Jason Fitz was joined by the Tennessean’s Adam Vingan on Braden & Fitz Monday morning to discuss the recently released list of protected players from the upcoming Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft.
The list of protected players is as follows:
- Pekka Rinne, GT
- Ryan Ellis, D
- Mattias Ekholm, D
- Roman Josi, D
- P.K. Subban, D
- Filip Forsberg, LW
- Viktor Arvidsson, RW
- Calle Järnkrok, C
- Ryan Johansen, C
This left out James Neal, who Adam Vingan thinks will likely be a favorable option for the Golden Knights to select.
“Neal is a very enticing option for Las Vegas, for several reasons,” Vingan said. “He’s a proven scorer, he has scored at least 20 goals in each of his nine NHL seasons and had 30-plus goals two seasons ago.”
Many expected the offensive decision for the Preds would come down to Järnkrok or Neal, which doesn’t seem like an easy one. Vingan figures that most fans and media understand the situation, but also respects why some may be upset over Neal’s lack of protection.
“A lot of people understand the decision, why Järnkrok was protected,” Vingan said. “Based on the fact that he can play center and his contract is a lot more palatable and long-term, but I think a lot of people are looking at this and going, ‘Why would we leave a 20-goal scorer on the table potentially available to an expansion?”
Since the Predators may lose Neal, GM David Poile could look for additional support at the forward position in free agency. Neal’s consistent scoring would be missed if he departs for Las Vegas. However, Vingan made a point to say that the Predators have talent on the wings and that a notable signing may not be required considering that.
“You hope that, if you lose Neal, you have young players on the wing, that, through a combined effort, can come close to replacing the goalscoring of Neal,” Vingan said.
Vingan also said that Preds fans should be wary of losing forwards that aren’t Neal. Colton Sissons and Pontus Aberg are both unprotected and coming off impressive showings in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Both are 23-years-old and could be both legitimate contributors as well as valuable assets in the future. Aberg will certainly be in consideration, but Vingan thinks that Sissons could be as good, or an even better option for Vegas.
“Colton Sissons is young, he’s under contract for two more years at a very good price,” Vingan said. “He had a great showing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs as an impromptu No. 1 center, scoring a hat trick in a conference-final-clinching game. He did not look out of place in that role at all. If I’m Vegas, who’s looking to build a team for the future, if you can get a young, 20-something player who’s proven on a big stage… That’s a very enticing thing.”
To listen to the full interview, click below.