NHL to make Vegas expansion draft protection lists public

Good news!

The protection lists for the 2017 NHL expansion draft will be made publicly available, the league decided Wednesday. Fans will be able to view the protection lists from all 30 clubs at the same time that they’re distributed to teams and media, per NHL.com’s Nick Cotsonika, which should make for a wild three days in mid-June.

The Vegas Golden Knights will be able to select one player from each of the 30 current franchises at the expansion draft, which is set for June 18-21. Protection lists have to be submitted by teams on June 18, and Vegas will announce all of its official selections to populate its first roster on June 21.

There had been reports that the NHL was considering keeping the protection lists, which determine the players Vegas cannot select from each team, private from the public. The general reaction to this from fans and media was quite negative, including on this website, and it appears in this instance the NHL heard the feedback and made the right call.

Now we’ll learn which nine to 11 players the Blackhawks have decided to protect from Vegas on June 18, roughly at the same time that the Golden Knights and the other 30 teams get all the information. For Chicago, there’s a bit less uncertainty given that eight no-movement clauses eat up most of their protected spots, and you figure Ryan Hartman and Richard Panik have played their way into at least two more.

A recent ESPN expansion mock draft had the Blackhawks losing either Trevor van Riemsdyk or Marcus Kruger to Vegas, which would cost the team a useful player in either situation. Most teams will lose useful pieces as part of the expansion draft process, though, as it’s just part of how the league tries to get the Golden Knights on acceptable footing to be relatively competitive from Day 1.

Luckily we’ll be tuned into the process the whole way now that it’s not being done behind closed doors, and that should make for a fun time when the hockey world would otherwise be quiet.