Vegas Golden Knights: Mock Draft, Analysis, and Depth Chart Part Two

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!

Anaheim Ducks:
Protection Plan: 4-4-1.
Vegas Draft Pick: Kevin Bieksa.

Protected Players:
Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Rickard Rakell, Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, Cam Fowler, Josh Manson, and John Gibson.

Best Exposed Players:
Jakob Silfverberg, Andrew Cogliano, Antoine Vermette, Patrick Eaves, Kevin Bieksa (NMC Waived), Simon Despres, and Jonathan Bernier.

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?

Arizona Coyotes:
Protection Plan: 7-3-1.
Vegas Draft Pick: Louis Domingue.

Protected Players: Tobias Rieder, Alexander Burmistrov, Peter Holland, Radim Vrbata, Teemu Pulkkinen, Anthony Duclair, Jordan Martinook, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Goligoski, Connor Murphy, Mike Smith

Best Exposed Players: Louis Domingue, Luke Schenn, Shane Doan, Jamie McGinn, Josh Jooris.

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.

Protected Players: Tuukka Rask, Kevan Miller, Collin Miller, Torey Krug, Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, David Backes, Brad Marchand, Ryan Spooner, David Pastrnak, Matt Beleskey.

Best Exposed Players: Zdeno Chara (NMC Waived), Adam McQuaid, Joe Morrow, Malcolm Subban.

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 Sabres:
Protection Plan: 7-3-1.
Vegas Draft Pick: Marcus Foligno.

Protected Players: Robin Lehner, Rasmus Ristolainen, Jake McCabe, Dmitry Kulikov, Ryan O’Reilly, Kyle Okposo, Evander Kane, Matt Moulson, Tyler Ennis, Zemgus Girgensons, Johan Larsson.

Best Exposed Players: Anders Nilsson, Zach Bogosian, Josh Gorges, Cody Franson, Brian Gionta, Marcus Foligno, Nicolas Deslauriers, William Carrier.

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.

Calgary Flames:
Protection Plan: 7-3-1.
Vegas Draft Pick: Michael Stone.

Protected Players: Brian Elliott, Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, T.J. Brodie, Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Mikael Backlund, Sam Bennett, Curtis Lazar, Micheal Ferland, Alex Chiasson.

Best Exposed Players: Troy Brouwer, Michael Frolik, Matt Stajan, Lance Bouma, Kris Versteeg, Hunter Shinkaruk, Freddie Hamilton, Dennis Wideman, Deryk Engelland, Michael Stone, Tyler Wotherspoon, Chad Johnson.

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.

vegas golden knights

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 Hurricanes:
Protection Plan: 7-3-1.
Vegas Draft Pick: Eddie Lack.

Protected Players: Cam Ward, Justin Faulk, Ryan Murphy, Klas Dahlbeck, Jordan Staal, Jeff Skinner, Victor Rask, Elias Lindholm, Joakim Nordstrom, Teuvo Teravainen, Phillip Di Giuseppe.

Best Exposed Players: Eddie Lack, Lee Stempniak, Andrej Nestrasil, Connor Brickley,

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.

Protected Players: Corey Crawford, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Artem Anisimov, Marcus Kruger, Tomas Jurco, Ryan Hartman.

Best Exposed Players: Scott Darling, Johnny Oduya, Brian Campbell, Trevor van Riemsdyk, Richard Panik, Andrew Desjardins, Michael Latta, Dennis Rasmussen.

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 Avalanche:
Protection Plan: 4-4-1.
Vegas Draft Pick: Sven Andrighetto.

Protected Players: Calvin Pickard, Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie, Eric Gelinas, Nikita Zadorov, Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Mikhail Grigorenko.

Best Exposed Players: Semyon Varlamov, Francois Beauchemin (NMC Waived), Fedor Tyutin, Patrick Wiercioch, Carl Soderberg, Blake Comeau, Rocco Grimaldi, Matt Nieto, Sven Andrighetto.

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.

Protected Players: Sergei Bobrovsky, Seth Jones, Jack Johnson, David Savard, Brandon Saad, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Cam Atkinson, Boone Jenner, Matt Calvert, Alexander Wennberg.

Best Exposed Players: Oscar Dansk, Joonas Korpisalo, Anton Forsberg, Ryan Murray, Kyle Quincey, Scott Harrington, Scott Hartnell (NMC Waived), Lauri Korpikoski, William Karlsson, Josh Anderson, Sam Gagner, Lukas Sedlak.

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 Stars:
Protection Plan: 7-3-1.
Vegas Draft Pick: Antoine Roussel.

Protected Players: Kari Lehtonen, John Klingberg, Jamie Oleksiak, Esa Lindell, Stephen Johns, Jason Spezza, Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn, Cody Eakin.

Best Exposed Players: Antti Niemi, Dan Hamhuis, Greg Pateryn, Patrick Sharp, Ales Hemsky, Antoine Roussel, Jiri Hudler, Brett Ritchie, Radek Faksa, Curtis McKenzie, Mark McNeill, Valeri Nichushkin.

