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Three local NHLers made available for expansion draft

Staff and wire reports
June 18. 2017 9:08PM
From left, Merrimack's Tim Schaller, Derry's Paul Thompson, and Orford's Ben Lovejoy have all been made available for the NHL expansion draft. 

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, a three-time Stanley Cup champion, was among the high-profile players left unprotected and available for the Vegas Golden Knights to select in the expansion draft.

The NHL announced the available and protected lists for the 30 teams that will provide players to the Golden Knights in the draft, which will be announced on Wednesday night.

Three of the four New Hampshire NHL players will be made available: Merrimack’s Tim Schaller of the Boston Bruins, Derry’s Paul Thompson of the Florida Panthers and Orford’s Ben Lovejoy of the New Jersey Devils. Manchester’s Zach Sanford of the St. Louis Blues is exempt because he has two or fewer years of professional hockey experience. Sanford started his pro career last season.

After Fleury agreed to waive the no-movement clause in his contract, the Penguins protected goaltender Matt Murray, who led the team a week ago to its second consecutive championship.

The Golden Knights will select 30 players — one from each NHL club.

Nashville Predators forward James Neal and Anaheim Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen also were left unprotected.

The Predators elected to protect a fourth defenseman that exposed Neal, a nine-time 20-goal-scorer, including 23 this past season.

Vatanen, a fifth-year player, won’t be ready for the start of next season after having surgery to repair a shoulder injury.

Eric Staal of the Minnesota Wild, former Manchester Monarch Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings, Carolina goalie Cam Ward and former UNH star Trevor Van Riemsdyk of the Chicago Blackhawks were among the other players left unprotected.

Bruins’ protected players

David Backes (F); Patrice Bergeron (F); David Krejci (F); Brad Marchand (F); Riley Nash (F); David Pastrnak (F); Ryan Spooner (F); Zdeno Chara (D); Torey Krug (D); Kevan Miller (D); Tuukka Rask (G)

Bruins’ available players

Matt Beleskey (F); Brian Ferlin (F); Jimmy Hayes (F); Alex Khokhlachev (F); Dominic Moore (F); Tyler Randell (F); Zac Rinaldo (F); Tim Schaller (F); Drew Stafford (F); Linus Arnesson (D); Chris Casto (D); Tommy Cross (D); Alex Grant (D); John-Michael Liles (D); Adam McQuaid (D); Colin Miller (D); Joe Morrow (D); Anton Khudobin (G); Malcolm Subban (G)