Opinion

Oilers Announce Protected List: Who Is Vegas Bound?

Just like 29 other teams around the NHL, the Edmonton Oilers released their protected list for the upcoming expansion draft to the public this morning. The club decided to go with the 7-3-1 format and there were no surprises to be found on the list.

The Oilers kept Cam Talbot as their goalie after a career year, and protected defenders Andrej Sekera, Adam Larsson and Oscar Klefbom. Up front, the club kept Milan Lucic, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Jordan Eberle, Leon Draisaitl, Mark Letestu, Zack Kassian and Patrick Maroon.

To my surprise there was some confusion this morning about players being ineligible for this draft. Due to the rules laid out by the NHL, clubs did not have to protect first or second year pros. So Connor McDavid, Darnell Nurse, Matt Benning, Anton Slepyshev and Jesse Puljujarvi were not a factor in Edmonton’s decision making process.

To be quite honest, the rules of this expansion draft really benefit teams like the Oilers. Edmonton was able to protect all of its core players and most of the support cast without any kind of drama. There was no need for Peter Chiarelli to make a side deal to steer Vegas away from a certain player. The Oilers benefited greatly.

The Vegas Candidates:

There is some debate here as to who the Golden Knights will take from the Oiler organization, but I think we can easily narrow the list of possible picks down to about four players.

The following players, per the Oilers, are eligible to be selected by Vegas: David Desharnais, Justin Fontaine, Matt Hendricks, Roman Horak, Jujhar Khaira, Anton Lander, Iiro Pakarinen, Tyler Pitlick, Zack Pochiro, Benoit Pouliot, Henrik Samuelsson, Bogdan Yakimov, Mark Fayne, Andrew Ference, Mark Fraser, Eric Gryba, David Musil, Jordan Oesterle, Griffin Reinhart, Kris Russell, Laurent Brossoit and Jonas Gustavsson.

The Oilers don’t have, outside of Kris Russell, any pending UFA who would be of interest to Vegas so we can cross them all off the list. We can also cross off Lander, Gustavsson and Yakimov, who are signed in Europe for next season and not likely to return to North America in the near future.

That leaves Jujhar Khaira, Griffin Reinhart, Laurent Brossoit and Iiro Pakarinen as the most appealing pieces for the Golden Knights to take. Of course, if Edmonton makes it worth their while, Vegas could take Pouliot or Fayne and their massive contract off the club’s hands, but I find that unlikely.

Who Will Vegas Take?:

I can see the Golden Knights taking Jujhar Khaira because he’s a cheap forward who is also NHL ready at this time. That being said, I believe that the pick will be Griffin Reinhart.

Reinhart is a big WHL defender and Vegas GM George McPhee has been a fan of players like that throughout the years. He’s also likely to be NHL ready this fall and will be on an affordable contract for at least next season. The Golden Knights also have the luxury of Reinhart being a young player who is still very much developing.

When you look at how important defense is in the NHL today, it makes a lot of sense that the Golden Knights would take a big and young defender who could grow with them and be a contributor for years to come. It just makes too much sense for the expansion club to take him.

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