As many of you who follow the NHL know, next season will feature the first chapter in the new Las Vegas Golden Knights franchise history. Before that can happen, the Golden Knights have to build themselves a roster, and as per NHL tradition, that means that Vegas will have the opportunity to select one player from each of the remaining 30 teams in the league.

In years past, the goal was to simply fill out the roster of the new expansion franchise, but this time around, the NHL has decided that it wants their newest club member to be competitive right out of the gate.

So, certain rules were put in place to help speed up Vegas' competitive timetable. On June 21st, at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Golden Knights will formally announce to the world their list of selected players.

The Ny Islanders are in the same boat as every other club in the NHL. They will lose one player to the new Sin City team. There has been much speculation over who this player might be, and one name that has been prevalent among the rumors is Left-Winger Jason Chimera.

Having covered this team for the past season, here are my picks, as well as the reasoning behind them, for who the Islanders should protect, and who, unfortunately, will be leaving.


The Islanders will go with the 7-3-1 protection scheme.

(7 forwards, 3 defenseman, and 1 goalie.)


Thomas Greiss (signed for 3yrs/$10million) AAV is $3.33M. A goalie of the future who is signed long-term with a team-friendly cap hit, especially if he can truly develop into a full-time front end starter.

Not protecting: Jaroslav Halak and JF Berube.

Halak: Unrestricted Free Agent (UFA) after next season, currently has a cap hit of $4.5M for the upcoming season.

Only one goalie can be protected and in this case the current contract goes against him.

Berube: Currently not under contract for next year and therefore no need to waste a protection slot on him. Besides, he's not eligible to be taken.


John Tavares, Casey Cizikas, Anders Lee, Andrew Ladd, Josh Bailey, Nikolai Kulemin, and Brock Nelson.

Tavares: First and foremost, he is still the most talented, and best points scorer on the team. He has his drawbacks (face-offs and defense) but he is still extremely talented. Plus, he has a No-Movement Clause so he automatically has to be protected unless they buy him out, which isn't happening. In short, his free agent year is coming one year too late to make this a hard decision.

Cizikas: The stats don't jump out at you, and the contract is a little steep for somebody with his role ($3.5M AAV). Injuries have taken their toll on him, although he remains just 26-years old. However, watching him, and watching the team when he plays, there's an intangible there that just isn't evident in many players, especially on this team.

Call it grit, call it leadership, call it what you want, but he's not part of the problem.

Lee: He had an astounding year, as he set a new career-high in goals, and has a very reasonable cap hit for somebody with his stats. Not sure yet if he's a one-hit wonder, or if something finally "clicked" with him, but I'm willing to bet another year on him before determining if he deserves to remain on the team.

Ladd: Normally his big contract would scream to be exposed in the draft. Alas, he's got a nasty No-Movement Clause that binds the Islanders' hands. Sure, they could buy him out, but that wouldn't give them the cap relief they would want. Plus, he did score 20 goals yet again. Maybe there's something left in his tank, but unless the Isles are prepared to make his contract the next Chris Pronger, they have to keep him.

Bailey: He had a career year, and he ascended to playing on the top line. When he's playing with Tavares and Lee, you just see the chemistry that the trio has, and with his fairly reasonable cap hit, there's no reason to expose him. Would he be playing on the top-line of any other team in the league? No, but he's not on any other team, he's on the Islanders and he played his role well. Besides, his contract is up after next season, so if he regresses to previous levels, then they let him go as a UFA -- no harm no foul.

Kulemin: A questionable pick, and before you question my sanity, there's something about his play that says, "I know I can be better, I want to be better, and I'm willing to put in the work." He's already 30 and with a bit of a high cap hit (almost $4.2M) he's not quite the type of player who is suddenly going to turn his career around.

But, after watching him play, and watching the rest of the team play, there are no obvious candidates for the final two forward protection spots, and I'm willing to give him another year before probably letting him go in free agency.

Nelson: One of the emotional and physical leaders on the team. His grit and passion for the game give him the edge over a number of his teammates, and he scores 20 goals to boot.


Nick Leddy, Johnny Boychuk, and Travis Hamonic.

Leddy: Hands down the best defenseman on the team. He is an excellent skater that can join the rush on offense, can stickhandle, and shoot, which leads to him being able to create offense and move the puck. On most teams, his $5.5M cap hit for 7-years would be a problem, but his age (26) offsets that.

Not quite in the league of Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, and PK Subban, but he's a solid second-tier defenseman who still hasn't quite reached his full potential.

Boychuk: He is the Isles' second best defenseman behind Leddy. Inconsistent play and injuries have taken a toll on his performance, but second best is still second best. Besides, he has a No-Movement Clause so unless they buy him out he has to be protected.

Hamonic: The Isles' Dcore is unspectacular at best, but behind Leddy and Boychuk there is no question that Hamonic is the third best, and in this situation, that's all that matters when determining who to keep.