The Blues’ protected list won’t be officially released until June 18th, but there’s plenty of reason to believe that Dmitrij Jaskin, Carl Gunnarsson, or Carter Hutton might not be protected, and could be tapped by the leagues’ newest franchise in the 2017 Expansion Draft.
Out of this group, losing Carter Hutton might just hurt the most. He’s been a stellar goaltender when called upon, and the depth at the goaltending position behind Hutton is mediocre at best. Copley got shipped back to the Capitals, Binnington has largely underwhelmed, and Husso, while promising, may not be totally ready to take the reigns if Allen gets hurt.
Increasingly, I’m of the opinion that the logjam at forward needs to be meaningfully addressed. Jaskin, while showing the occasional flash of brilliance, has put up a somewhat forgettable 44 points over a career 190 games with the Blues. Jaskin certainly has some upside, and with more consistent ice time, he could work his way into the Golden Knight’s top-six. But if Vegas wants a forward, under the right circumstances, they could just as easily select Perron or Reaves, too.
Who ends up being covered by St. Louis’ protected list will likely come down to which forward Armstrong chooses to protect with the 7th spot, according to Jeremy Rutherford. Many Blues fans have started to salivate over the prospect of losing Jori Lehtera in exchange for a draft pick or prospect (the pick that St. Louis acquired in the Kevin Shattenkirk trade might come in handy here.) I wouldn’t hold your breath though, especially when it comes to expecting Armstrong to work things out with a trade. While Vegas has to hit a “minimum” cap floor, and his oversized contract might help if they were running a bit cheap, I think nabbing Hutton or Gunnarsson probably makes more sense for a new club starting from scratch. Jori-to-Vegas isn’t totally out of the question, however. If Armstrong really wants to get an upgrade at center (or even if he just wants to clear the ledger for Parayko’s extension) he’ll need more cap space and this would be a good way to do it.
Two of TSN’s analysts have Lehtera and Reaves being selected in their draft predictions, and if you want to create your own Vegas roster, CapFriendly has a pretty great mock expansion draft tool on their website.