Vegas Golden Knights land 6th pick in NHL Draft

Vegas Golden Knights land 6th pick in NHL Draft

AP Photo/John Locher

Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee attends a news conference Thursday, April 13, 2017, in Las Vegas. The Vegas Golden Knights have hired Gerard Gallant as the first coach of the NHL expansion team.

Published Saturday, April 29, 2017 | 5 p.m.

Updated Saturday, April 29, 2017 | 7:01 p.m.

Today didn’t start out well for Golden Knights general manager George McPhee when his flight to Toronto was severely delayed and he was forced to watch the NHL Draft lottery remotely from Washington D.C.

It didn’t get much better from there as he watched the Golden Knights tumble to the sixth selection in the draft – the lowest they could possibly pick entering the draft.

It’s the lowest draft pick for any expansion team in NHL history.

The New Jersey Devils, who had only an 8.5 percent chance, were awarded the No. 1 pick, and the Flyers jumped all the way up from 13th to grab the second pick. The Dallas Stars also jumped into the top three, sending the Golden Knights to sixth behind Colorado and Vancouver.

McPhee, however, has already found the silver lining in both situations.

“I can’t say that I’m really disappointed,” McPhee said. “It’s not something that you can get emotional about. We knew from day one that we’d be picking somewhere between first and sixth and that’s not a bad place to be.

“We are confident tonight that we are still going to get a really good player at six.”

The Golden Knights were represented in Toronto by Hockey Operations Analyst Tom Poraszka while McPhee watched from the Verizon Center in Washington D.C., which hosted game two of the second-round playoff series between the Capitals and Penguins tonight.

“These are two teams that we definitely have to scout a lot for the expansion draft so it worked out,” McPhee said during the first intermission.

The drop to sixth puts top-ranked prospect Nolan Patrick out of reach for Vegas. The 18-year-old sharpshooter for the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League has a strong connection to Golden Knightsassistant general manager Kelly McCrimmon, who spent nearly three decades as coach, general manager and part owner of the Wheat Kings. Reid Duke, currently the Golden Knights’ only player, played with Patrick in Brandon.

And while many analysts have painted this draft class as one of the worst in years, McCrimmon strongly disagrees.

“Probably most of the people that are saying that haven’t watched a junior game this year. So I guess it proves people can read,” he said earlier this month. “I think a lot of times when people say it’s a down year they are referring to there not being a (notable prospect) at the top. I think that is sometimes as much as people know about the draft is who the best three or for players are.”

One thing that may bring solace to Golden Knights fans is that this year’s draft class is deeper than past years that have produced superstars like Connor McDavid (2015) and Auston Matthews (2016).

“It doesn’t have that generational player in it at this point, but some players develop into that,” McPhee said. “If it did have that type of player this would have hurt a lot more though for sure.”

The Golden Knights will also likely miss out on speedster Nico Hischier, who is a consensus top-2 pick, but after that Gabriel Vilardi, Owen Tippett, Casey Mittelstadt and Michael Rasmussen may all be in play.

“There are some good players there and we are going to get a good one at six,” McPhee said.

Because the Golden Knights have known for months that they would pick no lower than sixth, they’ve been able to pinpoint the prospects in that area – giving them an edge over other teams.

“It’s a very big advantage so we are delighted that we had the opportunity to focus on those top guys are and know everything about them,” McPhee said.

The sixth pick in the NHL Draft has produced talented players. Just last year the Calgary Flames got left-winger Matthew Tkachuk who went on to rack up 13 goals and 35 assists as a 19-year-old rookie. Other notable sixth-overall picks are Calgary’s Sean Monahan (2013), Ottawa’s Mika Zibanejad (2011) and Columbus’ Derick Brassard (2006)

“I always try to just take the best guy whether it’s a winger, or center or goaltender,” McPhee said. I learned a good lesson over the years and that’s to take the best player. You can fill the holes with trades or free agency. ”

Regardless of the Golden Knights’ misfortune in the lottery tonight, McPhee and his team need to nail the draft on June 23-24 in order to set the foundation for the team.

“I have taken every draft very seriously and this one will be no different,” McPhee said. “The draft is your lifeblood, the base of your spinal column. If it’s out of alignment your entire organization is out of alignment.”

Source : https://lasvegassun.com/news/2017/apr/29/vegas-golden-knights-land-6th-pick-in-nhl-draft/

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