The Rangers announced their expansion draft protected list without much surprise. As expected Jesper Fast, Michael Grabner, Oscar Lindberg, Antti Raanta, Matt Puempel and Kevin Klein were left exposed for Las Vegas to draft.
As I’ve previously stated, losing Raanta or any of the above mentioned unprotected forwards not named Puempel would be a tough loss for the Blueshirts. And, unfortunately, based on reports from Rangers beat writers, the front office doesn’t appear willing to give up a first round pick (the going rate) for Vegas to select either Puempel or Klein.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that Rangers GM Jeff Gorton hasn’t been in talks with Golden Knights GM George McPhee about a side deal. One potential scenario that was brought up to me by TheNYRBlog reader Jim Regan is the possibility of Vegas agreeing to draft Klein, who has been rumored to be retiring this offseason to play in Europe, on the cheap.
The benefit of drafting Klein, who is in the final year of his contract, is that as soon as he does retire this summer, Vegas will instantly gain $2.9 million in additional salary cap space to use on an impending free agent.
Maybe Gorton can bring McPhee’s asking price down to a 3rd or 4th round pick for Klein considering the additional benefit of drafting a player who will in all likelihood retire immediately after being taken.
While this suggestion is unlikely to unfold, you do have to wonder why Klein has yet to announce his retirement despite the initial news being reported last week.