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Coburn the third defenseman on Lightning protection list

Defenseman Jake Dotchin is one of the players the Lightning left unprotected and available to Vegas for the expansion draft.
Defenseman Jake Dotchin is one of the players the Lightning left unprotected and available to Vegas for the expansion draft.
Published Jun. 18, 2017

There weren't many surprises when the Lightning's protection list was revealed Sunday, three days before the expansion draft.

Tampa Bay went with the seven forward, three defensemen, one goalie format. The forward list was predictable, as we projected in Sunday's Times, with captain Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Alex Killorn and Vladislav Namestnikov the forwards. The fact Jonathan Drouin was traded Thursday opened up a spot for both Killorn and Namestnikov.

The hardest decision likely was on defense, beyond the givens of Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman. The Lightning's pick for the final defenseman protected spot was veteran Braydon Coburn.

That left Jake Dotchin, my projected pick, as well as Jason Garrison and Slater Koekkoek unprotected and available to Vegas for the expansion draft. There's no doubt Dotchin, who impressed as a rookie, could draw interest from Vegas, who is looking to load up on defense. Koekkoek too, the former first-round pick still boasts plenty of upside.

The Coburn decision can certainly be justified, the 32-year-old defenseman still playing a key role with Tampa Bay, and his contract isn't bad ($3.7 million cap hit each of the next two years). But it certainly looks like the Lightning could lose a talented young player at a position it still is hoping to address this summer.

Keep in mind, the Lightning will only lose one player in the expansion draft. And there are some quality forwards unprotected too (Yanni Gourde, a UFA, for example). And the Lightning could still work out a side deal with Vegas to ensure a certain coveted player isn't selected.

But GM Steve Yzerman seemed wary about those kind of deals when asked Thursday.

"You measure what it's going to cost you vs the risk of losing the unknown (player)," Yzerman said. "At some point it makes sense and at some point it doesn't make sense."


Ryan Callahan (F)
Tyler Johnson (F)
Alex Killorn (F)
Nikita Kucherov (F)
Vladislav Namestnikov (F)
Ondrej Palat (F)
Steven Stamkos (F)
Braydon Coburn (D)
Victor Hedman (D)
Anton Stralman (D)
Andrei Vasilevskiy (G)

Carter Ashton (F)
Michael Bournival (F)
J.T. Brown (F)
Cory Conacher (F)
Erik Condra (F)
Gabriel Dumont (F)
Stefan Fournier (F)
Byron Froese (F)
Yanni Gourde (F)
Mike Halmo (F)
Henri Ikonen (F)
Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond (F)
Tye McGinn (F)
Greg McKegg (F)
Cedric Paquette (F)
Tanner Richard (F)
Joel Vermin (F)
Dylan Blujus (D)
Jake Dotchin (D)
Jason Garrison (D)
Slater Koekkoek (D)
Jonathan Racine (D)
Andrej Sustr (D)
Matt Taormina (D)
Luke Witkowski (D)
Peter Budaj (G)
Kristers Gudlevskis (G)
Jaroslav Janus (G)
Mike McKenna (G)