NHL expansion draft: Five big names available to Vegas Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights are on the clock as they assemble a team for their inaugural season in 2017-18.

Other NHL teams' lists of protected and unprotected players were revealed Sunday morning, three days before the league's new franchise is set to announce its expansion draft picks.

Setting aside the most prized of pending free agents, who can also be claimed by the Golden Knights in the next 72 hours, the list of available players features a handful of big names:

Marc-Andre Fleury

An inevitable possibility for Vegas after waiving the no-movement clause in his contract, the Pittsburgh Penguins goalie has long been projected to land with the Golden Knights -- and rightfully so.

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Marc-Andre Fleury is available for the Vegas Golden Knights in this week's expansion draft. USATSI

The Pens wanted to keep Matt Murray , and now Fleury could resume No. 1 backstopping duties with a new-market team looking to make a splash. He's got the stuff to be "the guy" in the net right out of the gate.

James Neal

Like Fleury, Neal could be part of a sudden transition from Stanley Cup Final contender to expansion-team asset. His name is notable in part because his Nashville Predators teammate Colton Sissons also made it onto his team's unprotected list, leaving Vegas with a potential choice between the two forwards. Throw in Pontus Aberg and all of a sudden the Golden Knights have a crack at three different goal-scoring options from this year's runners-up.

Jonathan Marchessault

A bargain possibility with underrated upside, Marchessault was the Florida Panthers ' headliner in 2016-17, tallying 30 goals in a 75-game breakout season.

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Jonathan Marchessault was left exposed by the Florida Panthers despite a breakout 2016-17. USATSI

Somehow he's up for grabs. Vegas may have the steal of the expansion draft just waiting to be embraced in Marchessault, who could still have immense trade value considering his youth, contract and surge in production.

Eric Staal

With Jason Zucker sticking around for now, the Minnesota Wild opted to expose Staal to Vegas. So the Golden Knights will have a shot at landing another aging, albeit productive, goal scorer. The 32-year-old Staal appeared in all 82 games in 2016-17, the first time he's done that in six years, and went over 20 goals for the ninth time in his career. His salary isn't outrageous for what he's doing at center, either.

Bobby Ryan

Three years removed from a lucrative $50-million contract, the Ottawa Senators forward headlines the big-money curiosities that Vegas could absorb.

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Bobby Ryan's hefty contract could keep him from drawing too much interest from the Golden Knights. USATSI

Much like soon-to-be free agents such as T.J. Oshie and Kevin Shattenkirk , Ryan's contract probably stands most in the way of an expansion-draft acquisition. But the Sens winger followed up an underwhelming 2016-17 regular season with a hot streak in the playoffs and still owns a notable resume.

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