On Sunday, at 8 a.m. MT, 30 NHL teams’ protection lists will be revealed to the Vegas Golden Knights, and to everyone else, as well.
But since lists were submitted at 3 p.m. MT today, details have been leaking out. As it stands, we know just who the Flames have decided to protect, and there are absolutely no surprises on the list.
Via Eric Francis, the Flames opted to protect seven forwards, three defencemen, and one goalie:
- Johnny Gaudreau
- Sean Monahan
- Mikael Backlund
- Michael Frolik
- Sam Bennett
- Micheal Ferland
- Curtis Lazar
- Mark Giordano
- T.J. Brodie
- Dougie Hamilton
- Mike Smith
There was brief contention over the forwards throughout the year, but things sorted themselves out. Headed into the season, Gaudreau, Monahan, Backlund, Frolik, and Bennett were givens: two are the top two scorers on the team, two are the most reliable shutdown veterans they have, and Bennett was the highest draft pick in franchise history who still has a ton of potential.
The final two forward spots were a bigger question. Troy Brouwer was assumed to be one of them; after all, he was a guy with a recent history of consistent scoring, and after being the Flames’ big free agency get, was sure to be a key part of the team… until he rather quickly showed himself as not quite worth it. Whether his 2016-17 season was just one isolated down year or whether it was a sign of things to come, as the season went on, there was absolutely zero justification for using a protection slot on him.
Enter two younger forwards. Ferland put in consistent play and effort throughout the season before eventually being rewarded with first line time, when Gaudreau and Monahan finally found a linemate who clicked. Lazar, meanwhile, didn’t play for the Flames upon being acquired, but as he was acquired for a second round pick and is believed by management to be a big part of the team’s future – and seeing as how there aren’t any other forwards necessarily worth protecting over him – was a given.
The defence was automatic; ever since expansion draft rules were released, we’ve known who would be protected. Hopefully, once the draft is over, the Flames will be able to add that top four defenceman they were unable to throughout the season due to expansion.
Smith was the final question mark to be protected, and why he was acquired earlier today: so he would be on the team in time to be protected. The Flames picked up their goalie at the 11th hour.
Now, all that’s left is to see just who the Flames will lose in the expansion draft. Possibilities include Brouwer, Alex Chiasson, Matt Stajan, Lance Bouma, Brett Kulak, Hunter Shinkraruk, and Emile Poirier. It’s also possible the Flames could lose one of their impending unrestricted free agents – Kris Versteeg, Michael Stone, Deryk Engelland – if Vegas selects them and they’re willing to sign.
Vegas’ chosen roster will be revealed on June 21, during the NHL Awards.