After submitting it to the NHL on Saturday afternoon, the St. Louis Blues’ list of players protected from the 2018 Las Vegas Expansion Draft was revealed on Sunday morning. The list contained few surprises, but may still be a source of controversy. The players protected were:
Goalie - Jake Allen
Defensemen - Jay Bouwmeester, Joel Edmundson, Alex Pietrangelo
Forwards - Patrik Berglund, Ryan Reaves, Jaden Schwartz, Vladimir Sobotka, Paul Stastny, Alexander Steen, Vladimir Tarasenko
For weeks, the Blues have made it clear that they would opt for the 7-3-1 protection scheme. Notable players who are exempt from selection by the Vegas Golden Knights due to their lack of professional experience include Ivan Barbashev, Robby Fabbri, Colton Parayko, and Zach Sanford.
Reaves’s inclusion represents a spot of contention for many Blues fans who may be surprised to see David Perron left exposed. Perron, who has one year remaining on a free agent contract signed last summer, scored 18 goals and recorded 46 points while appearing in all 82 games in 2016-17.
That productive season, however, was overshadowed by a woeful playoff performance that saw him record only one assist in 11 postseason games while seeing his ice time per game drop to an average of 14:27 from 17:18 in the regular season.
Reaves recorded only 13 points and racked up 104 penalty minutes in 80 regular season games, but is regarded by the team as a key part of the locker room culture and an important driving force for the forecheck.
Bouwmeester is coming off one of the least productive seasons of his career, scoring only once to set a new career low and recording only 15 points in 81 games. That point total represents his second lowest, ahead of only the 13 point season he recorded in 72 games played in 2014-15.
Per league rules, the Blues were required to expose at least two forwards and one defensemen who played in either 40 games in 2016-17 or a combined 70 games in 2015-16 and 2016-17. They are also required to expose one goaltender under contract or who is a pending restricted free agent. The notable exposed players are:
Goalie - Carter Hutton
Defensemen - Robert Bortuzzo, Carl Gunnarsson
Forwards - Kyle Brodziak, Dmitrij Jaskin, Jori Lehtera, Magnus Paajarvi, Perron, Ty Rattie, Nail Yakupov
The Golden Knights have made clear their willingness to engage in trades with teams in order to secure favorable expansion draft outcomes, as outlined in this statement released Saturday:
"The Golden Knights organization is very pleased with how the expansion draft process has gone so far, through the NHL trade freeze which took effect Saturday, June 17 at 12 noon PT. Now, General Manager George McPhee and his staff will continue to have discussions with the other 30 NHL clubs. Vegas has indicated that they will give all 30 clubs every opportunity to keep their rosters intact if they'd like. This means that before the Golden Knights claim a player off a team's unprotected list, McPhee and his staff are willing to negotiate deals so the other clubs do not lose a player they would otherwise like to keep."
It remains unclear whether the Blues will be willing to engage in such a deal, though General Manager Doug Armstrong seemed reluctant to embrace that possibility in an interview with Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
Vegas will select one player from each of the other 30 NHL teams, and those selections will be revealed on Wednesday night during the 2017 NHL Awards ceremony.