A friendly reminder, the Wild can only lose ONE player to the Vegas Golden Knights during Wednesday’s expansion announcement in Sin City.
The Wild’s protected and exposed list is now public, but it's what I predicted in today's paper here.
The Wild indeed went with the seven forward, three defensemen, one goal option as opposed to eight skaters and one goalie.
Up front, the Wild protected Zach Parise (no-move clause), Mikko Koivu (no-move clause), Jason Pominville (no-move clause), Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker.
On defense, the Wild protected Ryan Suter (no-move clause), Jared Spurgeon and Jonas Brodin.
In goal, the Wild protected Devan Dubnyk.
That means (full exposed list below) the key forwards exposed were Eric Staal and Erik Haula and the key defensemen exposed were Matt Dumba, Marco Scandella and Gustav Olofsson. GM Chuck Fletcher won’t comment if he asked any of his players with no-moves to waive so he could protect an extra forward(s) or defenseman.
Vegas has to choose one player from every team at 9 a.m. Wednesday. The Golden Knights’ expansion roster will be announced throughout the NHL Awards Show starting at 7 p.m. Wednesday by reverse order of the 2016-17 standings, sources say. That means the Wild, which finished with the fifth-most points in the NHL, plucked player will be announced 26th or toward the end of the show.
(A reminder, the Star Tribune is generously sending me to Vegas tomorrow to cover the NHL Awards Show (Koivu's up for the Selke, Granlund the Lady Byng) and Expansion and jersey unveiling, etc.
During the show, Vegas will also announce any trades it has made.
Fletcher will spend the next three days continuing talks with Vegas GM George McPhee, whether that’s to try to give him an asset or assets to sway him from taking an exposed player like Dumba or trying to send him an asset or assets to select an exposed player or even more from another team and trade him/them to the Wild. Like the rest of us, Vegas and the Wild just got all the lists.
As I have reported now for a few weeks, the Wild was indeed leaning toward protecting Zucker, the Vegas product that could have been enticing to the Golden Knights, over Staal based on age (Zucker’s 25, Staal’s 32), future, speed, scoring, asset value. However, even though I’d think Staal would be tempting for Vegas to make its first captain or for another team in need of a center to persuade Vegas to draft and flip, Fletcher has always said part of his exposure strategy may be leaving somebody unprotected he is fairly certain Vegas would not take.
I have got to think the Wild’s convinced there’s no way Vegas won’t take a top-four defenseman, whether that be Dumba, Scandella or even Olofsson.
I’m told by somebody close to Staal that this is what Fletcher explained to him Saturday, and Staal is confident he will remain with Minnesota.
As for Dumba, the right-shot offensive defenseman, it’s clear the Wild values the smooth-skating Brodin more or Dumba would be the one protected and Brodin exposed.
As of last night, I’m told by league sources the Wild did not yet have a prearranged side deal with Vegas to not take a player.
Maybe all the trade interest the Wild received recently for Brodin cemented to the Wild that he’s an asset that must be protected. Maybe the Wild feels it can work out a deal for Vegas to take another player beside Dumba. Or, maybe the Wild’s just resigned to the belief it’ll lose Dumba.
Bruce Boudreau did say to me the other that if Fletcher couldn’t get the right deal before the freeze, “maybe the best thing to do is just understand you’re going to lose a good player and be done with it.”
Of the exposed NHLers who conceivably could be taken (remember only one can):
Staal, who turns 33 Oct. 29, led the Wild with 28 goals and 211 shots last season. He set a career-high with a plus-17. His 65 points? Highest point total since 2011-12 and his goal total his highest since 2010-11. He hit the 1,000-game mark and was just a tremendous pro.
Dumba, who turns 23 July 25, set career-highs last season with 11 goals (team high for defensemen), 23 assists, 34 points, 59 penalty minutes and average ice time (20:19).
Scandella, 27, one of the longest-tenured Wild players (drafted in 2008 and debuted in 2010), is a two-way blue-liner who had 13 points in 71 games and had a second straight up and down season.
Haula, 26, scored a career-high with 15 goals, four game-winners, 134 shots and a .539 faceoff winning percentage.
I do believe Vegas scouts like Olofsson, too.
Of the two big protection decisions:
Zucker, 25, scored a career-high 22 goals, 25 assists, 47 points and 172 shots last season and tied with Suter for a league-lead plus-34 (tied for first in franchise history).
Brodin, the 10th pick in the 2011 draft, thrust onto the scene as a teenager after the 2012-13 lockout playing his off-side as Suter’s partner. As the youngest defenseman in the in the NHL at 19 years old, Brodin led all rookies in average ice time per game (23 minutes, 12 seconds), was named to the NHL’s All-Rookie team and finished fourth in Calder Trophy voting. His plus-21 in 2014-15 was the fourth-highest total in a single season by a Wild defenseman in history. Last season, Brodin set a career-high with 22 assists and 25 points, spent a lot of the season switching from left side to right and floating from second pair to third. He has been prone to injury, missing 39 games the past three seasons.
Here is the full protected and exposed list for the Wild:
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.
Forwards: Eric Staal, Erik Haula, Chris Stewart, Martin Hanzal, Ryan White, Jordan Schroeder, Kurtis Gabriel, Pat Cannone, Zack Mitchell, Brady Brassart and Ryan Carter.
Defensemen: Matt Dumba, Marco Scandella, Gustav Olofsson, Christian Folin, Nate Prosser, Mike Weber, Victor Bartley, Alex Gudbranson, Guillaume Gelinas.
Goaltenders: Alex Stalock, Darcy Kuemper, Johan Gustafsson.
* Players not listed are expansion exempt.