In a press conference yesterday afternoon Vegas General Manager George McPhee said he hopes to have his team picked at some point today.  The final roster is expected to be released on Wednesday June 21st.  What deals does he have in place with other teams?  Who exactly is he going to pick?  This will all come to light within the next day, as for now all we have is speculation, which can be just as fun.

It’s been rumored that McPhee has deals in place with Anaheim, Chicago, Columbus, and possibly the New York Islanders, Los Angeles, and Ottawa.  Anaheim doesn’t want them to take Manson or Vatanen, Chicago wants them to take Kruger, Columbus is rumored to be offering their first round pick if Vegas takes David Clarkson.  Much like Columbus, LA and Ottawa could possibly be offering first round picks as bait to take Dustin Brown or Bobby Ryan off their books.  The Islanders are reportedly sending their first round pick this year to Vegas, so Vegas will select Mikhail Grabovski and his $5 million contract.

With all the talk about side deals it’s a little hard to predict exactly who Vegas will pick from each team, but I’m going to show you who I would pick if there were no deals.

GOALTENDERS:  Total Salary:  $2,000,000

  • Calvin Pickard (COL)
  • Antti Raanta (NYR)
  • Philipp Grubauer (WSH)(RFA)

Everyone has Vegas taking Marc-Andre Fleury as one of their goalies after he waived his NMC for the expansion draft.  Unless there is a deal in place for McPhee to take Fleury, I would steer clear.  Fleury is a very capable goaltender, but I would want to build around a younger goalie, Pickard or Grubauer.  Both of the aforementioned guys were lights out at the World Championships and Grubauer looks ready to be the man in net.  There is always the possibility that McPhee does take Fleury and then flips him to a team in need of a goalie.

Defense:  Total Salary:  $20,187,857

  • Zach Bogosian (BUF)
  • Jason Demers (FLA)
  • Brenden Dillon (SJ)
  • Matt Dumba (MINN)
  • Brandon Davidson (MTL)
  • Colin Miller (BOS)
  • Josh Manson (ANA)
  • Trevor van Riemsdyk (CHI)
  • Fredrik Claesson (OTT)
  • Brett Kulak (CGY) (RFA)
  • Xavier Quellet (DET) (RFA)
  • Griffin Reinhart (EDM) (RFA

George McPhee should have no trouble building a defensive core with who’s available in the expansion draft.  Of course these names are subject to change barring trades and the fact that, believe it or not, I’m not George McPhee.  Bogosian may be a name on here that makes you go, “seriously?”  The right handed defenseman carries a cap hit of $5,142,857 for the next three seasons and is coming off a rather rough season in Buffalo.  Bogosian does however bring a checking veteran presence to the blue-line and a hard right handed shot.  George McPhee and company have plenty of cap space to take the veteran defenseman, especially if Buffalo is willing to sweeten the pot.  Toby Enstrom from Winnipeg could also be a chosen instead of Bogosian.

Forwards:  Total Salary:  $22,375,833

  • James Neal (NSH)
  • Carl Hagelin (PITT)
  • Cody Eakin (DAL)
  • Lee Stempniak (CAR)
  • Ryan Strome (NYI)
  • Trevor Lewis (LA)
  • Marko Dano (WPG)
  • Cedric Paquette (TB)
  • Kerby Rychel (TOR)
  • Beau Bennett (NJ) (RFA)
  • Jordan Weal (PHI) (UFA)
  • Reid Boucher (VAN) (RFA)
  • Alexander Burmistrov (ARZ) (RFA)
  • Nail Yakupov (STL) (RFA)
  • Josh Anderson (CBJ) (RFA)

Compared to the defenseman list, the list of forwards looks pretty sad.  There’s not a whole lot of offensive firepower in there.  You could take Benoit Pouliot from Edmonton instead, if they were willing to compensate Vegas for picking him.  He’d bring a little more offense, along with his $4 million contract.  George McPhee loves Russians.  It was evident in his time in Washington and it’s becoming that way in Vegas already.  In addition to already adding Vadim Shipachyov, the Golden Knights are also reportedly close to signing Evgeny Dadonov.  Why not add former first overall pick Nail Yakupov to the mix?  Vegas could opt for a guy like Jori Lehtera instead of Yakupov.  He would bring more offense (34 points last season), but he’d also bring his $4.7 million cap hit.

Total Cap Hit:  $44,563,690

Total Cap Space:  $28,436,310 (With 9 RFA’s and 1 UFA)

George McPhee has stated that he’s not going to build his team through the expansion draft, but through the entry draft.  McPhee will be doing his best to stock pile draft picks and prospects from teams trying to protect their guys.   It will be an interesting couple of days to see how things turn out for the 31st franchise in the NHL.

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