Knights hoping draft is golden

Angie Massey
June 20, 2017

There is a temptation to say there has never been a moment quite like this before in National Hockey League history - where George McPhee, the general manager of the Vegas Golden Knights, is acting as a broker for the mixed bag of talent made available to him Sunday morning as part of the 2017 expansion draft proceedings.

The Las Vegas Golden Knights will announce their selections during the NHL Awards ceremony, which is 8 p.m. Wednesday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. That's a quality forward available for the Golden Knights if they would like to go down that route.

The Islanders had the most curious list of all - protecting five defencemen, three forwards and a goalie.

"The most fun I've ever had in hockey", McPhee said in a video posted of him driving to the team's headquarters on Sunday.

The team will put its final 30-man list together Tuesday for submission to the league office. McPhee is willing to negotiate with any and all teams willing to give up something to keep a certain player.

"We think we can accomplish two things", McPhee said. "Then we're going to go to that club and say: 'We have interest in this player, there's another club that has interest in this player".

The Florida Panthers made an interesting decision as they decided not to protect Jonathan Marchessault, who scored 30 goals for them previous year, and instead protected Nick Bjugstad.

Anaheim Ducks couldn't find room on their list to protect fifth year defenceman Sami Vatanen, who won't be ready for the start of next season after having surgery to fix a shoulder injury.

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Nobody scored more among available players than the 33-year-old Eaves, who cracked the 20-goal plateau for only the second time with 32 last season. As for defensemen, Buffalo's Zach Bogosian and Dallas' Dan Hamhuis are available. So there are definitely some great goalies available.

Several players listed - namely Barkov, Huberdeau, Trocheck, Ekblad, Petrovic, Yandle and Reimer - come as no surprise; but some fans were shocked to see forwards Jonathan Marchessault, who led team with 30 goals in 2016-17 season, or Reilly Smith, 37 points in this past season, left unprotected. Any pending free agent signed would count as Vegas expansion-draft selection from that players team.

The team must take a minimum of 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies but the requirements are much more complicated.

There is a really deep talent of players that are available from each team and there are some star-level players that teams made available. He has one year left on his contract, with a cap hit of $2.1 million.

The easiest way for the Penguins to solve their goaltending dilemma was to get Fleury to agree to waive his no-movement clause for the purposes of the expansion draft. As theres a number of top defensemen exposed such as Anaheims Sami Vatanen and Ottawas Marc Methot. Vegas is going to have to go fairly young in net, so selecting a veteran like the three-time Stanley Cup champion makes a lot of sense for the Golden Knights.

The former Capitals GM also previously signed Washington defenseman Nate Schmidt out of college and Sharks right winger Joel Ward in free agency and traded for Flames right winger Troy Brouwer.

"The last 24 hours have been similar to the last three to four days in that we are having discussions with clubs about what they want to do and how they can protect their rosters if they want to do that", McPhee said.

Fleury is very likely to be selected by the Las Vegas Knights because he has proven many times that he can be a top-flight goaltender.

Other reports by GizPress

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