Vegas Golden Knights hold cards as NHL expansion draft nears

Vegas Golden Knights hold cards as NHL expansion draft nears

That forced the team to also expose top-pairing blueliner Marc Methot.

"That's just a way to make it easier so they would have more flexibility heading down the stretch, not having to worry about me, having to force a trade or something", Fleury said last week. McPhee can also negotiate deals with teams to not pick certain players, although there will certainly be a price tag attached.

For 72 hours, Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee is the most powerful man in hockey.

McPhee wasn't prepared to discuss individual players when specifically asked about Fleury, but noted there were no surprises based on the numerous mock drafts the Golden Knights conducted over the past few months. Each team can only lose one player.

His appeal: As they build their roster, the Knights could opt for veterans on defence such as Dan Hamhuis or Adam McQuaid or opt for younger types on cheap contracts with room to grow. But reportedly, the team could have more picks coming their way, from the Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Islanders, and Anaheim Ducks, just to not select the players the teams left unprotected.

Other notable forwards left unprotected were: Minnesota center Eric Staal, a nine-time 20-goal-scorer, Los Angeles forward Dustin Brown and Montreal's Tomas Plekanec. Some teams went four forwards, four defenseman, and one goaltender. Aside from Fleury, other goalies available are Florida's Roberto Luongo, Detroit's Petr Mrazek and Philadelphia's Michal Neuvirth.

The Golden Knights must submit their selections to the National Hockey League by 10 a.m. Wednesday, roughly 72 hours after the protected lists went public.

The Knights now have until Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET to submit their expansion draft selections and any standard player contracts that were signed.

DON'T SLEEP ON: The Golden Knights will be young, but San Jose's David Schlemko (30) and Paul Martin (36) and New Jersey's Ben Lovejoy (33) are veteran options. But it's unlikely the two would consider joining an expansion team at this point in their respective careers.

"We can put a competitive team on the ice and accumulate draft picks", McPhee said.

"That's really one of the things we wanted to leverage", Treliving said.

And with the lack of action around the league, the feeling amongst many is that these teams already have deals lined up with the Golden Knights. Several big names have come up in conversations, but it appears the teams who have unprotected players they still wish to keep are also willing to compensate Vegas to make sure they stay unclaimed.

Some players left unprotected, such as Ottawa forward Bobby Ryan, carry hefty contracts, which Vegas might shy away from so not to restrict the team's payroll structure under the salary cap. He's got one year left on his deal with a modest $1 million United States cap hit.

The expansion draft results will be announced Wednesday night at the NHL Awards show.

ROLLING THE DICE: Pending free agent Kevin Shattenkirk of the Capitals wants to be a No. 1 defenseman and could get that role in Vegas.

The new cap ceiling will be about a 2.% increase from the $73-million figure used in 2016-17.