With Expansion Draft Looming, N.H.L. Teams Try to Protect Their Own

The Tampa Bay Lightning traded Jonathan Drouin to Montreal and can thus protect another forward. The Washington Capitals acquired Tyler Graovac from Minnesota so they could meet the minimum exposure requirement and protect center Lars Eller.

“If we don’t do anything else between now and Saturday afternoon, in trading Jonathan, he would’ve required protection,” Steve Yzerman, the Lightning’s G.M., said Thursday. “It changes things, I guess, a little bit, or it makes it a little clearer as to what we’re going to do.”

Similar moves have been rumored before the league’s trade freeze goes into effect Saturday. The Wild have too many defensemen, so Jonas Brodin’s name has been bandied about in trade rumors, and the Ottawa Senators will have to do something because defenseman Dion Phaneuf has said he will not waive his no-movement clause.

“It forces us that we’re in a situation that we felt that this could happen,” said Ottawa’s G.M., Pierre Dorion. “Is it a trade? It’s a possibility. But trades are way easier talked about than to do.”

The Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins avoided making a potentially harmful trade several months ago when they asked the veteran goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury if he would waive his no-movement clause so they could protect the 23-year-old goalie Matt Murray. Fleury agreed before the March 1 trade deadline, saying it gave the team more flexibility down the stretch.

Fleury and Murray split the duties in the playoffs as the Penguins won a second straight title.

“It certainly took a lot of pressure off of the organization to not pursue a trade, and that’s really what we wanted to do,” G.M. Jim Rutherford said. “We wanted to keep both goalies. Now that we’re at the finish line, we can look back and say we’re glad we did. It certainly relieved a lot of the pressure thinking I had to get him moved so we wouldn’t get in a jam here for our list.”

The…

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