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updated: 6/19/2017 7:42 AM

Blackhawks release their protected list for expansion draft

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  • The Chicago Blackhawks did not protect young defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk in the expansion draft, which means he likely will be selected by the Vegas Golden Knights.

    The Chicago Blackhawks did not protect young defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk in the expansion draft, which means he likely will be selected by the Vegas Golden Knights.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer/file

 
 

Let the off-season officially begin.

From a roster standpoint, the Blackhawks took care of their first order of business by protecting 11 players from Vegas in the expansion draft, which will take place Thursday.

Vegas will not be able to select forwards Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Artem Anisimov, Richard Panik, Ryan Hartman and Tomas Jurco, defensemen Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith and Niklas Hjalmarsson, and goalie Corey Crawford. Players such as Artemi Panarin, Nick Schmaltz and Tanner Kero did not need to be protected because they are first- or second-year players.

Except for the Vegar roster, all NHL rosters are frozen until Thursday at 7 a.m. CDT.

TSN has reported that Vegas will likely take defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk in the expansion draft and trade for forward Marcus Kruger, who carries a $3.08 million cap hit.

Nothing is set in stone, but moving Kruger is critical because, according to capfriendly.com, the Hawks are about $2.5 million over next year's cap, which was set at $75 million on Sunday.

The Hawks took the 27-year-old Kruger in the fifth round of the 2009 draft. He has just 33 goals in 398 games, but the bottom-six center has proved invaluable on the penalty kill, and he won't be easily replaced in that capacity.

Kruger said he "of course" wanted to stay with the Hawks when the team met the media for the last time on April 22 after being eliminated from the playoffs.

"There's going to be a lot of stuff happening in the summer," Kruger said. "We all know that. But nothing I can do anything about right now, so haven't really thought about it yet."

The undrafted van Riemsdyk made the team out of camp in the 2014-15 season. The New Jersey native appeared in just 18 regular-season games with that title team, but he did play in Games 3-6 in the Stanley Cup Final and proceeded to appear in 140 games the next two seasons.

Despite some occasional lapses, coach Joel Quenneville liked van Riemsdyk's game -- one that seemed to be rounding into form last season.

The soon-to-be 26-year-old echoed Kruger's thoughts about wanting to remain in Chicago.

"Chicago has been an awesome place for me," he said. "I owe them a lot. They've helped me so much along the way from when I first go there to now, being able to learn from this coaching staff, all these guys in the locker room.

"I've been extremely, extremely fortunate to be in the situation I am. I know how lucky I am to be a part of this amazing organization."

As for the Golden Knights, they will select one player from each NHL team. They must take at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies, and also select at least 20 players who are under contract next season.

The selections will be announced at 7 p.m. Thursday during the NHL Awards Show on NHL Network.

• Twitter@johndietzdh

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