If the Lightning is going to make a side deal with Vegas to protect rookie Jake Dotchin, it will have to have done so by the end of the Monday.
Vegas GM George McPhee said he's had conversations with many teams the past 24 hours since the protection lists were revealed. But McPhee said today will be the last day for teams to make a trade with them to ensure protection of a player left exposed.
"We're going to pick our team (Tuesday)," McPhee said.
The Golden Knights have until Wednesday at 10 a.m. to make their selections for the draft, held at 8 p.m. in Las Vegas (NBSCN). But McPhee wants as much time as he can, knowing a late trade Tuesday would complicate things.
The Lightning protected seven forwards (Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn, Vladislav Namestnikov), three defensemen (Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman, Braydon Coburn). That means notably left unprotected are Dotchin, who balanced out the Lightning's top four last season, Slater Koekkoek (a former first round pick), J.T. Brown, Cedric Paquette and Yanni Gourde.
Tampa Bay can ensure Dotchin or another player isn't taken by making a deal with Vegas. The Lightning does have two second-rounders in this weekend's NHL Draft in Chicago. The Lightning could also try to swing a deal for a top-four defenseman - which was left unprotected by another team (aka Matt Dumba) - but it sounds like it won't come cheap.
"Whatever you want to give us has to be better than what we can claim from that club," McPhee said. "Then we're going to go to that club and say, 'We have interest in this player, there's another club that has interest in this player. How do we want to do this?How can we protect your roster. You can negotiate your way out of this if you wish."
Lightning GM Steve Yzerman said such side deals have to balance how much you're willing to give up for certainty (of a player you lose) vs the risk of the unknown.
"At some point it makes sense," Yzerman said. "And at some point it doesn't make sense."
The clock is ticking.