2017 NHL expansion draft: Chicago Blackhawks’ protection list

Here are the players safe from the Golden Knights’ grasp for now.

Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, and a host of other big names highlight the Chicago Blackhawks’ protection list for the 2017 NHL expansion draft. All 11 players on the Hawks’ list are not available to the Vegas Golden Knights, who will announce their picks from each team at the NHL Awards on Wednesday.

There wasn’t a ton of intrigue surrounding the Blackhawks’ choices for their protection list because of their many no-movement clauses. Kane, Toews, Artem Anisimov, Marian Hossa, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, and Corey Crawford needed to be protected as a result of NMCs in their contracts.

That left the Blackhawks to decide between protecting one defenseman or three more forwards. Unsurprisingly, they opted to protect Ryan Hartman, Richard Panik, and Tomas Jurco rather than a fourth defenseman like Trevor van Riemsdyk.

Now we’ll all wait until Wednesday to see who the Blackhawks ultimately lose to Vegas. Reports have indicated the league is asking teams not to announce deals prior to that day, and the Hawks and Golden Knights may already have an agreement in place. But no matter what happens, Vegas is getting at least one player from Chicago. It just won’t be anyone who is protected.

Who is on the Blackhawks’ protection list?

Jonathan Toews (NMC), Patrick Kane (NMC), Artem Anisimov (NMC), Marian Hossa (NMC), Richard Panik, Ryan Hartman, Tomas Jurco, Brent Seabrook (NMC), Duncan Keith (NMC), Niklas Hjalmarsson (NMC), Corey Crawford (NMC)

Who is exempt from the expansion draft?

All players who have two or fewer years of NHL/AHL experience are exempt from the expansion draft process. This most notably includes superstar winger Artemi Panarin, who just completed his sophomore season with the Blackhawks. Here’s the complete list of exempt players under contract:

Artemi Panarin, Jan Rutta, Nick Schmaltz, John Hayden, Tyler Motte, Alex DeBrincat, Vinnie Hinostroza, Gustav Forsling, Michal Kempny, Tanner Kero, Anthony Louis, Carl Dahlstrom, Luc Snuggerud, Robin Norell, Erik Gustafsson, David Kampf, Nathan Noel, Matthew Highmore, Matheson Iacopelli, Graham Knott, Luke Johnson, Alexandre Fortin, Kyle Baun, Kenton Helgesen, Nolan Valleau

Who covers their experience requirements?

Each team is required to leave available at least two forwards and one defenseman who are under contract for 2017-18 and appeared in at least 40 games in 2016-17 or 70 games across the past two seasons. Additionally, there must an an available goalie who is under contract for next season or a restricted free agent.

For the Blackhawks, Marcus Kruger and Jordin Tootoo will cover the forward spots, while Michal Rozsival covers defense. Jeff Glass covers the goalie requirement.

Who is available for the Golden Knights now?

Everyone else. That includes Marcus Kruger, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Jordin Tootoo, Ville Pokka, Brian Campbell, Dennis Rasmussen, Michael Latta, Brandon Mashinter, Andrew Desjardins, Pierre-Cedric Labrie, Viktor Svedberg, Michal Rozsival, Johnny Oduya, and Mac Carruth

What happens now?

The Golden Knights could just select TVR and be done with it, but it sounds like they’re open to a deal that also ships Kruger and his $3.08 million cap hit to Vegas. Most likely, this will cost the Blackhawks some small asset in order to grease the wheels now that TVR is out there for the taking. The Golden Knights will need a reason to take Kruger’s contract, and it’s not going to be to acquire a player they could get anyway.

So it seems like there’s a good chance this ends with Vegas getting TVR, Kruger, and a draft pick or prospect, while Chicago gets “future considerations.” For the Blackhawks, the real return in this scenario will be over $3 million in cap space, obviously. For the Golden Knights, it should be a good opportunity to get a couple useful players with Stanley Cup experience whose contracts won’t crush the team’s ability to build toward the future, plus they’ll likely get an asset for their troubles.

The Golden Knights’ inaugural roster will be announced at the NHL Awards, which is at 7 p.m. CT on Wednesday.