Why protected player lists should be made public before the June expansion draft

Teams can only protect one goaltender in the expansion draft -- which means veteran Marc-Andre Fleury might be the odd man out for the Penguins. Jeanine Leech/Icon Sportswire

Fans have a seemingly insatiable appetite for expansion draft news.

They can't get enough of details about the June 21 draft, during which the league's newest franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights, will build a roster comprised mainly of players selected from other franchises. Each current team will create a protected list of players Vegas cannot select.

Mock expansion drafts, projected protected lists, which players can be exposed or are exempt? You name it, and NHL fans are all over it.

So the reaction on Twitter last Wednesday when I relayed the info, after the GMs meeting wrapped up, that the league was leaning toward not making the protected lists public before the draft wasn't surprising. Many fans -- and some fellow media members, for that matter -- were disappointed, even outraged.

Many media colleagues stated (rightly, I think) that the league would be losing out on a great opportunity to get even more buzz from the event, during which the Vegas team will announce its roster picks. The question is whether fans will know beforehand which players from each team are eligible to be drafted by the Golden Knights.

The league felt out team GMs last week on the matter and found that a fair number of them feel that their protected lists should be not be made public.

Not all of them feel that way. One GM told ESPN.com he thought the room was close to being split. But even that number gives the league pause.

Two GMs I've spoken with since then insist that they're fine with the lists being made public. NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said via email on Tuesday that the issue is still being discussed.

"We haven't made a final decision yet on what public access we may make available to the protected and available lists," Daly said. "The managers have expressed a preference for maintaining the confidentiality of that information. We will make a final decision in due time. There is no rush here."

No doubt the league is aware that fans are eager for the information. But if the majority of clubs do indeed want confidentiality for the protective lists, the league may decide that's the route to go.

Perhaps even more intriguing to me is the possibility -- which another GM alerted me to on Monday -- that the protected lists might also not be shared among teams before the draft, meaning they would be shut out just like the rest of us.

The issue here, I think, is that some GMs are hesitant to let everyone else in the league see how they are ranking or otherwise valuing their own players.

I would argue that they already do show their cards when they reveal how they compensate the players in terms of salary. But I suppose that, if lower-paid players end up getting protected over higher-paid players in some cases, teams might not want that kind of naked truth being blatantly blasted out there for posterity.

Perhaps the information could affect future trade negotiations, if a team now knows how a competitor truly feels about a certain player its trying to move?

One GM told ESPN.com on Monday that if all the protected lists aren't shared among teams, "I think that's an advantage for Vegas. They'd be the only team with all the info.''

Again, let me stress, this remains a fluid situation. As Daly said, no final decision has been made by the league on the matter.

I reached out to the NHL Players' Association to see how it felt felt about the protective lists being made public or not.

"This is something the league and the NHLPA will be discussing in advance of the June expansion draft,'' NHLPA senior spokesman Jonathan Weatherdon said on Tuesday, not adding any further details.

In the end, much of the protected list news will get out to the media anyway, since most teams will inform their players and/or their agents if they're being protected or not.

But it's going to get leaked haphazardly via different sources, so we'll be left to assemble the overall puzzle over the 48 hours leading up to the expansion draft.

Will it be fun? Sure. I can't wait to dig in on that challenge. But I think it's clear what fans want -- all the details on all 30 protected lists blasted out in one clean, official fashion. Will they get it? Stay tuned.