Vegas Golden Knights: With the NHL Trade Deadline Over and the Playoffs Fast Approaching, We Re-Assess Who the Vegas Golden Knights May Take in the Expansion as well as Full Team Decisions!
The NHL Trade Deadline is now over, which means a new mock draft for the Vegas Golden Knights. With new players in new cities, it’s made things a tad more difficult on who to protect and who to leave exposed. But I believe this is the best scenario for all teams as of now.
The following selections for each team will be done with either a 4-4-1 protection plan or a 7-3-1 protection plan. The first plan is four forwards, four defensemen and one goalie. The second plan is seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie. Also, some players will have their NMC’s (No Movement Clause) waived to make room for someone else younger and on the come up, however, teams can also use conditional picks to protect additional players. In this mock I’ll be going team by team of players I protected as well as the player I have the Golden Knights drafting.
I will be doing another mock draft during the middle of the playoffs and who knows, maybe some new players will be chosen!
In this mock draft, I have Kevin Bieksa waiving his NMC in order for the team to protect Josh Manson. Now if the Ducks want to they can always use a conditional pick to protect him. Due to Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, and Ryan Kesler having NMC’s that most likely won’t be waived by the team, their best option is a 4-4-1 route. This does leave some solid depth forwards exposed, by why not take a veteran big body d-man with your first pick?
This time around the Coyotes are protecting Mike Smith over Louis Domingue, cause if you have watched Domingue this season he’s shown that he’s still not ready for constant NHL play. So Arizona’s best option would be to sign an experienced backup in the off-season, but they could also use a condition pick to protect him. Also, I protected a lot of the team’s youth since that is the direction the organization is going.
Boston Bruins: Protection Plan: 7-3-1. Vegas Draft Pick: Joe Morrow.
I have Zdeno Chara waiving his NMC this way the Bruins can protect three skilled young defensemen. This also leaves another in Joe Morrow exposed but they could use a pick to protect him and Malcolm Subban as well if Vegas was to approach either.
Buffalo‘s 7-3-1 plan is quite simple, they have a lot of youth down the middle and on the wings that will carry this team. And with Buffalo wanting to go the youth route as well this will help them protect some youth players and high scoring vets. William Carrier is a talented player that unfortunately is exposed but Buffalo could use a pick to protect him.
The majority of the Flames roster are depth players that don’t do much but hit and fill roles, with them constantly making moves for younger players and the addition of Curtis Lazar it’s obvious the team will want to protect him. Newly acquired defenseman Michael Stone is a free agent this off-season so there is no point in protecting him which makes him a solid pick for the Knights defense.
Mar 16, 2017; Ottawa, Ontario, CAN; Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) takes a break during the second period against the Ottawa Senators at the Canadian Tire Centre. The Blackhawks defeated the Senators 2-1. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
Carolina is much like Calgary, they don’t have a lot of experienced vets worth keeping, and since their team is fairly young they will most likely keep it that way. The best-exposed player for the team would obviously be Connor Brickley who can be saved with a pick, this leaves the second best option in Eddie Lack.
Chicago Blackhawks: Protection Plan: 7-3-1. Vegas Draft Pick:Scott Darling.
Due to Chicago having so many key players with NMC’s it’s hard for the club to protect so many talented players. Thus leaving Scott Darling, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Michael Latta, and Dennis Rasmussen exposed. If the Hawks wish to protect Darling with a pick they always can, but this is a mock draft, and I see the team protecting the likes of either van Riemsdyk or Rasmussen first, leaving Vegas with another solid option in net.
Colorado has a lot of talent on the backend that needs to be protected, so their best option is to go with a 4-4-1 plan. And in order to protect an extra defenseman who isn’t so close to retirement, I got Francois Beauchemin waiving his NMC. But due to the 4-4-1 plan Colorado has a couple solid young players left exposed, but like every situation so far the Aves could protect one with a pick.
