Nearly one year after the NHL awarded Las Vegas an NHL franchise, the Golden Knights finally got a chance to complete their roster. But general manager George McPhee had his eye set on the future and stockpiled draft picks during the expansion draft.
With every NHL team allowed to protect as many as 11 players in the expansion draft, Las Vegas had its choice of solid players from each team. But the fear of losing a key player led a few teams to hand Vegas future assets – the most important part of the Golden Knights’ expansion draft. And that wasn’t lost on McPhee’s rival general managers.
“They’re way past getting off the ground. I think this is by far the best expansion team ever,” said David Poile, Nashville general manager.
Overall the Golden Knights came away with eight more draft picks than they started with, including two more first round picks in 2017. The Golden Knights hold three of the top 15 draft picks in Friday’s entry draft. One of the largest hauls came from the New York Islanders. The Golden Knights came away with three players and two draft picks.
Las Vegas selected the Islanders’ third goalie Jean-Francois Berube and were traded Mikhail Grabovski and his $5 million cap hit. In return, the Islanders sent the Golden Knights a massive prize in their 2017 first round pick (#15 overall), 2019 second round pick and 22-year-old defenseman Jake Bischoff.
Beyond draft picks, Las Vegas walked away with a few promising young players as well. The top prospect that the Golden Knights received came from Anaheim, California in Shea Theodore. The Ducks had one of the most appetizing lists of exposed players in Sami Vatanen and Josh Mason, but instead of selecting one of those two, McPhee took 32-year-old Clayton Stoner and was rewarded with Theodore as a prize.
Most of the players selected today won’t be a part of the franchise in a few years, but the draft picks and prospects will. The Golden Knights aren’t likely to push for a playoff spot in year one, but all of the future assets will set Las Vegas up for a bright future.
Face Of The Franchise
There is a new state flower in the state of Nevada: Marc-Andre Fleury. Las Vegas selected Fleury from Pittsburgh in the expansion draft, and while Fleury will downplay the idea of being the face of the franchise, he was the star of the expansion draft.
“I’m not going to be the face of much. I just want to come and play hockey,” Fleury said. “Obviously we have great fans already, having sold out the season tickets and the reception I got tonight. I’ll give everything I got to win some games here.”
The 13-year veteran has been a part of three Stanley Cup winning teams in Pittsburgh. He posted at least 30 wins in seven of the last nine seasons.
With Fleury in net, Las Vegas will have a chance to win regardless of how much talent is in front of him. And the players selected with Fleury know the star power they will have in the crease.
“I think we’re going to be competitive,” said Brayden McNabb, Las Vegas’ selection from the Los Angeles Kings. “We’ve got great goaltending, so it starts there.”
Along with Fleury and McNabb,
Deryk Engelland (from Calgary) and Jason Garrison (from Tampa Bay) were introduced on stage wearing a Golden Knights jersey.
There will likely be a tremendous amount of trades in the next 48 hours, as the Golden Knights have 15 defensemen. NHL teams usually use six or seven defensemen in a game.
While it is no guarantee which players will avoid McPhee’s trades, Fleury, McNabb, Engelland and Garrison are among the safest bets to take the ice in game one in a Golden Knights jersey.
First Three Games Announced
The full NHL schedule will be announced tomorrow at noon. But we know the first three Golden Knights’ games.
Las Vegas will open its first season on the road with back to games in Dallas on October 6th and Arizona on October 7th. The first home game in T-Mobile Arena will be on October 10th against the Arizona Coyotes.
