No matter what strategy the Golden Knights use in the expansion draft, they're going to find the guys they want.
Shortly after protected lists were released Sunday morning, GMs began calling McPhee to try to poach available players from other teams. There are so many potential moves on the table - trades made or not made, free agents signed or passed on - that McPhee won't have an opportunity to really look back and wonder: What if?
The Vegas Golden Knights will build out their roster through the NHL's expansion draft on June 21.
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Among the other available goaltenders: Cam Ward (Carolina); Petr Mrazek (Detroit); Jonathan Bernier (Anaheim); Brian Elliott (Calgary); Joonas Korpisalo (Columbus); Ryan Miller (Vancouver); Jaroslav Halak (New York Islanders); Roberto Luongo (Florida); Antti Niemi (Dallas); Kari Lehtonen (Dallas).
James Neal is one of the more seasoned scorers available for the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft.
While talking to teams, McPhee said the Knights have also been in discussions with individual unrestricted and restricted free agents.
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Not one all-star from last season is up for grabs, and only one player from the league's top-30 scorers is available: 32-year-old Eric Staal, who resurrected his career with 65 points for Minnesota. But if they'd like to launder him through Vegas, not only would they have to offer a trade haul to convince Vegas to part with him, but they'd have to outbid any other teams trying to do so, and whatever the Panthers are offering Vegas to not select him in the first place. Presumably, it's another pick or prospect. So, as a hypothetical, a team that might be interested in Washington's Grubauer could incentivize Vegas to select him in the expansion draft and then subsequently trade him. People have identified people on other clubs that they'd like to have. And then we're going to go that club and say: 'We have interest in this player, there's another club that has interest in this player, how do we want to do this, how can we protect your roster?
McPhee's message to teams Sunday was: "You can negotiate your way out of this if you wish". On their protection list, which was submitted to the league Saturday, Washington included forwards Alex Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Marcus Johansson, Lars Eller, Tom Wilson as well as defensemen John Carlson, Matt Niskanen and Dmitry Orlov and goaltender Braden Holtby. "We will not make a claim with any club before we talk to the club".
Yes, it is true that since the National Hockey League chose to expand from its original 21 teams to add nine more clubs between 1991 and 2000, two of those teams (Tampa Bay Lightning and Anaheim Ducks) have won Stanley Cups, and another four teams (Florida Panthers, Ottawa Senators, San Jose Sharks and most recently the Nashville Predators) have at least advanced to the final. He is 34 years old, but a plus is that he is only signed through next season at a $3.75 Million cap hit.
Now that teams are aware of the $2 million bump, it could effect what deals they end up making with Vegas - or anyone else.
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