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Rangers don’t have deal to protect players in expansion draft

New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton and

New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton and New York Rangers Director, European Scouting Nickolai Bobrov looks on during the 2016 NHL Draft on June 25, 2016 in Buffalo, New York. Credit: Getty Images/ Bruce Bennett

On the eve of the NHL’s first expansion draft in 17 years, the Vegas Golden Knights have deals in place with at least six teams to agree to take — or not take — certain unprotected players in exchange for high draft picks or other compensation.

But as of late Tuesday, it appeared that the Rangers did not have a similar agreement with Knights general manager George McPhee, who spoke with the media on Tuesday. It is believed that the Rangers had talked with McPhee after the protection lists were released on Sunday, but a team spokesman declined to comment Tuesday.

Without any type of last-minute arrangement, the Rangers stand to lose one player on Wednesday, when Vegas submits its roster selections to the NHL — at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies.

The top Rangers candidates for being picked seem to be Michael Grabner, Antti Raanta, Oscar Lindberg and Jesper Fast, but McPhee has not tipped his hand. Although the rosters will be made public Wednesday, McPhee said Tuesday that some picks, expected to be extra defensemen, would be traded before the NHL draft begins on Friday in Chicago.

The speedy Grabner, a 29-year-old winger who scored 27 goals last season, and Raanta, a very capable backup goalie, who each have a year left on their relatively inexpensive contracts, could fit with the Knights. But they also may be valuable to other teams and be swapped for future draft picks. Lindberg and Fast, two 25-year-old Swedish forwards, also would be appealing to some teams for the right price. Defensemen Kevin Klein, who also has one year left with a salary-cap charge of $2.9 million, and Adam Clendening, a restricted free agent, also were not protected.

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