Since being named general manager of the expansion Vegas Golden Knights last July, George McPhee has prepared non-stop for the moment he can actually fill out his roster with bona fide NHL players and prospects.
"We're going to pick our team tomorrow." --George McPhee#VegasDraft pic.twitter.com/VBVAl7ySBo— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights)June 19, 2017
While there have been a myriad of mock drafts done by every imaginable source, including, behind closed doors, by McPhee and his staff the past several months, the final mock-ups take on more relevance now that all 30 NHL teams submitted their respective protected lists this past Sunday.
Vegas must select a minimum of 14 forwards, nine defensemen, and three goalies, with the remaining four players of any position. Only ten of the players can be restricted or unrestricted free agents; and the total of the 30 contracts must add up to at least $43.8 million, which is the mandated 60 percent of last year's $73 million salary cap.
So, seeking the right mix of proven veterans and younger prospects and projects, here is the final Sporting News mock Expansion Draft, with players listed alphabetically, by position, with their 2016-17 team and current salary cap hit.
Philipp Grubauer (Washington Capitals-RFA): The restricted free agent is ready to step out from Braden Holtby's shadow and will get the chance to compete for the No. 1 role in Vegas. McPhee drafted him as GM of the Capitals, and will do so again for Vegas in the Expansion Draft. Other Caps considered: D Nate Schmidt and C Jay Beagle.
Calvin Pickard (Colorado Avalanche-$1 million): Had some very good moments filling in for the injured Semyon Varlamov much of last season with the woeful Avalanche, and was solid in backstopping Canada to a silver medal at the World Championships. Like Grubauer, Pickard is only 25-years-old and on the upswing. Other Avs considered: none really, maybe C Mikhail Grigorenko.
Antti Raanta (New York Rangers-$1 million): Coming off the best season of his career, picking up the pieces when Henrik Lundqvist struggled on Broadway, the 28-year-old Raanta can either be the No. 1 in Vegas, a more than capable insurance policy as the No. 2, or an intriguing trade chip who is in his final season before hitting unrestricted free agency. Other Rangers considered: C Oscar Lindberg, LW Michael Grabner, and RW Jesper Fast.
Malcolm Subban (Boston Bruins-RFA): It is important for the Golden Knights to select a younger goalie they can groom for the future, and Subban, younger brother of you know who, fits the bill. The 2012 Bruins first-rounder has only two NHL appearances under his belt, but played reasonably well over four seasons in the minor leagues. Give him 60 starts in the AHL this season, then decide what you've got. Other Bruins considered: D Colin Miller.
Brenden Dillon (San Jose Sharks-$3.27 million): The hulking 26-year-old is already six seasons into his NHL career after signing as an undrafted free agent with the Dallas Stars. Solid in his own end, good size, and with this group would be one the top three lefties on the blue line. Other Sharks considered: G Aaron Dell and D David Schlemko.
Jake Dotchin (Tampa Bay Lightning-RFA): After spending two-plus seasons in the minors, the 23-year-old Dotchin was pressed into service with the Lightning when injuries beat up their back end, and he performed well, totaling 11 assists and 35 penalty minutes in 35 games. Added bonus: he is right-handed. Give the kid a look. Other Lightning considered: D Andrej Sustr and C Cedric Paquette.
Matt Dumba (Minnesota Wild-$2.55 million): He was the seventh overall selection by the Wild in the 2012 entry draft and should be at the top of Vegas' Expansion Draft selections on Wednesday. Perhaps he has yet to live up to the hype, but Dumba is trending in the right direction (11 goals, 23 assists, 34 points a year ago), is right-handed, and only 22-years-old. Fellow d-man Marco Scandella (27) was an option here, too, from Minnesota, but Dumba can't be passed up.
Ben Lovejoy (New Jersey Devils-$2.67 million): Lovejoy is solid defensively, right-handed, a former Stanley Cup champion, and absolutely terrific in the locker room. Put a letter on his jersey and let him go to work. Other Devils considered: LW Michael Cammalleri and D Jon Merrill.
