In late March, at ESPN, four writers chose potential rosters for the Vegas Golden Knights.
- Scott Burnside had the Rangers losing Nick Holden.
- Craig Custance and Pierre LeBrun had the Rangers losing Antti Raanta.
- Joe McDonald had the Rangers losing Oscar Lindberg.
As of now, the Rangers list of protected players is expected to be Henrik Lundqvist, Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, JT Miller, Mika Zibanejad and Kevin Hayes at forward and Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. (Cap Friendly)
Lundqvist, Nash, Staal and Girardi are all required to be protected due tot their no-move clause but all can be exposed if they are asked and agree to waive their no-move clauses.
It's been reported at times that the Rangers may ask Girardi to waive his no-move in an effort to likely protect Nick Holden.
Players that would be exposed, as of now, include Michael Grabner, Kevin Klein, Antti Raanta and Nick Holden.
The Rangers do need to have another forward under contract to expose.
Players such as Tanner Glass (UFA) Brendan Smith (UFA), Brandon Pirri (RFA), Jesper Fast (RFA), Matt Puempel (RFA) and Oscar Lindberg (RFA) are all eligible to be exposed but they are not currently under contract.
Vegas has the possibility to sign one of the above RFAs without giving any compensation to the Rangers during an advance signing window. Vegas can also sign one of the Ranger pending UFAs and if they sign either a UFA or RFA that would count as the player the Rangers lose. (LeBrun)
Larry Brooks wrote in April that Jesper Fast would be next in the pecking order of players the Rangers would want to protect. (NY Post)
Jimmy Vesey, Pavel Buchnevich and Brady Skjei are exempt from the expansion draft.
Adam Rotter: Jesper Fast, to me, is the most important player for the Rangers to keep. He's a hard worker, can score at times and was consistently one of the best Rangers in the playoffs. He's someone that Alain Vigneault has a lot of trust in and someone who likely won't break the bank to keep longer-term. The Rangers may need to send something to Vegas if they want to prevent them from taking Fast, since the Rangers likely don't have a spot to protect him unless Rick Nash agrees to waive his no-move.
Michael Grabner and his 27 goals, and 4 in the playoffs, is probably the most polarizing option. Based upon the forwards the Rangers are likely going to protect, it's almost certain that Grabner will be exposed. He was by far the biggest surprise and while his 27 goals certainly helped, he wasn't signed to be a scorer. He was signed to be a role player and while he exceeded that role, the post he had on the third line for most of this year really needs to go to Pavel Buchnevich. If I had to choose which player for Vegas to take out of Fast, Raanta, Lindberg and Grabner, it would probably be Grabner. Ultimately the Rangers are going to lose a good player and that guy might be Grabner.