Wednesday night’s expansion draft could be a launching pad for the Vegas Golden Knights to be one of the most competitive expansion teams in NHL history.
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(Photo: Charles LeClaire, USA TODAY Sports)
As you read this, Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee might be making a trade in advance of Wednesday’s expansion draft.
It could be an agreement to not select a player who was left unprotected by another team. Or it could be a deal in which McPhee agrees to a take a high-priced player in exchange for other players and/or draft picks.
It will all be sorted out by Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET, when McPhee’s selections are finalized. But first here is our projection of who the Golden Knights will take from each team.
D Sami Vatanen: It’s known a deal has been struck between the Ducks and Golden Knights, and it’s likely that it will obligate Vegas not to select Vatanen or Josh Manson. But until we know for sure, Vatanen is the most intriguing available player.
G Louis Domingue: He is a 25-year-old NHL experience and a contract paying him just over $1 million. He seems like the best option in a weak pool of Arizona players.
D Colin Miller: With many NHL teams looking for defensemen, why not take a 24-year-old whose best years are still in front of him?
LW William Carrier: A former second-round pick and a third-year pro, unlike teammate Jack Eichel, Carrier is appealing because he’s only 22 and has plenty of upside.
RW Alex Chiasson: He’s 25, 6-3 and scored 12 goals last season. He’s a restricted free agent who should be easy to sign. He could be a dependable third-line forward.
RW Lee Stempniak: Not many goal scorers are available in this draft, and Stempniak scored 16 for the ‘Canes last season. He’s a consistent secondary scorer. He has one season left on a contract paying $2.5 million.
D Trevor van Riemsdyk: He played in 58 games last season and was plus-17 on a quality Blackhawks defense. Forward Marcus Kruger could join van Riemsdyk in Vegas through a trade.
G Calvin Pickard: Vegas is expected to draft at least four goalies and trade away two. Pickard, 25, would have some value as a goalie entering the prime of his career.
Columbus Blue Jackets
C William Karlsson: The Columbus Dispatch is reporting that the Blue Jackets are giving up a first-round pick and a prospect not to take specific young players or veteran defensemen Jack Johnson or David Savard.
C Cody Eakin: McPhee drafted him when he was in Washington. He’s a two-way, No. 3 center with potential to score 15 goals.
Detroit Red Wings
G Petr Mrazek: He is coming off a poor season but still has the potential to be a difference-maker. The Golden Knights might consider Riley Sheahan, a 215-pound center with potential to score 15 goals.
D Griffin Reinhart: While Reinhart has been slow to develop, he was a fourth-overall pick and is still only 23. He’s the son of former NHL standout Paul Reinhart
C Jonathan Marchessault: He’s the only 30-goal scorer the Golden Knights are going to draft. He’s small, but he can find the net.
Los Angeles Kings
D Brayden McNabb: He’s 6-5 and his game is starting to come together at age 26. He might be a defenseman they keep, rather than one they draft and trade.
D Matt Dumba: The Wild are also exposing defenseman Marco Scandella and forward Eric Staal, but Dumba should be the choice because offensive defensemen are hard to find. Dumba, 22, has 21 goals over the past two seasons.
D Brandon Davidson: Davidson has 101 games of NHL experience and an easy-on-the-budget $1.4 million contract.
RW James Neal: General manager David Poile had to expose Neal to save center Calle Jarnkrok and his favorable $2 million contract.
New Jersey Devils
D Jon Merrill: A rebuilding Devils team should not be giving up young defensemen. New Jersey GM Ray Shero might make an offer to keep him.
New York Islanders
D Calvin de Haan: TSN has reported that the Islanders have offered a first-round pick to Vegas if it won’t select one of their available forwards, such as Brock Nelson or Josh Bailey.
New York Rangers
RW Jesper Fast: The Golden Knights’ hope would be that Fast has more offense than he has shown in New York.
D Marc Methot: Unless the Senators have cut a deal with the Golden Knights, teams will be lining up to make a trade offer for Methot, who was in Ottawa’s top pairing. He could be the hottest player in the trade market.
G Michal Neuvirth: McPhee had him in Washington. He might be a quality backup in Vegas, or maybe the Golden Knights can ship him to Buffalo or Winnipeg.
G Marc-Andre Fleury: When the Flames traded for Mike Smith, it seemed to signal that Fleury would be the No. 1 goalie in Las Vegas. In addition to being a quality goalie, Fleury is an exceptional teammate and an entertaining personality. He’s perfect for an expansion team.
St. Louis Blues
W David Perron: With so many teams looking for scoring, Vegas could draft Perron and move him for a draft pick. He scored 18 goals last season.
San Jose Sharks
D Paul Martin: At 36, Martin is still one of the NHL’s most consistent defensemen. He’s had one minus season over the past decade. He has two seasons left at $4.8 million.
Tampa Bay Lightning
D Jake Dotchin: He’s 6-3 and was playing 17 to 19 minutes a night for the Lightning as a rookie late in the season. He has some bite to his game.
Toronto Maple Leafs
LW Kerby Rychel: He’s a former first-round pick who is coming off a strong American Hockey League season. He posted 19 goals, 52 points and 118 penalty minutes for the Toronto Marlies.
LW Reid Boucher: He’s 23 and had five goals in 27 games for the Canucks.
D Nate Schmidt: He was a plus-22 in 60 games last season for the Capitals. Schmidt has 200 games of NHL experience.
D Toby Enstrom: While Enstrom, 32, might not be a perfect fit for an expansion team, he has considerable value in the trade market. He’s an offensive defenseman who can run a power play. Wouldn’t he be a good fit in Detroit or Boston or even Pittsburgh if Trevor Daley isn’t re-signed?