Alexey Marchenko (Toronto Maple Leafs-$1.45 million): Marchenko, the 25-year-old Russian, is still feeling his way after splitting last season between the Red Wings and Maple Leafs. He can compete for a spot on the right side. Other Maple Leafs considered: D Martin Marincin.
Brayden McNabb (Los Angeles Kings-$1.7 million): The 6-foot-5 McNabb is a bruising presence on the back end, though one who suffered a fractured collarbone last season. Other Kings considered: RW Dustin Brown, C Nick Shore and C Trevor Lewis.
Marc Methot (Ottawa Senators-$4.9 million): Methot will slot in on the Golden Knights' top defensive pairing and also be one of the leaders of this team. A solid get in the Expansion Draft. Other Senators considered: RW Bobby Ryan.
Griffin Reinhart (Edmonton Oilers-RFA): It has been a rough go for Reinhart since being selected by the Islanders fourth overall in 2012. He only has 37 games of NHL experience, but is still only 23-years-old. Worth taking a shot on him, whether he is an NHLer this season or not. Other Oilers considered: G Laurent Brossoit and RW Iiro Pakarinen.
Ryan Sproul (Detroit Red Wings-$625,000): An offensive-minded defenseman, Sproul, like Reinhart, is worth taking a shot on and further developing. A former second-round pick who has produced good numbers in the minors, Sproul did play in 27 games with the Red Wings last season, picking up seven points (1-6-7) before suffering a season-ending knee injury. He may not be ready to start the upcoming season, but still worth the pick. Other Red Wings considered: G Petr Mrazek, D Jonathan Ericsson and D Xavier Oullet.
Sami Vatanen (Anaheim Ducks-$4.875 million): There are rumors that the Ducks and Golden Knights have a deal in place where Vegas will not select either of Anaheim's unprotected stud d-men, Vatanen and Josh Manson, but for this exercise unannounced trades do not factor in. So Vatanen slides in next to Methot on the top defense pairing in Vegas.
Josh Anderson (Columbus Blue Jackets-RFA): Like Vatanen, it seems Anderson may stay put in Columbus due to a pre-arranged deal, but his pick is a no-brainer in this exercise. The 23-year-old scored 17 goals last season with Columbus, and would be a top-six right wing in Vegas. Other Blue Jackets considered: G Joonas Korpisalo, G Anton Forsberg and C William Karlsson.
Troy Brouwer (Calgary Flames-$4.5 million): Not coming off a real good season, but McPhee knows Brouwer from Washington. High-character, leadership skills, and a possible trade candidate to a contender. Other Flames considered: C Freddie Hamilton.
William Carrier (Buffalo Sabres-$689,000): A project up front for the Golden Knights. Five goals and eight points in 41 games with the Sabres in his rookie season a year ago, Carrier is also a former second-round pick of the St. Louis Blues. Other Sabres considered: G Linus Ullmark and D Josh Gorges.
We get to pick #OneBuffalo. But which one? #VegasDraft pic.twitter.com/nF8IJpEBuH— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights)June 18, 2017
Michael Chaput (Vancouver Canucks-RFA): Not a lot of point production yet at the NHL level for the 25-year-old Chaput (17 points in 126 games), but he was a solid contributor for the Calder Cup champions in Lake Erie in 2015-16. Worth a shot. Other Canucks considered: C Brandon Gaunce and D Luca Sbisa.
Marko Dano (Winnipeg Jets-$850,000): If selected, the Golden Knights would be Dano's fourth NHL team already at the age of 22. He has upper-end offensive skill and needs an opportunity to develop. Vegas seems like a good spot to do that. Other Jets considered: D Toby Enstrom and D Ben Chiarot.
Cody Eakin (Dallas Stars-$3.85 million): Eakin is coming off a down year (3-9-12 in 60 games), but at age 26 can easily revert to being a solid two-way performer, centering the second or third line in Vegas. Other Stars considered: RW Adam Cracknell.
