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NHL Expansion Draft is underway

The 2017 NHL Expansion Draft to stock the Vegas Golden Knights will begin today at 10 a.m. ET.

All 30 of the league’s existing clubs submitted their protection list to Central Registry and the NHLPA at 5 p.m. yesterday.

The Cats elected to protect 8 skaters – 1 goaltender instead of 7 forwards, 3 defensemen and 1 goaltender.

Florida protected forwards Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Vincent Trocheck and Nick Bjugstad; defensemen Keith Yandle (NMC), Aaron Ekblad, Mark Pysyk and Alex Petrovic; and goaltender James Reimer.

Going this route allowed the team to hang on to both Petrovic and Pysyk, but exposes Jonathan Marchessault (the team’s leading goalscorer last season), Reilly Smith and Jason Demers to the Golden Knights.

Unless the Panthers have worked out a “steering” deal with Vegas GM George McPhee already, one might question the reasoning behind exposing this much talent to the Golden Knights.

Protecting Bjugstad over Smith and especially Marchessault is a bit of a head-scratcher.

Who will the Panthers lose to Vegas?

Jason Demers 49
Jonathan Marchessault 201
Reilly Smith 43
Other 7
Roberto Luongo 9

Note: Article has been updated now that the Panthers protection list is official.