Recently the #NHL has granted expansion status to the city of Las Vegas, Nevada. Each of the 30 professional NHL teams has to create a list of protected players from the draft. They have options either 11 player (7 forwards, 3 defenseman and 1 goalie) or 9 players (8 skaters and 1 goalie). Vegas has a lot of accounting and video scouting to do inorder to get the best possible team and be under the salary cap. Here are the players I find to be some of the best and affordable.

James Neal

Neal is a tremendous player and is a shocker that #Nashville did not protect him really questions what they know or if they have a deal set in place to protect him.

He has 9 seasons under his belt. In his 9 seasons, he has not had a year with less than 20 goals and had 6 seasons with 40 points or more. Neal still has plenty of life left in the NHL. My main reason for picking Neal is his productivity and leadership ability. He has been around the league with 3 teams he has not yet won a Stanley Cup but almost did this past year. He knows how to win and can drive a team to win. Neal is also a very productive player with 41 points in the 71 games last year. A key feature he has though is his contract with only one year left on it. Which when Las Vegas is far out of the playoffs by the trade deadline. He could fetch a high price as a rental to a team that plans to make a deep playoff run.

Jonathan Marchessault

Everyone loves a #underdog. Marchessault is nothing short of that he has been the underdog his whole hockey career. He was never selected in any NHL draft has signed as a free agent with the Rangers affiliate the Connecticut Whale where in 76 games scored 64 points. Since then he hasn’t slowed down only proving himself more and more.

This past year with the Florida Panthers he had a breakout season. He scored 75 points in 51 games. At the young age of 26, he has still plenty of time left in the NHL and has shown this past year he can hang around with the pros and no one to look over. This is why he is my favorite pick to go to #Vegas and become a household name and the future of the Las Vegas franchise.

William Karlsson

#Columbus has an interesting situation the rumors are swirling says they traded their first round pick (24th overall) to Las Vegas. In order to ensure that only select either Calvert or Karlsson. Without this trade, Jonas Korpisalo would be the pick to take out of Columbus is one of the best goalie prospects in the NHL. Karlsson, however, is my pick if this rumor is true. He is a young left handed center. This past year in 81 games he had 25 points which aren't bad. I picked Karlsson over Calvert because of his productivity and of the two he is the younger and cheaper player.

Marko Dano

As many remember in the June of 2015 Dano was a part of the #blockbuster trade that sent Brandon Saad to Columbus Bluejackets.

Since then he was traded to Winnipeg and had 11 points in the 38 games this last season. Dano, however, is still a young player who turns 23 in November. He is also an inexpensive player with a contract of only $850,000. With the right team and coach Dano could become a top 9 forward in the NHL. One downfall he does have however is his height with him being only 5’11’’He was originally selected 27th overall in the 2013 draft by Columbus.

Kerby Rychel

Kerby is another player either flying under the radar of Las Vegas on right on the top of their potential picks. Even though he has very little NHL experience. Rychel is a former first round pick in 2011 still looking for this time to shine on the pro roster somewhere and Las Vegas could be that place.

This past year he played for the Toronto Marlies in the AHL where he had 52 points in 73 games. With the right system and opportunity, he could show his true potential. She is still very young turning 23 in October. It will be very interesting to see if he goes.

Andrej Sustr

Sustr is entering his sixth season in the NHL. This past season he had 14 points in 80 games where he played a vital role for the Tampa Bay Lightning. He is a huge body on the blue line being 6’7” 220 pounds. I would be amazed if Las Vegas looked over him. Even though he is set to become a restricted free agent. If the asking price is not too high to resign him I would be an all in on drafting him from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Matthew Dumba

Dumba is a young defenseman from the #Minnesota Wild who originally drafted him seventh overall in the 2012 draft. This past season he played in 76 games where he had 34 points and was a plus 15. It is interesting why Minnesota would leave should a young player at 22 years old unprotected. The only other option I see is Minnesota making a currently undisclosed deal that would not allow Las Vegas to select him. If there is no deal in place it would be a no-brainer to pick Dumba. He has a tremendous amount of potential and comes with 1 year remaining on a contract of $2.5 million dollars.

Xavier Ouellet

I am still puzzled on why the Red Wings did not protect the soon to be a 24-year-old restricted free agent.

This past year in 66 games he put up 12 points which aren't bad for his role on the roster. Before this year he never saw the NHL roster for the Red Wings. If he was to end up Las Vegas he will be able to take the next step and prove he deserves a top 4 spot in the NHL. He did average around 18 minutes a game for the Red Wings. If the second round pick in 2011 can prove his potential he could definitely see his minutes increase from 18 to easily 20 or 21 on an everyday basis.

Carter Hutton

Everyone believes Marc-Andre Fleury will end up in Las Vegas and be the starter there. I am one believer of this idea. With Fleury being in Las Vegas as the starter they will still need a backup goalie. Carter Hutton can be the backup or even the starting goalie if Fleury ends up not playing well or any other possible outcome.

Whatever role he does play he will be a presence in the Las Vegas locker room having 4 NHL seasons under his belt. This past season he went 13-8 with 2.39 goals against average.

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