It took the NHL an extra 30 minutes to reveal, but the list is officially in.
And after months of speculation and prognosticating, the Dallas Stars have protected the following players.
Forwards (7): Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza, Tyler Seguin, Radek Faksa, Valeri Nichushkin, Antoine Roussel, Brett Ritchie
Defenders (3): John Klingberg, Esa Lindell, Stephen Johns
Goalie (1): Ben Bishop
Those 11 players are protected, meaning the likes of Dan Hamhuis and Cody Eakin were left exposed and seem like favorites to join the Vegas Golden Knights.
The pool of Stars players Vegas is picking from (remember side deals are allowed). pic.twitter.com/zBqM6moKkP— Sean Shapiro (@seanshapiro) June 18, 2017
Overall, the Stars’ protection list tells us a couple things, while it also leaves a couple questions.
• The Stars value the depth they have on the right side. Right-handed defenders in the NHL are the equivalent to left-handed pitchers in baseball. Having a future on the right side of Klingberg, Johns, and Julius Honka (who was exempt from expansion) is an exciting prospect.
• Brett Ritchie is going to be given a chance to succeed in Dallas. While many people may look at the final decision as Eakin vs. Roussel, the debate of Ritchie vs. Eakin was just as heated. Ritchie has top-line potential, and the Stars are willing to see if he can pan out.
Now for the key questions.
• Is there a side deal in place? The Stars may have something in place with Vegas to keep Hamhuis or Eakin protected.
• Is there another player exposed that the Stars would like from another team? That wheeling and dealing started Sunday and the Stars could try and convince Vegas to select a player and then trade them to the Stars.
Either way, it’s an exciting time for the NHL, even if they botched the announcement and delayed the unveiling at the last possible second.
Follow Sean Shapiro on Twitter @SeanShapiro.