Columbus Blue Jackets: Protection Plan: 7-3-1. Vegas Draft Pick:William Karlsson.
Columbus doesn’t have a lot of solid defensemen that needs to be protected so the best option for the team is a 7-3-1 plan. And with the rise of the youth this season it’s expected that they will keep some key players and in order to do so, Scott Hartnell has his NMC waived. This leaves the door open to protect Alexander Wennberg, easily the club’s best center behind Brandon Dubinsky. But in doing so also leaves William Karlsson, Lukas Sedlak, and Josh Anderson exposed, and since it’s likely one is going to go either Sedlak or Anderson will be protected with a pick, this leaves Vegas with William Karlsson.
Dallas has a lot of skilled talent of up front that will be up for grabs and in order to protect them, they need to do a 7-3-1 protection plan. This plan is fine as the team also doesn’t have a lot of skilled defensemen that are exposed, the only one’s being Greg Pateryn and Dan Hamhuis, but Hamhuis is nearing retirement while Pateryn can be protected with a pick. But this leaves the team with a conundrum, Mark McNeill, Brett Ritchie, and Curtis McKenzie are exposed now, but with expansion, someone or two someones have to go, so who the Stars are going to protect is a mystery. But in this mock I got the Knights taking grinder scorer Antoine Roussel.
Mar 5, 2017; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Minnesota Wild forward Charlie Coyle (3) at the faceoff in the third period against the San Jose Sharks at Xcel Energy Center. The Minnesota Wild beat the San Jose Sharks 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit is in a tough position moving into this expansion draft, they have amazing talent exposed but will most likely protect their vets who can score as well as their budding youth. But this also has the team leaving four skilled players. And if Vegas made the smart decision and tackled one of these younger guys, their best bet would be someone like Andreas Athanasiou.
Luckily for the Oilers, they don’t have a lot of top tier talent exposed up front or on defense, this leaves the team with a perfect 7-3-1 plan. This way they can protect their three solid defenseman as well as the good forwards who are exposed. The rest are just depth players that can be filled through free agency. But the best pick for the Knights since he has a contract past this season is center Mark Letestu.
Florida, unfortunately, has a lot of top talent exposed up front, but their key players need to be protected over someone who is having a good season or some aging vets. And since they don’t have a lot of serious players on the back end exposed. The team sits perfectly with a 7-3-1 plan. And since the majority of the best-exposed players who are left over have expiring contracts this season, depth scorer Colton Sceviour is a great pick.
Los Angeles Kings: Protection Plan: 7-3-1. Vegas Draft Pick:Brayden McNabb.
Thankfully for Los Angeles, their best-exposed players left over from the ones they have protected are aging players who can be replaced via free agency or rookies in the system. The biggest player up for grabs though would be Derek Forbort, but the Kings will most likely protect him with a pick leaving the second best option for Vegas available in Brayden McNabb.
Minnesota is another team who is in a tough spot come the expansion draft, they have a plethora of offensive and defensive talent exposed. So the plan of 7-3-1 is quite simple, protect the best of the best and hope for the best. With so many top players left over for the exposure, it’s not hard to imagine Vegas taking someone like Charlie Coyle to help the team down the middle and on the wing when need be.
Nov 23, 2016; Los Angeles, CA, USA;New York Islanders center Shane Prince (11) reacts against the Los Angeles Kings during a NHL hockey game at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Montreal Canadiens: Protection Plan: 7-3-1. Vegas Draft Pick:Jordie Benn.
Montreal‘s newly acquired players have expiring contracts so to put them under protection know doesn’t make much sense, and they’re just with the club to make a solid playoff run too. But the rest of the top exposed players are some AHLers who have spent the majority of their careers going back and forth and not being able to stick it out. This is a good sign cause if Montreal was to lose one, they could easily replace him. And with the 7-3-1 protection plan Montreal is able to save all key players who are currently under contract, but if Vegas wants to take a shot on someone and re-sign them in the off-season, the best option is someone like Jordie Benn who is reliable but also cheap.
