Players who have earned a spot on protection lists

With 45 points this season, Wild forward Jason Zucker is making the team's decision on whether to protect him for the expansion draft a difficult one. David Berding/Icon Sportswire

There are two ways to look at each NHL team’s allotment of protected slots heading into the expansion draft for the Vegas Golden Knights. One, it’s a way to protect assets. General managers won’t want to lose valuable players, and the ability to protect seven forwards and three defensemen or eight skaters to go with their goalie allows them to avoid it.

Then there’s the less-thought-of way to look at a protected slot: They are assets in and of themselves.

According to an NHL source, at least one NHL team has approached the league about trading their protected slots, like they might trade a draft pick or prospect.

For example, let’s say the Minnesota Wild fear losing Matt Dumba in the expansion draft. They could, in theory, trade a draft pick or other asset to a team in return for a expansion draft protected slot, allowing them to protect one more player.