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Marchessault’s ‘esteem took a hit’ after being unprotected

Montreal Canadiens v Florida Panthers

SUNRISE, FL - DECEMBER 29: Jonathan Marchessault #81 of the Florida Panthers passes during a game against the Montreal Canadiens at BB&T Center on December 29, 2016 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

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Jonathan Marchessault broke out last season, reaching the 30-goal plateau for the Florida Panthers -- all while on a very affordable contract that still has one more year remaining.

This week, well, he could become a member of the Vegas Golden Knights.

The 26-year-old forward was left unprotected by the Panthers, which was among the surprises when all the available/protected lists were made public on Sunday.

You can count Marchessault as one of those caught off guard by the decision.

“My esteem took a hit, but it’s not like I had a bad season,” he told TVA Sports, according to a translation. “My agent told me that there are a few options including one where the Panthers asked the Golden Knights not to take me in exchange for a draft pick.”

Read more: What’s the biggest surprise from available/protected expansion draft lists?

Vegas general manager George McPhee has offered other GMs the chance to negotiate deals in order to keep certain players teams have left unprotected but do not wish to part ways with. However, he said that Monday was the last day teams had to trade with the Golden Knights before the expansion draft.

The Panthers also left Reilly Smith and Jason Demers exposed for the draft.

Related: Welcome Jonathan Marchessault to the trade rumor mill