- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 18, 2017

The NHL revealed the list of protected and available players for all 30 teams Sunday for the June 21 expansion draft and there were no surprises with the Washington Capitals.

Among the top options the Capitals left available for the Vegas Golden Knights are defenseman Nate Schmidt and goaltender Philipp Grubauer. Vegas also has an exclusive 72-hour window to sign any of Washington’s free agents, such as T.J. Oshie, but such a move is unlikely considering Vegas wants to build their team with younger prospects on reasonable contracts and it would count as Vegas’ selection.

Vegas’ selections will be announced Wednesday. The Golden Knights have to select one player from every team.

Over the course of the next three days, Vegas general manager George McPhee and other GMs will now have conversations to negotiate side deals for the Knights not to draft certain players that were still left unprotected.

For the Capitals, it’s plausible general manager Brian MacLellan tries to offer McPhee a future draft pick, so the Golden Knights don’t draft Schmidt.

Last month, MacLellan envisioned Schmidt as a top four defenseman for the Capitals next season, so losing him would create a roster hole. The Capitals, though, don’t have a lot of room to work with since they have already traded many of their other draft picks. 

The Capitals are missing picks from the first three rounds in this year’s draft due to trades for Kevin Shattenkirk, Lars Eller and Mike Weber. MacLellan also traded away a 2018 second-round pick as part of the Eller trade and a 2018 fifth-round pick, so the Capitals could protect Eller in expansion draft, acquiring center Tyler Graovac from Minnesota.

The Capitals protected the following players, as expected:

Nicklas Backstrom (F)

Andre Burakovsky (F)

Lars Eller (F)

Marcus Johansson (F)

Evgeny Kuznetsov (F)

Alex Ovechkin (F)

Tom Wilson (F)

John Carlson (D)

Matt Niskanen (D)

Dmitry Orlov (D)

Braden Holtby (G)

The Vegas Golden Knights can select one of the following players from the Capitals organization:

Jay Beagle (F)

Chris Bourque (F)

Paul Carey (F)

Brett Connolly (F)

Stanislav Galiev (F)

Tyler Graovac (F)

Garrett Mitchell (F)

Liam O’Brien (F)

T.J. Oshie (F)

Zach Sill (F)

Chandler Stephenson (F)

Christian Thomas (F)

Nathan Walker (F)

Justin Williams (F)

Daniel Winnik (F)

Karl Alzner (D)

Taylor Chorney (D)

Cody Corbett (D)

Darren Dietz (D)

Christian Djoos (D)

Tom Gilbert (D)

Aaron Ness (D)

Brooks Orpik (D)

Nate Schmidt (D)

Kevin Shattenkirk (D)

Pheonix Copley (G)

Philipp Grubauer (G)

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