Full List Of The Expansion Draft
Anaheim Ducks – Clayton Stoner
Defensemen | 32 years old | $3.25 million cap hit through 2017-18
Arizona Coyotes – Teemu Pulkkinen
Left Winger | 25 years old | Restricted Free Agent
Boston Bruins – Colin Miller
Defensemen | 23 years old | $1 million cap hit through 2017-18
Buffalo Sabres – William Carrier
Left Winger | 22 years old | $689,167 cap hit through 2017-18
Calgary Flames – Deryk Engelland
Defensemen | 35 years old | Unrestricted Free Agent
Carolina Hurricanes – Connor Brickley
Center | 25 years old | Unrestricted Free Agent
Chicago Blackhawks – Trevor van Riemsdyk
Defensemen | 25 years old | $825,000 cap hit through 2017-18
Colorado Avalanche – Calvin Pickard
Goalie | 25 years old | $1 million through 2017-18
Columbus Blue Jackets – William Karlsson
Center | 24 years old | $1 million cap hit through 2017-18
Dallas Stars – Cody Eakin
Center | 26 years old | $3.85 million cap hit through 2019-20
Detroit Red Wings – Tomas Nosek
Left Wing | 24 years old | $612,500 cap hit through 2017-18
Edmonton Oilers – Griffin Reinhart
Defensemen | 23 years old | Restricted Free Agents
Florida Panthers – Jonathan Marchessault
Center | 26 years old | $750,000 cap hit through 2017-8
Los Angeles Kings – Brayden McNabb
Defensemen | 26 years old | $1.7 million through 2017-18
Minnesota Wild – Erik Haula
Left Wing | 26 years old | Restricted Free Agent
Montreal Canadiens – Alexei Emelin
Defensemen | 31 years old | $4.1 million cap hit through 2017-18
Nashville Predators – James Neal
Right Wing | 29 years old | $5 million cap hit through 2017-18
New Jersey Devils – Jon Merrill
Defensemen | 25 years old | $1.14 million cap hit through 2017-18
New York Islanders – Jean-Francois Berube
Goalie | 25 years old | Unrestricted Free Agent
New York Rangers – Oscar Lindberg
Center | 25 years old | Restricted Free Agent
Ottawa Senators – Marc Methot
Defensemen | 32 years old | $4.9 million cap hit through 2018-19
Philadelphia Flyers – Pierre-Eduoard Bellemare
Left Wing | 32 years old | $1.45 million cap hit through 2018-19
Pittsburgh Penguins – Marc-Andre Fleury
Goalie | 32 years old | $5.75 million cap hit through 2018-19
San Jose Sharks – David Schlemko
Defensemen | 30 years old | $2.1 million cap hit through 2019-20
St Louis Blues – David Perron
Winger | 29 years old | $3.75 million cap hit through 2017-18
Tampa Bay Lightning – Jason Garrison
Defense | 32 years old | $4.6 million cap hit through 2017-18
Toronto Maple Leafs – Brendan Leipsic
Left Wing | 23 years old | Restricted Free Agent
Vancouver Canucks – Luca Sbisa
Defensemen | 27 years old | $3.6 million cap hit through 2017-18
Washington Capitals – Nate Schmidt
Defensemen | 25 years old | Restricted Free Agent
Winnipeg Jets – Chris Thorburn
Winger | 34 years old | Unrestricted Free Agent
Anaheim Ducks – Vegas Golden Knights acquire defenseman Shea Theodore.
Buffalo Sabres – Vegas Golden Knights acquire Buffalo’s 2017 sixth round draft pick.
Carolina Hurricanes – Vegas Golden Knights acquire Boston’s 2017 fifth round draft pick (previously acquired by Carolina).
Columbus Blue Jackets – Vegas Golden Knights acquire Columbus’ 2017 first round draft pick, Columbus’ 2019 second round draft pick and forward David Clarkson.
Florida Panthers – Vegas Golden Knights acquire forward Reilly Smith in exchange for Las Vegas’ 2018 fourth round draft pick.
Minnesota Wild – Vegas Golden Knights acquire forward Alex Tuch in exchange for a conditional third round draft pick in either the 2017 or 2018 draft.
New York Islanders – Vegas Golden Knights acquire Jake Bischoff, Mikhail Grabovski, New York’s 2017 first round draft pick and New York’s 2019 second round draft pick.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Vegas Golden Knights acquire Pittsburgh’s 2020 second round draft pick.
Tampa Bay Lightning – Vegas Golden Knights acquire Tampa Bay’s 2017 second round draft pick, Pittsburgh’s 2018 fourth round draft pick (previously acquired by Tampa Bay) and the rights to Nikita Gusev.
Winnipeg Jets – Vegas Golden Knights acquire Winnipeg’s first round draft pick in 2017 and Winnipeg’s third round draft pick in 2019 in exchange for Columbus’ 2017 first round draft pick.