The Blue Jackets have already settled on a trade with the NHL's expansion franchise in Las Vegas, so Sunday's revelation of the Jackets' protected players -- and unprotected players -- for the expansion draft held little drama.
Forwards Cam Atkinson, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Scott Hartnell, Boone Jenner, Brandon Saad and Alexander Wennberg are officially off-limits to the Vegas Golden Knights in Wednesday's draft. So are defensemen Jack Johnson, Seth Jones and David Savard and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky.
It's all a formality, though, because the Blue Jackets have reached a trade agreement to keep Vegas from poaching its defense or from nabbing two of its brightest young talents, right wing Josh Anderson and backup goaltender Joonas Korpisalo.
The Golden Knights have agreed to not take those players. They've also agreed to not take Johnson, who was the most prominent veteran player left unprotected by Columbus.
The price for allowing Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen to "steer" Las Vegas GM George Phee toward taking left wing Matt Calvert or center William Karlsson will be wince-worthy: the Jackets' first-round pick (No. 24 overall) this week in Chicago along with a prospect (not forwards Sonny Milano or Pierre-Luc Dubois).
It's a steep price, but one wonders if Kekalainen and Co. won't fare better by having a deal in place before the protected lists were settled. A handful of other clubs might be desperate now to make similar deals, but have fewer options should Vegas not agree.
An NHL roster freeze is in effect until Thursday unless a team is dealing with Vegas, and McPhee put forth an ominous statement shortly after the lists were published Sunday morning.
"You can negotiate your way out of this if you wish," McPhee's statement read. "Every team in this league has a chance to protect their roster."
The Golden Knights are expected to be seeking prospects and high draft picks if a club wants to shield certain players. They must take one player -- and one only -- from each NHL team.
Reports indicate that Anaheim and the New York Islanders might have trades in place with Vegas, but Minnesota might be the most desperate club to make a deal before Wednesday.
The Wild exposed center Eric Staal, a 28-goal scorer last season, as well as two strong defensemen, veteran Marco Scandella and 22-year-old Matt Dumba.
Among the top players left unprotected are Nashville forward James Neal, Detroit goaltender Petr Mrazek, Florida forward Jonathan Marchessault and Ottawa forward Bobby Ryan.
These players, and many others, could be caught in third-party poaching. That is, Vegas can make deals with their current clubs, or they can draft the player Wednesday and trade them to other clubs for a big return.
McPhee told media that he'd already had calls from GMs across the league once they'd seen the lists Sunday.
Other tidbits revealed Sunday:
Twenty-three of 30 teams opted to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender, rather than the eight players (regardless of position) and a goaltender.
Six clubs protected four defensemen. Only the Islanders protected five.
Only two players, Pittsburgh goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and Winnipeg defenseman Tobias Enstrom, waived no-move clauses in their contracts for purposes of the expansion draft.
The NHL salary cap will be $75 million per club for the 2017-18 season, with a salary floor of $55.4 million. The cap was $73 million in 2016-17.