Charles Hudon (Montreal Canadiens-$650,000): He's not a big guy, but Hudon has above-average offensive skills. Just 22-years-old, he had 28 goals two years ago in the AHL and 27--in only 56 games--last season. Hudon played in three games with the Canadiens and picked up a pair of assists. Other Canadiens considered: C Torrey Mitchell and D Alexei Emelin.
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Marcus Kruger (Chicago Blackhawks-$3.083 million): Reports are that Chicago and Vegas have a deal in place for Kruger and Trevor van Riemsdyk to both end up with the Golden Knights. Whether true or not, Kruger would be a solid pick to fill a top-nine role in Vegas. Other Blackhawks considered: van Riemsdyk.
Jonathan Marchessault (Florida Panthers-RFA): A no-brainer. Marchessault led the Panthers with 30 goals last season and has 70 points in 124 career NHL games. Yes, he is undersized, but there's no way a team likely to be starving for offense can pass him up. Other Panthers considered: none.
Jamie McGinn (Arizona Coyotes-$3.33 million): Here's banking that McGinn has a bounce-back season, and, if he does, becomes a trade target down the road for contenders. Only two years ago he scored 22 goals. Other Coyotes considered: C Alex Burmistrov.
James Neal (Nashville Predators-$5 million): There are other younger, intriguing options available off the Nashville roster, but Neal is a bona fide goal scorer, and an expansion team needs at least a couple of those on its roster. He is a nine-time 20-goal scorer, and had 23 a year ago. Contenders will be sniffing around to pick him up late in the season as a rental option heading into unrestricted free agency. Other Predators considered: C Colton Sissons, LW Pontus Aberg, C Colin Wilson and C Craig Smith.
Brock Nelson (New York Islanders-$2.5 million): The Islanders protected five defensemen, and reportedly are going to surrender their first-round pick so that Vegas keeps its mitts off Nelson and the other available New York forwards. If true, too bad, because Nelson has scored 20 or more goals in three straight seasons and had a career-high 45 points a year ago. Other Islanders considered: LW Josh Bailey, C Casey Cizikas, C Ryan Strome and D Calvin de Haan.
David Perron (St. Louis Blues-$3.75 million): Another veteran scoring threat entering the final year of his contract. Perron's 46 points last year were his most since the 2013-14 season (28-29-57). Other Blues considered: none.
Michael Raffl (Philadelphia Flyers-$2.35 million): Raffl scored 21 goals three seasons ago, but was hurt much of last season. Can be a good, hard-working top-nine forward. Other Flyers considered: G Michal Neuvirth and RW Matt Read.
Bryan Rust (Pittsburgh Penguins-$640,000): The 25 year-old Rust is a hard-working two-time Stanley Cup winner with a penchant for scoring the big goal. In 46 career playoff games he has 13 goals. He also scored 15 goals in 58 games during the 2016-17 regular season. There are plenty of good options to choose from here, but Rust is the pick, and an affordable one, too. Other Penguins considered: G Marc-Andre Fleury, LW Carl Hagelin and D Ian Cole.
Lee Stempniak (Carolina Hurricanes-$2.5 million): Pack your bags again Lee! Sitting on 200 career goals, Stempniak has already played for ten teams, producing consistently along the way. And if he produces in Vegas, there's a good chance he is someone's trade deadline pick up.....again. Other 'Canes considered: G Cam Ward, G Eddie Lack and LW Joakim Nordstrom.
We've been listening to your thoughts on the protected lists. These are George McPhee's thoughts
More: https://t.co/uTGJND6sdv#VegasDraft pic.twitter.com/q00pMZp024— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights)June 18, 2017
Source : http://www.sportingnews.com/nhl/news/nhl-expansion-draft-mock-draft-vegas-golden-knights-jonthan-marchessault-james-neal-marc-methot-matt-dumba/n1e3htuuzy3y1r6sjcuyfuda3