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Sabres protected list released

2009 NHL Entry Draft, First Round Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

With the expansion draft looming and a roster freeze in effect, the next big step in the NHL offseason is to see the list of protected players each team decides to keep out of the hands of the Golden Knights. Today, we found out who made the Buffalo Sabres list:

Ryan O’Reilly
Kyle Okposo
Evander Kane
Johan Larsson
Marcus Foligno
Tyler Ennis
Zemgus Girgensons

Rasmus Ristolainen
Jake McCabe
Nathan Beaulieu

Robin Lehner

The biggest names left unprotected by Buffalo include Will Carrier, Zach Bogosian, Matt Moulson, and Linus Ullmark. Carrier and Ullmark are now likely the prime targets for Vegas, unless a side deal will see one or both of them off of the Knight’s radar. Personally, I’m not exactly sure why you’d expose Carrier but keep Tyler Ennis, but maybe GM Jason Botterill and new coach Phil Housley think that they can still turn Ennis’ career around.

Here’s the full list of unprotected players, courtesy of our friend Joe Yerdon.

The Sabres chose to go with the option of protecting seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie, as opposed to the option of eight skaters of any type and one goalie. As a reminder, players with two or less years of NHL experience are automatically protected, which is why players like Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart’s names are missing.

As a second reminder, the protected lists aren’t the only factor to look at - teams are allowed to make deals with Vegas to take or not take certain players in exchange for draft picks. These deals can happen anytime between now and the expansion draft on Wednesday, but the deals will only be made public on Wednesday, barring any leaks.

Speaking of the draft, it will take place on Wednesday during the NHL Awards. The picks will be announced throughout the night in reverse order to where teams finished in the standings - so the Golden Knight’s selection from the Avalanche will be the first announcement, and we’ll go from there.

And now, let the expansion draft speculation begin!