June 21, 2017 by scia9
(Courtesy of nhl.com)
Written by Andrew Sciascia
Tonight, the old saying dies. What happens at 8pm Eastern in Las Vegas tonight will most definitely not be staying in Vegas.
Ready or not, the Vegas Golden Knights are honored to draft the majority of their squad as the 31st franchise in today’s NHL. Reid Duke is about to have a lot more people to play sports with. With the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft just hours away, let’s talk turkey.
Sure, the list of unprotected athletes the Knights can select tomorrow night is loaded with more studs than the denim jacket on a teenager going through their rebellious phase, but it’s time for someone to break it to you. There are rules to this thing. The Expansion Draft isn’t a mad dash for Knights’ management to scoop every hot topic off the board.
In an effort to allow for fair expansion, in which the new franchises wouldn’t be so stocked with bums they’d only win a handful of games, the NHL has created a fairly straight forward drafting process for new rosters.
The Golden Knights will select 1 player from each of the 30 NHL franchises. Of these 30 players, 20 must be under contract for the coming 2017-18 season. They will select 14 forwards, 9 defensemen and 3 net-minders. The last stipulation is that by the time all is said and done they must have eaten salary cap space greater than or equal to 60% of the 75-million-dollar cap (approx. $45,000,000).
As for the rest of the league. Each of the 30 pre-existing franchises may protect players their best and brightest. They may protect 9-11 players depending upon their needs. They may protect 7 forwards, 3 defensemen and a goalie or 8 skaters and a goalie. Meaning that, should a team want to defend more than 3 defensemen, they may; at the expense of 2 skaters. Remaining athletes are exposed to Vegas.
(Courtesy of Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
With the rules covered, let’s talk about tonight.
With Protection Lists made public Saturday, Knights’ management and the pundits have had plenty of time to think things through. Below is my take on the most skilled team Sin City can steal. I mean “draft”.
The team below would take up just under 50-million-dollars before contracting the unsigned (approximately 65% of their available cap room). Bear in mind, also, that I took all back-room-deal rumors with a grain of sand; instead leaning on best possible, reasonable selections. Every selection is not going to come with commentary. If they don’t, assume that they’re depth, fresh legs or decent minor-leaguers.
Anaheim Ducks – Sami Vatanen – D – $4,875,000
At 26, with 3 years left of his contract, it’s been floated around the league that Anaheim may be looking to deal Vegas some big assets to keep their paws off. But this offensive-defenseman would be a top six lock, and defense keeps the lights on. Especially for a young franchise.
Arizona Coyotes – Alexander Burmistrov – C – Unsigned
Lots of Russians on this list, but Shipachyov is going to need friends, right?
Boston Bruins – John-Michael Liles – D – Unsigned
Guy’s a veteran defenseman and play-maker. Plus look at the bums Boston has lined up in the unprotected list. I wouldn’t want anyone else.
Buffalo Sabres – William Carrier – LW – $750,000
Calgary Flames – Alex Chiasson – RW – Unsigned
He’s moved around plenty in his short career. What’s one more move? Sin City could use a young forward that can provide size, clog the lanes and play the team game.
Carolina Hurricanes – Lee Stempniak – RW – $2,500,000
A veteran with a history of playing support roles on growing squads and the ability to put up points is just what the doctor ordered for the Knights’ depth.
Chicago Blackhawks – Trevor van Riemsdyk – D – $825,000
Young, offensively minded and defensively skilled. Three things Vegas is going to need. I haven’t seen a mock draft without TVR in Sin City.
(Courtesy of Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Colorado Avalanche – Mikhail Grigorenko – C – Unsigned
Depth is about as much as Vegas is getting out of this team, they barely have depth in their protection list.
Columbus Blue Jackets – William Karlsson – C – $1,000,000
Dallas Stars – Cody Eakin – C – $3,850,000
A weak showing last season sees Cody on the block with Dallas, but Vegas can’t go wrong with lots of young shooters.
Detroit Red Wings – Petr Mrazek – G – $4,000,000
In a shocking turn of events the Wings protected aging legend Jimmy Howard instead of this young wall. This list has several starting-caliber tendies, but this guy doubles as a strong trade asset should Fleury start with another less expensive tender in the 2nd string.
Edmonton Oilers – Griffin Reinhart – D – Unsigned
Florida Panthers – Thomas Vanek – LW – Unsigned
His Unrestricted Free Agent status makes this Bruin-killer a tough sell, as upon drafting Vegas would have just 72-hours to come to an agreement before he could walk off to deal around the league. But after years of participating on less-than-competitive teams, I think Vanek could see the potential in this new franchise.
Los Angeles Kings – Zach Trotman – D – Unsigned
Minnesota Wild – Matthew Dumba – D – $2,550,000
Montreal Canadiens – Alexander Radulov – RW – Unsigned
From Russia with Studs. Could Vegas go wrong with a scorer that’s got plenty of grit? I’ll let you answer that.
Nashville Predator – James Neal – RW – $5,000,000
A veteran two-forward that puts pucks on net and bodies on bodies? Who wouldn’t want a fresh start after taking a waxing in the Stanley Cup Finals? After that car-wash of a series with Pittsburgh, I think Neal will come running to Vegas like an old flame.
New Jersey Devils – Jon Merrill – D – $1,137,500
New York Islanders – Dennis Seidenberg – D – $1,250,000
Ex-Bruin Dennis Seidenberg is a talented, hard-hitting defensive defenseman. He may be coming to the end of his days in the show, but don’t count out this grizzled veteran.
New York Rangers – Antti Raanta – G – $1,000,000
A cheap, skilled goaltender that could see 3rd, even 2nd string, play.
Ottawa Senators – Bobby Ryan – RW – $7,250,000
He’s a stud. All there is to it. In ten seasons, with over 1,700 shots on goal, he shoots nearly 13%. The only possible explanation for him going into the draft unprotected is a salary cap dump for Ottawa. Still young, Vegas would be insane not to build around this guy.
Philadelphia Flyers – Michal Neuvirth – G – $4,000,000
The league was ablaze over his sudden collapse, but all statements indicate his health is no-longer in question. Doubling as a trade asset or strong 2nd string goaltender, he’s an obvious pick.
Pittsburgh Penguins – Marc-Andre Fleury – G – $5,250,000
Matt Murray may have stepped up to play hero in this year’s Stanley Cup run, but at 32 the Fleury era is far from over. In fact, if you thought it was you need to see a healthcare professional. This guy is a lock; starting lineup.
(Courtesy of Reboot Hockey)
St. Louis Blues – Carl Gunnarsson – D – $2,250,000
San Jose Sharks – David Schlemko – D – $2,100,000
Tampa Bay Lightning – J.T. Brown – RW – $1,250,000
Toronto Maple Leafs – Kerby Rychel – LW – $800,000
One of the leading point-scorers in the AHL last season, this is the type of something-to-prove player who will look good in gold.
Vancouver Canucks – Brendan Guance – C – Unsigned
Another team Vegas may have actually been better off if they’d been able to avoid drafting from. The Canucks have little to offer. He may not even make the final roster, but he’s a young forward with some weight to throw around.
Washington Capitals – T.J. Oshie – RW – Unsigned
Once again we have a player the pundits don’t want to claim for the Knights as his Unrestricted Free Agent status gives Vegas a mere 72-hours to come to an agreement before he can sign with other teams. Sure, he may want to return to a competitive Washington Capitals, but if Vegas didn’t try to obtain this Olympic star they aren’t ready for the league.
(Courtesy of Caps Outsider)
Winnipeg Jets – Marko Dano – C – $850,000