Nashville is another one of those teams stuck in a tough position, but not with the plan, but with what offensive players to keep. They have a lot of top tier talent up front open to exposure so with this mock it’s more of a best of the best for Nashville’s up front situation. But due to this, some good players will still be exposed like Craig Smith, Colton Sissons, Miikka Salomaki, Austin Watson, and defenseman Ryan Ellis. And if Vegas wants to add a young solid piece to their backend, Ryan Ellis would be their best option.
New Jersey Devils: Protection Plan: 4-4-1. Vegas Draft Pick: Jon Merrill.
The Devils have four solid defensemen that are up for exposure and in order to protect them, they have to do a 4-4-1 plan. But that’s fine since the majority of their offensive players left for exposure are depth players albeit a few. So with the Devils protecting four key defensemen and their four best forwards, the best player for the Knights to pick up would be someone like Jon Merrill for more defensive depth.
New York Islanders: Protection Plan: 7-3-1. Vegas Draft Pick:Shane Prince.
Luckily for the Islanders, they have way more skilled players up front that need to be protected than those on the backend, which leaves the team with a 7-3-1 plan. Now the Knights could always take someone like Jaroslav Halak for more goaltending depth, but due to cap reasons, their best option is scooping up Islanders prospect Shane Prince.
New York Rangers: Protection Plan: 7-3-1. Vegas Draft Pick:Kevin Klein.
The Rangers are another team that has more talented offensive players that need to be protected than what’s on their backend. The Rangers could always opt to protect Jesper Fast, Brendan Smith, or Antti Raanta with a pick. But if Vegas wants even more depth from the backend their best choice is someone like Kevin Klein.
Feb 17, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Patric Hornqvist (72) against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets won 2-1 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Ottawa has a lot of players with expiring contracts after this season that are exposed, so with a 7-3-1 plan, they can protect their key offensive forwards and their three top defensemen. Players like Andrew Hammond, Mike Condon, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Chris Wideman can be replaced via free agency if one was to go, but the Sens should protect either Hammond or Pageau with a pick and keep their protected players above the same. However, if Ottawa chooses Pageau over Hammond, which is likely due to Mike Condon, Hammond would be a perfect fit for Vegas.
Philadelphia Flyers: Protection Plan: 7-3-1. Vegas Draft Pick:Matt Read.
Due to some NMC’s and only three solid defenseman up for exposure, Philadelphia‘s best option is to go 7-3-1. But the one bad side of this plan is players like Anthony Stolarz, Nick Cousins, Michael Raffl, and Matt Read are left wide open. Now Philly can always protect one with a pick and that player would most likely be Stolarz or Cousins, leaving Vegas with a solid pick in Matt Read.
With the play of Marc-Andre Fleury this season and all the rumors surrounding his name, it makes sense to protect Matthew Murray over him, that’s why in this mock I have his NMC being waived. And since Pittsburgh has a lot of top defensive players exposed their only option is to go with a 4-4-1 plan. And with Kessel, Crosby, and Malkin sporting NMC’s as well they can only protect one other forward and with youth, as a factor, their best bet is Carl Hagelin. Which leaves Vegas with a top six winger in Patric Hornqvist.
San Jose Sharks: Protection Plan: 7-3-1. Vegas Draft Pick:Justin Braun.
San Jose has a ton of offensive players that are top notch in the league that needs to be protected, thankfully they don’t have many defensive players that need to be. With the play of backup goaltender Aaron Dell this season it’s obvious the team will use a pick to protect him. And in doing so leaves a solid depth defenseman for Vegas right out in the open with Justin Braun.
St. Louis Blues: Protection Plan: 7-3-1. Vegas Draft Pick:Dmitrij Jaskin.
