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The team name and logo for the Vegas Golden Knights are displayed on T-Mobile Arena's video wall after the Vegas Golden Knights was announced as the name for the Las Vegas NHL franchise on Nov. 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The team will begin play in the 2017-18 season.Ethan Miller/Getty Images

No team is better equipped to emerge unscathed from the 2017 NHL expansion draft than the Toronto Maple Leafs, who have no fewer than seven regulars – including emerging stars Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner – exempt from consideration.

Under the terms of the expansion formula that will stock the new Vegas Golden Knights, first- and second-year pros, along with unsigned draft choices, are not eligible for selection.

Among established players that do need to be protected, the established 30 member clubs can elect one of two options: Protect seven forwards, three defencemen and a goaltender or eight skaters plus one goalie.

Teams are obliged to make available one goaltender, one defenceman and two forwards who meet a minimum standard of playing experience.

In turn, Vegas must select one player from each established team – at least 14 of them forwards, nine defencemen and three goaltenders. The remaining four players can come from any position, so Vegas could theoretically draft as many as seven goaltenders and act as a broker for backup goalies next year. Players with no-movement clauses in their contracts must agree to waive them; if they refuse, teams are required to protect them.

Contractually, the players the Golden Knights select must have an aggregate dollar value of 60 to 100 per cent of the prior season's upper salary cap, which means teams are likely to dangle some high-profile, highly paid players in the hopes of shedding overpriced talent from their payrolls. The expectation is Vegas will strike multiple side deals with financially challenged teams in exchange for "expansion" considerations.

Teams that stand to lose high-end talent – such as the Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild – are expected to swap those players at the 11th hour rather than risk losing them for nothing, creating a flurry of last-minute deals that could rival the NHL trading deadline. Amid all the roster churning, Vegas general manager George McPhee may end up with the biggest cellphone bill in modern NHL history.

Following is a projection of how the Canadian teams' protected lists may look (in alphabetical order):

Calgary Flames (7F-3D-1G)


Forwards: Mikael Backlund, Sam Bennett, Micheal Ferland, Michael Frolik, Johnny Gaudreau, Curtis Lazar, Sean Monahan

Defencemen: T.J. Brodie, Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton

Goalies: Brian Elliott (UFA)

Exempt includes

Forwards: Mark Jankowski, Matthew Tkachuk

Defencemen: Rasmus Andersson, Oliver Kylington

Goalies: Jon Gillies, Tyler Parsons

AvailableGoalies: Tom McCollum, Chad Johnson (UFA)

Defencemen: Matt Bartkowski

Forwards: Lance Bouma, Troy Brouwer, Alex Chiasson, Matt Stajan

Edmonton Oilers (7F-3D-1G)


Forwards: Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle, Zack Kassian, Mark Letestu, Milan Lucic, Patrick Maroon, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

Defencemen: Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Andrej Sekera

Goalies: Cam Talbot

Exempt includes

Forwards: Drake Caggiula, Connor McDavid, Jesse Puljujarvi, Anton Slepyshev

Defencemen: Darnell Nurse


Goalies: Laurent Brossoit

Defencemen: Mark Fayne, Kris Russell (UFA)

Forwards: David Desharnais (UFA), Anton Lander, Iiro Pakarinen, Benoît Pouliot

Montreal Canadiens (7F-3D-1G)


Forwards: Paul Byron, Phillip Danault, Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, Max Pacioretty, Alexander Radulov (UFA), Andrew Shaw

Defencemen: Alexei Emelin, Jeff Petry, Shea Weber

Goalies: Carey Price

Exempt includes

Forwards: Artturi Lehkonen, Michael McCarron

Defencemen: Mikhail Sergachev


Goalies: Al Montoya

Defencemen: Nathan Beaulieu, Jordie Benn, Brandon Davidson, Andrei Markov (UFA)

Forwards: Brian Flynn, Dwight King, Torrey Mitchell, Tomas Plekanec, Chris Terry

Ottawa Senators (7F-3D-1G)


Forwards: Derick Brassard, Ryan Dzingel, Mike Hoffman, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Zack Smith, Mark Stone, Kyle Turris

Defencemen: Cody Ceci, Erik Karlsson, Dion Phaneuf

Goalies: Craig Anderson

Exempt includes

Forwards: Colin White


Goalies: Chris Driedger, Andrew Hammond

Defencemen: Mark Borowiecki, Jyrki Jokipakka, Marc Methot, Chris Wideman

Forwards: Alex Burrows, Clarke MacArthur, Tom Pyatt (UFA), Bobby Ryan, Viktor Stalberg (UFA), Tommy Wingels (UFA)

Toronto Maple Leafs (7F-3D-1G)


Forwards: Tyler Bozak, Connor Brown, Nazem Kadri, Leo Komarov, Josh Leivo, Matt Martin, James van Riemsdyk

Defencemen: Connor Carrick, Jake Gardiner, Morgan Rielly

Goalies: Frederik Andersen

Exempt includes

Forwards: Frédérik Gauthier, Zach Hyman, Kasperi Kapanen, Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews, William Nylander, Nikita Soshnikov

Defencemen: Nikita Zaitsev

INJ: Nathan Horton, Stéphane Robidas


Goalies: Antoine Bibeau, Garret Sparks

Defencemen: Matt Hunwick (UFA), Alexey Marchenko, Martin Marincin, Roman Polak (UFA)

Forwards: Brian Boyle (UFA), Eric Fehr, Brooks Laich (UFA), Brendan Leipsic, Joffrey Lupul, Ben Smith

Vancouver Canucks (7F-3D-1G)


Forwards: Sven Baertschi, Loui Eriksson, Markus Granlund, Bo Horvat, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Brandon Sutter

Defencemen: Alex Edler, Erik Gudbranson, Chris Tanev

Goalies: Jacob Markstrom

Exempt includes

Forwards: Brock Boeser, Nikolay Goldobin, Jake Virtanen

Defencemen: Ben Hutton, Troy Stecher, Olli Juolevi


Goalies: Richard Bachman

Defencemen: Luca Sbisa, Alex Biega

Forwards: Reid Boucher, Michael Chaput, Joseph Cramarossa, Derek Dorsett, Brendan Gaunce, Jayson Megna, Jack Skille

Winnipeg Jets (4F-4D-1G)


Forwards: Bryan Little, Adam Lowry, Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler

Defencemen: Dustin Byfuglien, Toby Enstrom, Tyler Myers, Jacob Trouba

Goalies: Connor Hellebuyck

Exempt includes

Forwards: Kyle Connor, Nikolaj Ehlers, Patrik Laine, Nic Petan, Brandon Tanev

Defencemen: Josh Morrissey

Goalies: Eric Comrie


Goalies: Michael Hutchinson

Defencemen: Ben Chiarot, Paul Postma

Forwards: Joel Armia, Andrew Copp, Marko Dano, Shawn Matthias, Mathieu Perreault

Edmonton Oilers head coach Todd McLellan says Connor McDavid’s introduction as captain was a turning point for the forward. McDavid is up for the Hart Trophy and the Ted Lindsay Award, which go to the NHL’s most valuable player.

The Canadian Press

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