Jonathan Marchessault put together the best season of his career this year and led the Florida Panthers with 30 goals in 75 games.

After a breakout campaign, the 26-year-old had figured he would be a part of the Panthers' future, and therefore protected in the Vegas expansion draft. However, when the expansion lists were revealed on Sunday, Marchessault was left exposed.

“Yes, I’m surprised not to have been protected,” Marchessault told 91.9 Sports in Montreal, per the Florida Sun Sentinel. “I thought I was part of (the plan) for the Panthers.”

The Panthers opted to choose the eight skaters and one goaltender protection format, keeping defencemen Aaron Ekblad, Keith Yandle, Alex Petrovic and Mark Pysyk protected. Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, Jonathan Huberdeau and Vincent Trocheck then occupied the remaining the four spots, with James Reimer filling the goaltender position.

Trocheck, 23, and Barkov, 21, were the lone Panthers to outscore Marchessault this season, posting 54 and 52 points, respectively, to Marchessault's 51 points.

Selecting Marchessault would be of little risk to the Golden Knights, since the Panthers signed him to a bargain two-year, $1.5 million last July after he scored just seven goals in 45 games the previous season. 

TSN Hockey Insider Pierre LeBrun reported Sunday the Panthers had tried to make a deal with Vegas to keep them from selecting certain players, likely Marchessault, but had not been able to. It's unclear whether a deal was made before Monday's deadline.

Both Frank Seravalli and Craig Button placed Marchessault on their projected Golden Knights rosters.

Other key players exposed by the Panthers include 26-year-old Reilly Smith, who scored 25 goals in 2015-16, and defenceman Jason Demers, who signed a five-year $22.5 million contract with the team last July.

General manager George McPhee said Monday he would select the Golden Knights roster on Tuesday.