Just when you thought the Wild's early-playoff exit was a puzzling one to figure out, things are about to get even more complicated with the upcoming NHL Expansion Draft.
In case you missed it, the Las Vegas Golden Knights are entering the league next season. It's the first time since 2000 – when Minnesota and Columbus joined the league – that the NHL is getting an expansion team.
Which means there will be an expansion draft to help Vegas fill their roster – where they can pluck certain players from the other teams. Here's how it will work, and how it could affect Minnesota.
What is the Expansion draft?
Minnesota, as well as the other 29 NHL teams, have two options for guaranteeing certain players won't get picked by Las Vegas in the upcoming expansion draft. They can protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender; or eight skaters (forwards and defensemen) and one goaltender.
The Golden Knights can not take more than one player from each NHL team during the draft. They are not required to take a player from every team.
Teams are not allowed to expose players in the expansion draft with non-movement causes in their contracts, unless that player elects to waive his clause.
Of note, all first and second-year players, as well as unsigned draft choices, are exempt from the expansion draft.
So who will the Wild protect?
Currently the Wild have four players with no-movement clauses. So as of May 30, they will have to protect: Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Jason Pominville and Ryan Suter. Since a goalie must also be protected, Devan Dubnyk is the obvious choice.
It's basically a sure thing Mikael Granlund and Jared Spurgeon will be protected too, considering the seasons they had.
And who will the Wild expose?
Assuming the Wild will use the 7-3-1 format that's listed above – and it's likely they will – here's how the rest of the roster shakes out after taking those above-mentioned names into consideration.
The Wild would be able to protect three more forwards. That includes notable names like Eric Staal, Nino Niedderiter, Jason Zucker, Charlie Coyle, Erik Haula and Chris Stewart.
On the blue line, the Wild can protect one more player. So pick among Matt Dumba, Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella and Christian Folin.
No matter who the Wild protect, it's obvious prominent players will be left exposed.
A way around it
Because teams don't want to just lose a player for nothing, every team from around the league – including the Wild – is reportedly currently in talks with Vegas about a possible trade before the draft takes place.
So let's say the Wild really want Marian Gaborik – who's under contract with the Los Angeles Kings. If Gaborik were to be exposed (which it looks like he will) Minnesota could swing a deal. Vegas takes Gaborik in the expansion draft, and then he could be traded to Minnesota for Matt Dumba.
That way, the Wild don't lose Dumba for nothing. And the Golden Knights still get a player they were already targeting.
And remember, Las Vegas is not required to take a player from each team in the expansion draft – so in this case the Golden Knights could agree to not take an exposed Minnesota player if a deal is struck.
Will we know who's exposed?
The NHL will make the projected lists public by 7 p.m. central time on Sunday, June 18. Las Vegas will then have 72 hours to make their picks of non-protected players in private.
Finally, the selections will be announced to the public on Wednesday, June 21 at the NHL Awards and Expansion Draft show at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.