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.

vegas golden knights

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 Red Wings:
Protection Plan: 7-3-1.
Vegas Draft Pick: Andreas Athanasiou.

Protected Players: Petr Mrazek, Mike Green, Danny DeKeyser, Niklas Kronwall, Henrik Zetterberg, Frans Nielsen, Gustav Nyquist, Justin Abdelkader, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan, Anthony Mantha.

Best Exposed Players: Darren Helm, Drew Miller, Martin Frk, Andreas Athanasiou, Jonathan Ericsson, Dylan McIlrath, Xavier Ouellet, Nick Jensen, Jimmy Howard, Jared Coreau.

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.

Edmonton Oilers:
Protection Plan: 7-3-1.
Vegas Draft Pick: Mark Letestu.

Protected Players: Cam Talbot, Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Jordan Eberle, Milan Lucic, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Benoit Pouliot, David Desharnais, Patrick Maroon, Leon Draisaitl.

Best Exposed Players: Matt Hendricks, Mark Letestu, Zack Kassian, Anton Lander, Tyler Pitlick, Mark Fayne, Kris Russell, Eric Gryba, Griffin Reinhart, David Musil.

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 Panthers:
Protection Plan: 7-3-1.
Vegas Draft Pick: Colton Sceviour.

Protected Players: Roberto Luongo, Keith Yandle, Alex Petrovic, Aaron Ekblad, Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck, Nick Bjugstad, Jussi Jokinen, Reilly Smith, Jonathan Huberdeau, Jonathan Marchessault.

Best Exposed Players: Reilly Smith, Thomas Vanek, Colton Sceviour, Tim Bozon, Jason Demers, Jakub Kindl, Mark Pysyk, James Reimer, Reto Berra.

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.

Protected Players: Jonathan Quick, Drew Doughty, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin, Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli, Kyle Clifford, Tanner Pearson, Jordan Nolan.

Best Exposed Players: Marian Gaborik, Jarome Iginla, Teddy Purcell, Nic Dowd, Nick Shore, Andy Andreoff, Matt Greene, Brayden McNabb, Zach Trotman, Derek Forbort, Ben Bishop, Jack Campbell.

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 Wild:
Protection Plan: 7-3-1.
Vegas Draft Pick: Charlie Coyle.

Protected Players: Devan Dubnyk, Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba, Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Jason Pominville, Eric Staal, Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, Jason Zucker.

Best Exposed Players: Charlie Coyle, Martin Hanzal, Erik Haula, Tyler Graovac, Jared Spurgeon, Marco Scandella, Gustav Olofsson, Darcy Kuemper.

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.

vegas golden knights

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.

Protected Players: Carey Price, Shea Weber, Jeff Petry, Alexei Emelin, Tomas Plekanec, Max Pacioretty, Andrew Shaw, Brendan Gallagher, Alex Galchenyuk, Paul Byron, Phillip Danault.

Best Exposed Players: Alexander Radulov, Dwight King, Jacob de la Rose, Daniel Carr, Charles Hudon, Stefan Matteau, Andrei Markov, Brandon Davidson, Jordie Benn, Nathan Beaulieu, Nikita Nesterov, Zach Redmond, Max Friberg.

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 Predators:
Protection Plan: 7-3-1.
Vegas Draft Pick: Ryan Ellis.

Protected Players: Pekka Rinne, P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, Filip Forsberg, James Neal, Mike Fisher, Ryan Johansen, Colin Wilson, Calle Jarnkrok, Viktor Arvidsson.

Best Exposed Players: Craig Smith, Mike Ribeiro, P.A. Parenteau, Colton Sissons, Miikka Salomaki, Ryan Ellis, Yannick Weber, Marek Mazanec, Adam Payerl, Austin Watson.

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.

Protected Players: Cory Schneider, Andy Greene, John Moore, Dalton Prout, Damon Severson, Taylor Hall, Travis Zajac, Mike Cammalleri, Adam Henrique.

Best Exposed Players: Kyle Palmieri, Devante Smith-Pelly, Jacob Josefson, Beau Bennett, Petr Straka, Shane Harper, Stefan Noesen, Ben Lovejoy, Jon Merrill, Seth Helgeson, Keith Kinkaid.

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.

Protected Players: Thomas Greiss, Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Ryan Pulock, Andrew Ladd, John Tavares, Anders Lee, Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome, Jason Chimera.

Best Exposed Players: Mikhail Grabovski, Nikolai Kulemin, Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck, Shane Prince, Alan Quine, Travis Hamonic, Thomas Hickey, Calvin de Haan, Jaroslav Halak, Jean-Francois Berube.

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.

Protected Players: Henrik Lundqvist, Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, J.T. Miller, Mika Zibanejad, Oscar Lindberg.

Best Exposed Players: Kevin Hayes, Michael Grabner, Brandon Pirri, Jesper Fast, Matt Puempel, Kevin Klein, Brendan Smith, Nick Holden, Antti Raanta, Mackenzie Skapski.

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.

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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 Senators:
Protection Plan: 7-3-1.
Vegas Draft Pick: Andrew Hammond.

