Okay, here we go with Part Two of our Las Vegas Expansion Draft Picks. I do have to offer a couple disclaimers as we go into the second day. First (the best is definitely saved for last and second), Las Vegas GM George McPhee is definitely looking to wheel-and-deal before, during, and after the draft. He is looking to gather draft picks for this year and next in exchange for avoiding certain unprotected players, AND he’s looking to draft players that he may not necessarily want, but others may covet (i.e. Toby Enstrom, Marc-Andre Fleury, Matt Dumba). McPhee is holding all the cards (Vegas pun intended) in today’s draft and gets to leverage the other 30 GM’s into trades they would usually not consider in order to protect their glue-guys, their grit-guys, their veterans, their prospects, and their fan favorites.
Second, the Las Vegas fans will be thrilled with any player they get because honestly they have NEVER had a pro athlete to cheer for before today. For the fans of the other 30 teams in the NHL, their best case scenario today is a sigh of relief if/when Las Vegas passes on the player that you just could not stand to lose.
Thus, tune into tonight and watch a real fantasy draft worth over $45 million, because who knows the next time that we will see another – Enjoy!!
Anaheim Ducks – Sami Vatanen
Is Vatanen a perfect fit for the expansion Golden Knights? No. But, he is just about the only hockey player available to Las Vegas that is signed for the next three years. On top of that, Sami is a mere twenty-six years old. This could be a great cornerstone to build their defense around.
Calgary Flames – Brian Elliott
Yesterday, I stated that the Golden Knights should pick-up Antti Raanta as their goalie of the future. I think they can take Brian Elliott as either a great veteran back-up, or attempt to use him as leverage in negotiating a new deal with Raanta.
Chicago Blackhawks – Trevor van Riemsdyk
I am a Blackhawks fan. I was split between van Riemsdyk, Pokka, and Kruger. I went with van Riemsdyk because he has gone through the growing pains of becoming an NHL defensemen. However, they may prefer to go with the unknown of Pokka as he has been a top rated prospect in the Blackhawks organization for the last two years.
Edmonton Oilers – Jujhar Khaira
One of, and maybe the only, prospect that I have listed. The Oilers would hate to lose this third round pick, but that may be the case if the Knights are looking to avoid Pouloit’s large contract.
Minnesota Wild – Matt Dumba
The Wild without a doubt have the best players available to the Knights with Dumba, Scandella, Hanzal, and Staal all unprotected. The best choice here is Matt Dumba. He has a howitzer of a slapshot and one of the best goal scoring defensemen in the NHL. It would be a huge mistake to pass on Dumba, but the extra year under contract for Eric Staal may be too much to pass up.
Nashville Predators – Colin Wilson
The Golden Knights could actually get a left winger?! I have definitely found that left wings are the toughest position to come by for most teams. Wilson would bring good size at 6’1″ 220 and some goal scoring ability as a second- or third-line skater for the Knights. Also, he is a single man from Greenwich, CT – he will be looking to have some fun at the Hard Rock pool parties.
San Jose Sharks – David Schlemko
A lot of talent available from the Sharks including free agents Patrick Marleau & Joe Thornton and defensemen Paul Martin & Brenden Dillon. The Knights avoid the risk of not being able to sign Marleau or Thornton and turn their focus to the trio of blue-liners. Dillon and Schlemko each have three year deals, while Dillon is earning a cool mil more than Schlemko per year. I think they take the cheaper guy with similar talent and call it a day. System, age (Dillon is three years the junior), or that $45 million cap floor may tilt this decision to Dillon.
St. Louis Blues – Jori Lehtera
Plan and simple we need a headlining WAG on the Golden Knights. Someone has to lead the “wo-squad” for this new team and I nominate Lotta Lehtera. He is a great hockey player as well, just ask Minnesota Wild fans. But damn, I change my tune – “We may wanta Raanta, but we gotta Lotta!”
Go Golden Knights,