Kunitz, Fleury left unprotected in NHL expansion draft


Los Angeles (AFP)

The Pittsburgh Penguins have left four-time Stanley Cup champion Chris Kunitz and former all-star goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury unprotected in the National Hockey League's upcoming expansion draft.

Kunitz and Fleury are among the most high-profile players available in this week's draft for the expansion Vegas Golden Knights who will make their NHL debut in the 2017-18 season.

The Golden Knights' selection of 30 players -- one from each NHL club -- will be revealed at the 2017 NHL awards and expansion draft on Wednesday in Las Vegas.

After Fleury agreed to waive the no-movement clause in his contract, the Penguins protected goaltender Matt Murray, who led them a week ago to their second consecutive championship.

Kunitz has been one of superstar Sidney Crosby's most consistent linemates over the years. He scored the winning goal in double overtime of game seven against the Ottawa Senators, which advanced the Penguins to the Stanley Cup finals against the Nashville Predators.

The NHL announced Sunday the available and protected lists for the 30 teams who will provide players to the Golden Knights. Each team can only lose one player.

The San Jose Sharks failed to protect forward Joe Thornton, the Washington Capitals left forward TJ Oshie free, the Florida Panthers made forward Jaromir Jagr available and the Montreal Canadiens didn't protect Russian star Alexander Radulov.

The Knights can also choose from several others off the Stanley Cup champions' list including forwards Matt Cullen, Bryan Rust, Carl Hagelin and defenceman Trevor Daley.

The Predators didn't protect James Neal, Mike Fisher, Colton Sissons, Craig Smith and Pontus Aberg. Neal is a nine-time 20-goal scorer.

Anaheim Ducks couldn't find room on their list to protect fifth year defenceman Sami Vatanen, who won't be ready for the start of next season after having surgery to repair a shoulder injury.

Eric Staal of the Minnesota Wild, Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings, Thomas Vanek of Florida, Bobby Ryan of Ottawa and Kris Russell of the Edmonton Oilers were among the other forwards left unprotected.

Notable goalies available to the Knights include, Philipp Grubauer of Washington, Roberto Luongo of Florida, Detroit Red Wings Petr Mrazek and Colorado's Calvin Pickard, who backstopped Canada to a silver medal last month at the World Championships.