The first expansion draft in the salary-cap era has even the most seasoned NHL general managers unsure of what is going to happen over the next few weeks.

“You expect the unexpected,” Toronto Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello said.

The most unpredictable and fascinating offseason in more than a decade has arrived. Uncertainty runs from the Vegas Golden Knights’ expansion draft next week through the New Jersey Devils’ decision with the top pick in the entry draft to a free-agent market that hinges significantly on how much the salary cap goes up – if at all.

Trades could be coming fast and furious as Vegas GM George McPhee stockpiles assets in exchange for agreeing to select or not select players in the June 21 expansion draft. Teams have to decide who to protect – seven forwards, three defenseman and a goaltender or eight skaters at any position and a goaltender – and there should be some roster juggling around the league before protected lists must be submitted Saturday afternoon.

“I expect something to transpire and the expansions that I’ve been through in the past, it certainly does,” Lamoriello said. “When there are decisions that have to be made, you’d rather make them proactive rather than reactive. People are going to be trying to do things, whether they have one too many defensemen or whether they have one too many forwards or whether they have needs that they could possibly correct by taking a surplus off somebody else.”

McPhee said he believes the expansion draft will be more productive for the franchise’s future than he first thought.

“There are teams that really want to protect some people and protect their rosters and they are willing to pay a pretty fair price to get us to lay off certain people and go in a different direction,” he said. “So in those instances we’ll be able to get young players or some draft picks that will help us down the road.”

Once all 30 protected lists are revealed on Sunday, Vegas has a 72-hour window to negotiate with any unprotected restricted or unrestricted free agents and make its selections, which will be announced June 21. McPhee wields a lot of power because of that, and it’s fair to wonder how he’ll put together an expansion roster from scratch.

The entire NHL is going to have to react to what Vegas does and to the salary cap, which could remain flat at this past season’s $73 million or go up, perhaps to $77 million, depending on whether players elect to use their escalator clause to increase it by up to 5 percent. That’s a complicated issue and there is no guarantee players raise the cap as much as possible this time around, especially with a new team coming in.

That could alter free agency, which begins July 1.

PANTHERS: Bob Boughner is the new coach in Florida.

He spent the last two seasons as an assistant in San Jose under former Panthers coach Peter DeBoer. Boughner also was an assistant with Columbus in the 2010-11 season.

COYOTES: Andrew Barroway is now sole owner, a move the NHL hopes will help the team secure a foothold in Arizona.

Barroway bought out the Coyotes’ minority owners, according to a source. Amid continued questions about the Coyotes’ arena situation, the source said Barroway is committed to keeping the Coyotes in the area.

The Coyotes have been in a dispute with the city of Glendale over Gila River Arena and are looking for a permanent home in the Phoenix metropolitan area.