The Blues are another team that falls right into a perfect 7-3-1 plan. All of their key forwards are exposed and the defenseman exposed aren’t that good, well despite three of them. Which is perfect for the team cause the players left over are easy to replace. The Blues could always opt to protect Dmitrij Jaskin, Ryan Reaves, Ty Rattie, Carl Gunnarsson, or Carter Hutton with a pick, and with the play of Hutton this season they will need him again next year to help Jake Allen some more. So this leaves Vegas picking up a solid third/fourth line winger in Dmitrij Jaskin.
Feb 19, 2017; Raleigh, NC, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Leo Komarov (47) gets ready for a face off against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Toronto Maple Leafs defeat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-0. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Tampa Bay Lightning: Protection Plan: 7-3-1. Vegas Draft Pick:Erik Condra.
With a lot of Tampa‘s left over exposed players having expiring contracts after this season, they fit perfectly with a 7-3-1 plan. This way all of their top offensive forwards are protected and their top three defensemen. Now the Bolts have some players who they could choose to protect with a pick like Alex Killorn, J.T. Brown, Cedric Paquette, Jason Garrison, and Slater Koekkoek it’s easy to see them protecting Paquette due to age, potential and how well he’s done so far. This, in turn, would leave the Knights with yet another top nine winger in Erik Condra.
Toronto Maple Leafs: Protection Plan: 4-4-1. Vegas Draft Pick:Leo Komarov.
Toronto has no choice but to go 4-4-1 due to the fact they have some quality defense that needs to be protected. However, this does put a damper on who they want to keep offensively. Now with three of their best up front protected one spot is left over and it’s easy seeing it go to Connor Brown. The Leafs have a tough choice though on who to protect between Leo Komarov, Kerby Rychel, Brendan Leipsic, Martin Marincin, Antoine Bibeau, Garret Sparks, Seth Griffith, and Josh Leivo. Now if they were to protect one they would pick either Bibeau or Leivo. And due to this leaves Vegas with another top six winger in Leo Komarov.
Vancouver Canucks: Protection Plan: 7-3-1. Vegas Draft Pick:Luca Sbisa.
Vancouver doesn’t have too many top defensive up for exposure which is perfect for the club leaving them with a 7-3-1 plan and not having to worry about which defenseman to protect. And also with this plan, they can keep a hold of their top forwards. So with this in mind, the best choice for Vegas would be another defensive piece in Luca Sbisa.
Washington Capitals: Protection Plan: 7-3-1. Vegas Draft Pick:Tom Wilson.
Washington‘s top offensive players who are left over are nearing retirement and/or depth players that can be replaced with youth in the system. Now they went out and acquired Kevin Shattenkirk at the deadline to help them in the playoffs but since his contract expires at the end of the season and he’ll want a pretty penny for the year he has had, he won’t be back. So the Caps fall right into a 7-3-1 protection plan. This way they can keep their top three defensemen and their top forwards. It’s likely that the Caps will use a pick to protect either Dmitry Orlov or Brooks Orpik but which one exactly we’ll have to wait and see. This leaves Vegas with a choice on who to take up front, and if they want to round out the wing position, someone like Tom Wilson would be a perfect fit.
Winnipeg has four very solid defensemen meaning they have to go with a 4-4-1 plan in order to protect them, but this means they can only keep four forwards as well. So choosing the best of the best leaves some solid players still wide open. Now they can use a pick to either protect Marko Dano, Andrew Copp, Joel Armia, or Quinton Howden. But losing either one isn’t a big deal since they have so many offensive pieces currently playing in the minors. Now with them setting eyes on Hellebuyck as their new starter this puts Ondrej Pavelec and Michael Hutchinson up for grabs as well, but with Hutchinson being a career fringe backup, and Pavelec on a tumble downhill don’t expect Vegas to go after either one, what they will do is most likely strengthen their position down the middle and take Mathieu Perreault.
Halfway through the playoffs, I will have another mock draft for you and I will also have another after day two of the 2017 NHL Draft. Every week we get closer to the off-season and a full vision of what the Knights will become!