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Photo Credit: NHL.com

Drafting the Vegas Golden Knights – The Biech Boys

Everyone else is doing a mock Expansion Draft, so figured I would give it a shot. Let’s draft the Vegas Golden Knights!

The full draft protected lists can be found here. 

Furthermore, I will honour the trades that are already rumoured to be in place:

That means that I will not select those players for the respective teams. There is also the rumoured deal that Las Vegas will take Marcus Kruger from Chicago, and will receive Trevor Van Riemsdyk, so I will select Kruger and happily take TVR for the trouble.

My strategy is to accumulate defenceman who could be traded for future assets but are also young in case there isn’t a market right now. The same applies for goaltenders; I want to corner the market on young goaltenders, forcing teams to come to me to improve that position. Both of these decisions led to some choices that were against the grain.

When looking for forwards, I targetted young players who can play with speed and pace. There are some obvious exceptions to this, but that was the goal. There are also a couple of other forwards selected to be trade options at the 2018 trade deadline possibly.

So without further ado, here is my Las Vegas Golden Knights.

Forwards

Player Position Team Age
Nicholas Kerdiles F ANA 23
Josh Jooris F ARZ 26
Andrej Nestrasil F CAR 26
Hunter Shinkaruk F CGY 22
William Karlsson F CBJ 24
Marcus Kruger F CHI 27
Jonathan Marchessault F FLA 26
Charles Hudon F MTL 22
Michael Cammalleri F NJD 35
James Neal F NSH 29
P.E. Bellemare F PHI 32
Bryan Rust F PIT 25
David Perron F STL 29
Brendan Leipsic F TOR 23
Brendan Gaunce F VAN 23
Marko Dano F WIN 22

The notable trade pieces in the group are Michael Cammalleri, David Perron and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, but all these players are good skaters who just haven’t had the chance to prove their worth yet. The notable deviations from the norm are Bryan Rust over Marc-Andre Fleury (this will make sense when you look at my goalie selections), although it appears that Fleury will be the selection.

Charles Hudon, Brendan Leipsic, Hunter Shinkaruk, Marko Dano and Nicholas Kerdiles are all forwards who haven’t had an extended look at the NHL either. There are obvious flaws to all their games, but they are all 23-years-old or younger, and Las Vegas is the perfect place for them to get their shot. I would expect Hudon and Leipsic to succeed in some capacity, and Shinkaruk gets selected solely because of the Flames exposed list. Kerdiles was because of the rumoured deal with Anaheim. Thus there would be other assets on their way from Disneyland (hopefully some of those Turkey Legs in Frontierland).

The Golden Knights would be able to build a top six around Vadim Shipachyov, Neal, Cammalleri, and Perron before even adding anyone in unrestricted free agency or via redistribution of assets. Then give some of these young offensive forwards a chance. It’s not great, but it’s a good start. But we are keeping an eye on the future here, so a little pain in the short term isn’t the end of the world.

Defencemen

Player Position Team Age
Colin Miller D BOS 24
Jamie Oleksiak D DAL 24
Griffen Reinhart D EDM 23
Brayden McNabb D LAK 26
Matthew Dumba D MIN 22
Calvin De Haan D NYI 26
David Schlemko D SJS 30
Jake Dotchin D TB 23
Fredrik Claesson D OTT 24

Here is where I deviate quite a bit from the norm, but this group actually provides some interesting options. Matt Dumba, Calvin De Haan, Colin Miller and Brayden McNabb would be the group that sticks around while everyone else is fighting for the other two-to-three spots. If anyone calls for anyone other than Dumba, De Haan and McNabb, I am listening and actively interested in moving them. I will admit this isn’t the greatest group, but it’s a starting point.

There are rumours that the Islanders are also having Vegas avoid De Haan, if that is the case, then I would select Thomas Hickey. Unless he is in that ‘don’t take’ list, then whoever they are told to take. We are obviously limited by the information that is publicly available.

You would then add Trevor Van Riemsdyk to this group from Chicago via trade.

Goalies

Player Position Team Age
Linus Ullmark G BUF 23
Calvin Pickard G COL 24
Antti Raanta G NYR 28
Philip Grubauer G WSH 25
Petr Mrazek G DET 25

Here’s where I corner the market. My end goal would be to start the season with Antti Raanta and Philip Grubauer as my one-two combo in the NHL, and then since Linus Ullmark is the unique position of being exposed but also waiver exempt, he would be my target for the third goalie spot. For Calvin Pickard and Petr Mrazek, they quickly go on the market for future assets. Obviously, the goalie market isn’t great, but this may be the best. If they aren’t generating enough return, then I explore the Raanta and Grubauer markets to see what the return would be.


