List in hand, Golden Knights set to pick players for expansion roster

List in hand, Golden Knights set to pick players for expansion roster

There are some players who have been left exposed - namely Marc-Andre Fleury - who seem like locks to head to Vegas, but beyond those certain few, it doesn't seem as though McPhee is looking at many lists of unprotected players knowing full well who is coming to the Golden Knights via the expansion draft. McPhee said Sunday that a team must offer the Golden Knights an asset "better" than the player he can claim in the draft.

Any trades made by the Golden Knights won't formally be announced until Wednesday.

The list of available players to the Knights suggests that might be the case.

McPhee is making it awfully clear that he's not dead-set on what player he's going to select from any team.

Washington isn't the only team that might see a talented player plucked from its roster for nothing.

Eric Staal of the Minnesota Wild, Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings, Thomas Vanek of Florida, Bobby Ryan of Ottawa and Kris Russell of the Edmonton Oilers were among the other forwards left unprotected.

Indeed, he mentioned that the Golden Knights won't make a claim until they speak to every team.

The Islanders were the only team that protected five defensemen: Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Travis Hamonic Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech, leaving forwards Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome and defensemen Calvin de Haan and Thomas Hickey available.

Among those left unprotected, and available to the Golden Knights in the draft, were goalies Cam Ward and Eddie Lack, forwards Lee Stempniak and Joakim Nordstrom, and defenseman Klas Dahlbeck. Detroit's Petr Mrazek, once considered the top Red Wings goaltender, wasn't protected along with defenseman Xavier Ouellet, a second-round pick in 2011. Boston also elected not to protect 23-year-old goalie Malcolm Subban, a 2012 first-round draft pick. The Philadelphia Flyers didn't protect goaltender Michal Neuvirth, who the team signed to a two-year, $5 million contract extension in March. This game McPhee is trying to play turns a promising expansion draft pick into an impressive haul that could make the team more competitive sooner.

Now begins the jockeying regarding some of those top players.

When you consider side deals, the available players listed, and even the underrated route of free agency, the Vegas Golden Knights enjoy a bounty of options to lay down an impressive foundation.

Since the expansion draft started Sunday morning, McPhee has been negotiating with teams that want to protest exposed players.

As interesting as McPhee's clearly stated willingness to give additional protection for picks is that he noted another team may have interest in a player who is eligible to be taken in the expansion draft. The Golden Knights could enter the National Hockey League with a perfectly fine team, but from all indications, GM George McPhee won't be satisfied with that; he's got some dealing to do, and it'll be dealing from a position of power. "Vegas doesn't need 10".

While Fleury is the odds-on favourite to become the first goalie in Vegas Golden Knights history, it's also possible the National Hockey League newcomers could add a former Belleville Bull to their fledgling puckstopping stable.

There may be some deals that bring an NHL-ready talent to Vegas, such as the reported deal that would see a pair of Chicago Blackhawks, Marcus Kruger and Trevor van Riemsdyk, end up as Golden Knights, but the primary goal for McPhee and to use this opportunity - nearly inarguably the richest expansion draft in league history - to build for the future with picks and prospects.

Based on previous mock drafts, McPhee doesn't expect the Golden Knights to have any difficulty getting to the NHL's minimum payroll of 60 percent of the $75 million salary cap.