Pens Announce Expansion Protection List (+ Better Vegas Team Name Suggestions)
Via Hooks Orpik (is this still a good name to have?) of PensBurgh.com
At 10AM today the NHL announced the list of the protected and unprotected players that the Vegas Golden Knights will be able to pick.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have decided to protect the following players in an 8 skater + 1 goalie layout. (The alternative would have been 7 forwards + 3 defensemen + 1 goalie).
Goalie: Matt Murray
The choices of Crosby, Malkin, Kessel and Letang were automatic, given their no movement clauses, but those guys were all slam dunks to be retained anyways, so no big deal there.
Across the league, all rosters are frozen until Thursday, and only Vegas can talk to impending free agents.
The following Pens are exposed, and one will be selected by Vegas.
Carl Hagelin, Bryan Rust, Nick Bonino*, Matt Cullen*, Chris Kunitz*, Scott Wilson, Tom Kuhnhackl, Josh Archibald, Oskar Sundqvist, Jean-Sebastien Dea, Tom Sestito*, Kevin Porter*, Garrett Wilson*
Marc-Andre Fleury (waived no-movement clause for purpose of expansion draft)
*impending UFA on 7/1
Vegas will be able to begin negotiating with any pending RFAs/UFAs that are unprotected . If a player signs to a deal, that counts as the expansion selection. So, for instance, if Vegas offers Bonino 4 years, $4 million and he agrees to go there, he is signed to them with no questions asked, nothing the Pens can do to prevent it, and no compensation. But they wouldn't lose anyone else. This isn't really expected to happen for any of the Pens free agents, but is a possibility worth mentioning.
LVGK and their brain-trust has a few days to think strategy over, and on Wednesday morning they send their picks NHL for which player on every team they're taking. Their roster gets a public reveal Wednesday night at the NHL awards (also, as usual in Las Vegas) to announce the players that they have taken and all the trades that they are expected to make.
Most still expect that Fleury will be the player selected.
In my thoroughly-researched, super expert opinion, I too think Fleury's the guy to see the Vegas neon. Not sure what Vegas sees the appeal of trading him if that's their selection, but apparently that's some scuttle-butt too. Fleury more than showed his spryness during this second successful playoff run why can't he do that for the horribly-named Vegas franchise, or at the extreme least give them a little ice cred skating into their inaugural season?
And yes, the fact that Flower's leaving us is a real bummer, but a choice has to be made, and the decision between MAF and Murray is a tough one from a fan-favorite standpoint. Silver lining: he'll probably be the first goalie in Golden Knights history, so that's something right?
At least this limits Rust's chances of getting drafted after I just sniped a sweet pic of him throwing a towel to a kid who was right beside me:
I kid you not, this 6-year-old was chanting "LET'S GO PENS" for a solid 25 minutes no matter who was passing by. It could have been the duck boat people and he was still utilizing 100% of his lung capacity. He rightfully deserved this towel and the one Malkin threw to him later.
Also, I know I'm all over the map here, but Vegas could have chosen so many better names. Let's dabble down the degenerate gambler rabbit hole, eh? (In no particular order - gambling problem? Call 1-800-Gambler)
- Las Vegas Aces - light-hearted enough reference, but not "risque" enough to turn the younger demographic into future slot-machine zombies.
- Las Vegas Hookers - works on several levels. You want a 1970's Raiders atmosphere? This gives it to ya. Penalties and prostitutes.
- Las Vegas Killers - also works on several levels - sure, murder is frowned upon, but the alt band The Killers are from Nevada, you incorporate a sweet Slap Shot reference, and hey, what's scarier than a killer?
- Las Vegas Wayne Newtons - playing "Danke Shoen" as your goal music would be out-of-this-world weird, but the phrase means "thank you kindly" so that's kinda neat. Plus, imagine Wayne Newton's helmet head of a melon for a logo (with a couple missing chompers for added effect), I see no loss here.
- Las Vegas Rat Pack - if you know me, my obvious choice. Frank, Dean & Sammy posing as your "first line" embraces the storied history of Vegas plus, gives you plenty of opportunity for impersonators as mascots, sets the arena vibe with a bit of class and cool, and plenty of great music for the "just visiting/weekend tourist" hockey crowd.
But alas, the suits go the "bitch-out" route with the "Golden Knights".
Just an awful choice. No relation whatsoever to a city with so many fun connections. Embrace what the city's about, you corporate cowards. Not doing that seems fake and I think overall, bad marketing for an upstart franchise with an already shaky foundation of a fan base. Take a roll of the dice, hit the roulette wheel and take a chance on (probably not) alienating yourselves.
Oh well, Wednesday will be interesting times.