Montreal Canadiens protection list for the Las Vegas expansion draft released

It’s official, we know which players the Habs will protect and expose for the upcoming expansion draft.

The expansion draft game plan has changed several times in the last week for Marc Bergevin and the Montreal Canadiens, following the acquisition of Jonathan Drouin and the Nathan Beaulieu trade. Bergevin had just a few hours following the trade with Buffalo to submit his final protection list, and today the NHL has released those names to the public.

Here’s the situation for the Habs.

Players exempt from the expansion draft

Goaltenders: Michael McNiven, Hayden Hawkey, Zachary Fucale, Charlie Lindgren

Defencemen: Ryan Johnston, Simon Bourque, Arvid Henrikson, Noah Juulsen, Nikolas Koberstein, Brett Lernout, Victor Mete, Magnus Nygren, Tom Parisi, Casey Staum, Jakub Jerabek

Forwards: Mark MacMillan, Jeremiah Addison, Daniel Audette, Will Bitten, Matt Bradley, Jake Evans, Jeremy Gregoire, Artturi Lehkonen, Michael McCarron, Michael Pezzetta, Martin Reway, Nikita Scherbak, Lukas Vejdemo, Andreas Martinsen, Antoine Waked, Markus Eisenschmid

Official Protected list

Goalie: Carey Price.

Defencemen: Jeff Petry, Shea Weber, Jordie Benn.

Forwards: Max Pacioretty, Jonathan Drouin, Brendan Gallagher, Alex Galchenyuk, Andrew Shaw, Philip Danault, and Paul Byron.

Unprotected list

Goalie: Al Montoya

Defencemen: Alexei Emelin, Brandon Davidson, Zach Redmond, Dalton Thrower (RFA), Keegan Lowe (RFA), Nikita Nesterov (UFA), Andrei Markov (UFA).

Forwards: Tomas Plekanec, Torrey Mitchell, Daniel Carr, Charles Hudon, Chris Terry, Jacob de la Rose (RFA), Connor Crisp (RFA), Stefan Matteau (RFA), Alex Radulov (UFA), Brian Flynn (UFA), Bobby Farnham (UFA), Dwight King (UFA).

The Vegas Golden Knights will make their expansion draft picks in the coming days and announce their selections on Wednesday night throughout the NHL awards ceremony. The choices will be staggered throughout the show, starting with the Colorado Avalanche, and working up through the regular-season standings to the Washington Capitals, who won the President’s Trophy.

The Canadiens have up-and-coming players on the unprotected list, as well as a few predictable options.

Veterans Tomas Plekanec and Alexei Emelin did not receive a protection spot It’s questionable whether or not the Golden Knights would want to select either, considering their contracts aren’t particularly great value. Both are on the last year of their deals, carrying $6M and $4.1M cap hits, respectively.

Charles Hudon, Brandon Davidson, and (to a lesser extent) Jacob de la Rose and Daniel Carr represent the most tempting choices for Las Vegas, seeing as they’re all players that are yet to hit their prime.

More specifically, it will probably come down to Davidson or Hudon.

If Bergevin is set on keeping both, he could also opt to make a trade with the Knights, sending them an additional asset to ensure the expansion team will select a specific player.

If the salary cap remains flat, the Canadiens have $56M committed to the roster next season, which leaves $17M in space. As it stands, they still have a few players left to sign, including restricted free agent Alex Galchenyuk, unrestricted free agent Andrei Markov, and possibly Alexander Radulov.

This is a unique opportunity for general managers around the league to create cap space, and the Habs are the exact type of team that should look into creating more flexibility, and strengthen their ability to make bold moves to improve the roster. The price, however, will not be enticing, given that cap space is one of the most precious commodities in the NHL. George McPhee is currently collecting first-round picks, and you can assume he’ll pick up bevy of additional picks before they announce their roster lineup on Wednesday night. It remains to be seen whether or not the Canadiens will be involved in the expansion draft madness.

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