After months of speculation, we now know who the Buffalo Sabres won't be losing to the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft.
On Sunday morning the NHL released every team's expansion draft protected list, just hours after they were submitted by each organization.
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) June 18, 2017
Here's who the Sabres protected:
— John Shannon (@JSportsnet) June 18, 2017
The Sabres protected list looks a lot like many of us imagined it would. Nothing shocking, but I was a little surprised the Sabres made 22-year-old William Carrier available to the Vegas Golden Knights. He has plenty of upside and he's a nice player who will likely play in the league for awhile.
That being said, not much else caught me off guard. I think the Sabres did the right thing by exposing players with hefty salaries like Matt Moulson and Zach Bogosian. Perhaps Jason Botterill will try and swing a deal to send the Golden Knights a draft pick (or multiple) to take one of those players off the Sabres' hands.
When looking at who was left unprotected I think the biggest loss for Buffalo would be if Vegas selected Linus Ullmark. I understand that Carrier has upside, but Ullmark has shown a lot of promise and I believe can be a good goaltender in the NHL in a few years.
Best case scenario:
Vegas takes Bogosian or Moulson and the Sabres don't need to sweeten the deal
The so-so scenario:
Vegas takes Bogosian or Moulson but the Sabres have to throw in a 'high' draft pick. I'd imagine it would require at least a second round pick, but that's really just a guess.
Worst case scenario:
Carrier or Ullmark head to Vegas. Both young players who the Sabres would love to keep in the organization. It's important to remember, the Sabres can still make a deal to assure that neither player is sent packing. Perhaps a deal to keep these two players would be cheaper than a deal forcing the Golden Knights to take on a big contract.