Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Few surprises in Lightning expansion-draft protection list

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn (55), left, tangles with Los Angeles Kings left wing Andy Andreoff (15) during the second period of Tuesday's (2/7/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the LA Kings at Amalie Arena in Tampa.

DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Times

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Braydon Coburn (55), left, tangles with Los Angeles Kings left wing Andy Andreoff (15) during the second period of Tuesday's (2/7/17) game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the LA Kings at Amalie Arena in Tampa.

TAMPA — There weren't many surprises when the Lightning's expansion-draft protection list was revealed Sunday.

Well, except maybe one.

Tampa Bay, as expected, chose the option to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie from selection by the Vegas Golden Knights. The forwards were predictable, led by captain Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov, Ryan Callahan (automatic with his no-move contract clause), Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat. Alex Killorn and Vladislav Namestnikov were also on the list, a spot freed up because of Thursday's trade of Jonathan Drouin.

It was the blue line that likely involved the most difficult decisions. And the result was interesting. The Lightning protected veteran Braydon Coburn, along with givens Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman.

That means promising rookie Jake Dotchin was left unprotected and 2012 first-round draft pick Slater Koekkoek. Veterans Andrej Sustr and Jason Garrison were also exposed for the Golden Knights, who will select one player from each of the other 30 teams. So the Lightning, which is still looking to improve its blue line, could lose a regular.

Vegas' selections will be announced during the NHL awards show Wednesday (8 p.m., NBCSN).

RELATED: List of all teams' players made available for the NHL expansion draft.

It's not a complete shock that the Lightning protected Coburn. Coburn, 32, is a steady, experienced player who just more than a year ago got a three-year contract extension (with a $3.7 million salary cap hit each of the next two seasons). And Dotchin, a 2012 sixth-round pick, has played in just 35 NHL games. But the way Dotchin, 23, emerged last season, balancing out the blue line as a strong partner for Hedman, you would think he had put himself in the Lightning's plans. Teammates and coaches raved about Dotchin, trusting him with big, important minutes, including overtime. The 6-foot-3 right-shot brought size and grit the Lightning had lacked.

Koekkoek, 23, the 10th overall pick in 2012, still has high upside, even though he hasn't stuck in the league for a full season.

Koekkoek and Dotchin can be restricted free agents July 1. Vegas has an exclusive negotiating window with teams' unprotected restricted and unrestricted free agents until Wednesday. If a player is signed, that counts as the expansion-draft pick of the team he leaves.

But before Lightning fans freak out, there's one big caveat. Teams can make side deals with Vegas that can help them control what players they lose. So the Lightning, for example, could offer a draft pick or prospect to Vegas to make it steer away from the likes of Dotchin & Co. Vegas general manager George McPhee's message Sunday to his colleagues: "You can negotiate your way out of this if you wish. Every team in this league has a chance to protect their roster."

Lightning GM Steve Yzerman talked Thursday about how those types of deals can be complicated.

"You measure what it's going to cost you for that certainty versus the risk of the unknown, what you're going to lose," Yzerman said. "At some point, it makes sense, and some point, it doesn't."

Lightning expansion draft protected list

The players the Lightning are protecting from selection in the expansion draft for the Vegas Golden Knights:

Forwards: Ryan Callahan, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov, Ondrej Palat, Steven Stamkos

Defensemen: Braydon Coburn, Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman

Goalie: Andrei Vasilevskiy

Notable unprotected players

Defensemen Jake Dotchin, Slater Koekkoek, Jason Garrison, Andrej Sustr, Luke Witkowski. Forwards J.T. Brown, Yanni Gourde, Cedric Paquette

• List of all unprotected players at tampabay.com/lightning.

Few surprises in Lightning expansion-draft protection list 06/18/17 [Last modified: Sunday, June 18, 2017 11:38pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Longest home run at Trop and Erasmo Ramirez's pitching doom Rays (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Kevin Kiermaier returned. The problem was, so did Erasmo Ramirez.

    Seattle Mariners first baseman Yonder Alonso (10) scores on the double by Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  2. Rays journal: Kevin Kiermaier returns, Mallex Smith sent to Triple A

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It didn't take CF Kevin Kiermaier long to make his presence felt during his return Friday to the Rays lineup. Kiermaier pretended to have Mariners DH Nelson Cruz's first-inning line drive lined up even as the ball went past him to his right and to the wall.

    Tampa Bay Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier (39) flies out in the first inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.
  3. Rays vs. Mariners, 6:10 p.m. Saturday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: vs. Mariners

    6:10, Tropicana Field

    TV/radio: Fox Sports Sun; 620-AM, 680-AM (Spanish)

    This is a 2017 photo of Jake Odorizzi of the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team. This image reflects the 2017 active roster as of Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017 when this image was taken. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
  4. Bucs journal: Starting defense disappointed holding Jags to 1 rushing yard

    Bucs

    JACKSONVILLE — The Bucs' starting defense held the Jaguars to a total of 1 rushing yard on seven carries in the first half of Thursday's 12-8 preseason win.

    And its members were disappointed.

    Jacksonville Jaguars running back T.J. Yeldon (24) is thrown for a 1-yard loss as he is stopped by Tampa Bay Buccaneers linebacker Lavonte David (54) and defensive end Robert Ayers (91) during the first half of an NFL preseason football game, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) JVS102
  5. Jameis Winston's hardest lesson: He can't always save the day

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Ever wonder what in the world goes through Jameis Winston's mind when he tries to fit the ball in a keyhole as he is being dragged to the turf like he was during Thursday night's 12-8 preseason win over the Jaguars?

    Jameis Winston, left, tries to hang on to the ball as Jaguars defensive end Dante Fowler tries to strip it from him.