received interest in several players the past few weeks, especially Brodin and, interestingly, Scandella. The Wild was in on trade talks with Tampa Bay on Jonathan Drouin and Montreal with Alex Galchenyuk. Sources said the Canadiens especially wanted Scandella in a package.

It’s very likely that’s a deal that Fletcher could not make happen unless he could ensure Vegas would not take the exposed player, likely Dumba.

Assistant search

The Wild’s search for an assistant coach to replace Hall of Famer Scott Stevens is starting to heat up.

Coach Bruce Boudreau said he has sat down with two candidates and talked to others by phone. His hope is to have a person hired by next weekend’s draft so the two can meet for a few days in Chicago, but he said that’s not essential. What is essential, he said, is having a hire by the July 7-13 development camp.

Sportsnet’s John Shannon reported that recently fired Chicago Blackhawks assistant Mike Kitchen turned down the Wild’s open spot.

Bob Woods is the likely front-runner. Woods, an assistant coach with the Buffalo Sabres, is free to talk to other teams. Woods not only played for Boudreau, but he coached with him in Hershey, Washington and Anaheim.

Other candidates might include Todd Nelson, who coached Grand Rapids to a Calder Cup, Dane Jackson, Ryan McGill and Dean Chynoweth. Boudreau said he wants to hire a former defenseman with NHL experience and that there are a couple of “interesting candidates” out there, some fresh off the ice.

Former NHL defenseman Bret Hedican, a Minnesotan, has talked with San Jose about an assistant coaching spot and might be of interest in Nashville. Boudreau indicated the Wild might elevate John Anderson to be his top assistant and have him call defensemen changes on the bench.