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Colorado Avalanche release surprising protection list ahead of expansion draft

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Joe Sakic has made it clear he wants Seattle to help the Avalanche clear salary cap space

Vegas Golden Knights v Colorado Avalanche - Game Five Photo by Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

Lists have been submitted, players informed and the Colorado Avalanche have made some choices. According to Peter Baugh of The Athletic, the protection list for the Avalanche is:

Nathan Mackinnon

Mikko Rantanen

Andre Burakovsky

Nazem Kadri

Tyson Jost

Logan O’Connor

Valeri Nichuskin

Cale Makar (RFA)

Devon Toews

Sam Girard

Philipp Grubauer (UFA)

That leaves J.T. Compher, Jonas Donskoi, Jacob MacDonald, Erik Johnson, Brandon Saad (UFA) and most noticeably, Grabriel Landeskog (UFA) available to the Seattle Kraken.

This is a bold move by Sakic. It also could be a very smart one, with negotiations with Landeskog rumored not to be going as well as expected. This will either prove Colorado’s camp right or it will prove Landeskogs camp right in his rumored asking price. Either way, it is disappointing it has come to this for the Avalanche capitan.

Protecting Logan O’Connor over Donskoi and Compher is a money move. They have a cap hit of $3.9 million and $3.5 million, respectively. They moved Ryan Graves and his $3.1 million cap to New Jersey earlier this week and are hoping Seattle takes another $3-plus million contract off of the books in a few days.

One other surprise is that the Avalanche used their one goalie protection spot on Philipp Grubauer. This points to the team believing they have a realistic chance of re-signing their starting goalie before he hits the open market on July 28.

Grubauer is one of only two pending UFAs (Linus Ullmark in Buffalo being the other) who were protected in the expansion draft.

With only a few days left before the Seattle Kraken build their team through the expansion draft, a number of questions still exist — both league wide and with the Avs in particular.

One thing is certain: The time to start really wondering about a future without Landeskog in an Avalanche sweater is becoming very real.