Obviously, the Vegas Golden Knights as outlined above aren’t the best team in the league, but they would be competitive and would have a plethora of options to accumulate future assets. They are rumoured to have as many as three 2017 first round picks on the way just not to take certain players, and there could be even more. Aside from the goalies, they wouldn’t be forced to make trades now but could wait until teams come calling while giving their young forwards a chance to seize a full-time NHL role.

The Golden Knights are in a unique position to accumulate as many future assets as possible. They could position themselves very quickly to be a serious threat in a couple of years if they do it properly. Using the leverage of the expansion draft to force teams to pay not to take players is a very savvy way to do things. If they can then corner some markets and leverage those, they will be better in the long run.

Either way, it’ll be fun to see how the team shakes out on Wednesday.

  • Pat Quinn Way

    I personally believe MAFleury agreed to waive so LV would take him and Pitts would get to keep Rust, so did a deal with McPhee (MAF agreed to waive way back in Feb). Grubauer will likely be the other number one (tandem) goalie for the Knights because he’s good but has never been an NHL starter and McPhee drafted him. Ullmark will therefore likely go to the farm with the waiver exemption bonus.
    Also with that much depth in goal and on D i honestly think LV is gonna be better than the Canucks and will finish above them in their first season.

    Finally I am disgusted that the league is letting all these ‘deals’ be done to stop Vegas taking exposed players and garnering a huge amount of draft picks for doing so, it’s basically an open invitation to bribery – absolutely ridiculous.

    • Agree with the first paragraph, not the second. The alternative would be to not prevent Vegas from trading players back to the teams they came from, taking exposed players and then ransoming them back.

      I don’t see anything wrong with a team paying a penalty to protect an additional player. Vegas has every right to say “no” and take the player anyway.

      • Pat Quinn Way

        I do mate, it’s a farce. IMO teams should be made to just submit their unprotected list and live with it. Vegas should then be made to pick from it and build a team to compete in the NHL right away with no ifs, buts and maybes. It’s generousenough! Yes, they do have the right to say ‘no’, but they aren’t, look at all the ‘deals’ being leaked to not do so already (CBJ, Ana, NYI).

        It’s ridiculous to give LV the option to say “hey, but the NHL says if you want to keep a player on your list that you’ve put on the chopping block we can do a deal where you send us lots of your picks and prospects, we just can’t lose” Hell they could hold every team to ransom and have an insane amount of picks if they wanted too… I have never seen an expansion team being given so much room to prosper from bribery and borderline extortion, it’s mad! Just pick a team from the list and draft ffs! An utter Bettman con agreed to in order to get that lovely expansion 500 mill in the NHL coffers and throw the owners a big ol juicy bone…

        • DJ_44

          It has happened in every expansion draft, even with the broader expansion protection and multiple teams added. You cannot hamstring Vegas from managing their assets.

        • acg5151

          Back in the first expansion drafts teams did deals to keep players from being selected. Both teams did deals in 2000 with San Jose so they could keep Evgeni Nabokov. The only difference is teams now can protect less players, probably because back in the early expansion drafts the only players expansion teams could get were hot garbage or ancient veterans…. and as a result it was tougher for those teams to get good and gain a solid fanbase. The NHL wants Vegas to be better quicker, so that they can build a fanbase in Nevada so their NHL team can survive/make more money.

          • TD

            The teams can protect fewer players, but with the two year rule in the AHL or NHL, lots of players did not need to be protected. The Canucks with their complete lack of depth, didn’t have to protect Tryamkin, Stecher, Hutton, Subban, McEneny and others.

  • wojohowitz

    Will Vegas have a problem losing personnel when their final pre-season cuts go thru waivers or will their cuts be waiver exempt? When they finalize their 23 man roster will they find room for Gaunce or will they try to send him down, expose him to waivers and then let the Canucks put in a claim – in effect, losing nobody in the expansion draft.

  • 51Geezer

    I’m surprised Dumba was available, but maybe he really wasn’t… If he truly was exposed I’m surprised that the Canucks didn’t offer their pick #55 for him.
    The waivers issue is interesting. The Canucks will have the second shot at any player Vegas attempts to demote until a few weeks into the season.

  • acg5151

    If I was GM Mcphee, I would take a similar list to this except instead of taking Calvin DeHaan from the Isles I would take Ryan Strome, I would take Josh Manson instead of Kerdiles, and I would take James Neal instead of Aberg because you could probably get a better young player than Aberg by trading Neal. That being said, it sounds like Garth Snow, David Poile and Bob Murray all have deals with McPhee so they can probably get more through that route. I’d probably take Malcolm Subban over Colin Miller, and instead of taking Grubauer I’d look at signing Karl Alzner as my slot from Washington…. or I’d take Brett Connolly.

    • Donald's Hat Trick

      You can bet that once other teams saw the list they started “placing orders” with LV, and trades are already being discussed.

      Solid article, good job.