Protected Players: Craig Anderson, Dion Phaneuf, Erik Karlsson, Cody Ceci, Bobby Ryan, Mike Hoffman, Derick Brassard, Alexandre Burrows, Mark Stone, Kyle Turris, Zack Smith.

Best Exposed Players: Clarke MacArthur, Tommy Wingels, Chris Neil, Viktor Stalberg, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Ryan Dzingel, Marc Methot, Mark Borowiecki, Jyrki Jokopakka, Patrick Sieloff, Chris Wideman, Fredrik Claesson, Andrew Hammond, Mike Condon.

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.

Protected Players: Steve Mason, Michael Del Zotto, Brandon Manning, Shayne Gostisbehere, Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Brayden Schenn, Valtteri Filppula, Sean Couturier, Wayne Simmonds, Scott Laughton.

Best Exposed Players: Matt Read, Dale Weise, Michael Raffl, Nick Cousins, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Jordan Weal, Andrew MacDonald, Radko Gudas, Michal Neuvirth, Anthony Stolarz.

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.

Pittsburgh Penguins:
Protection Plan: 4-4-1.
Vegas Draft Pick: Patric Hornqvist.

Protected Players: Matthew Murray, Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Mark Streit, Justin Schultz, Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Carl Hagelin.

Best Exposed Players: Patric Hornqvist, Chris Kunitz, Nick Bonino, Oskar Sundqvist, Scott Wilson, Tom Kuhnhackl, Trevor Daley, Ian Cole, Derrick Pouliot, Brian Dumoulin, Frank Corrado, Marc-Andre Fleury (NMC Waived).

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.

Protected Players: Martin Jones, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Brendan Dillon, Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, Mikkel Boedker, Tomas Hertl, Jannik Hansen.

Best Exposed Players: Joel Ward, Melker Karlsson, Chris Tierney, Micheal Haley, Paul Martin, Justin Braun, Mirco Mueller, Dylan DeMelo, Aaron Dell.

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.

Protected Players: Jake Allen, Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Joel Edmundson, Vladimir Tarasenko, Paul Stastny, Alex Steen, Jaden Schwartz, Jori Lehtera, David Perron, Patrik Berglund.

Best Exposed Players: Nail Yakupov, Ryan Reaves, Dmitrij Jaskin, Ty Rattie, Carl Gunnarsson, Petteri Lindbohm, Carter Hutton, Jordan Binnington.

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.

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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.

Protected Players: Andrei Vasilevskiy, Anton Stralman, Victor Hedman, Andrej Sustr, Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan, Nikita Kucherov, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Vladislav Namestnikov, Jonathan Drouin.

Best Exposed Players: Alex Killorn, Erik Condra, J.T. Brown, Cedric Paquette, Jason Garrison, Braydon Coburn, Slater Koekkoek, Jonathan Racine, Peter Budaj, Kristers Gudlevskis.

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.

Protected Players: Frederik Andersen, Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner, Alexey Marchenko, Connor Carrick, Nazem Kadri, James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, Connor Brown.

Best Exposed Players: Joffrey Lupul, Leo Komarov, Matt Martin, Brian Boyle, Eric Fehr, Kerby Rychel, Brendan Leipsic, Roman Polak, Martin Marincin, Matt Hunwick, Curtis McElhinney, Antoine Bibeau, Garret Sparks. Seth Griffith, Josh Leivo.

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.

Protected Players: Jacob Markstrom, Alexander Edler, Chris Tanev, Erik Gudbranson, Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Loui Eriksson, Brandon Sutter, Sven Baertschi, Markus Granlund, Bo Horvat.

Best Exposed Players: Derek Dorsett, Anton Rodin, Michael Chaput, Luca Sbisa, Philip Larsen, Ryan Miller, Richard Bachman.

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.

Protected Players: Braden Holtby, Matt Niskanen, John Carlson, Karl Alzner, Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom. Marcus Johansson, T.J. Oshie, Lars Eller, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky.

Best Exposed Players: Justin Williams, Daniel Winnik, Tom Wilson, Jay Beagle, Brooks Orpik, Kevin Shattenkirk, Dmitry Orlov, Philipp Grubauer.

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 Jets:
Protection Plan: 4-4-1.
Vegas Draft Pick: Mathieu Perreault.

Protected Players: Connor Hellebuyck, Dustin Byfuglien, Toby Enstrom, Tyler Myers, Jacob Trouba, Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, Adam Lowry.

Best Exposed Players: Mathieu Perreault, Shawn Matthias, Marko Dano, Joel Armia, Andrew Copp, J.C. Lipon, Mark Stuart, Paul Postma, Ondrej Pavelec, Michael Hutchinson, Quinton Howden.

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.

Projected Cap Hit: $54,887,500
Projected Cap Space: $18,112,500
Players Under Contract: 24/20

Roster:

Forwards:
Patric Hornqvist, Matt Read, Charlie Coyle, Mathieu Perreault, Leo Komarov, Marcus Foligno, Antoine Roussel, Tom Wilson, Mark Letestu, Erik Condra, William Karlsson, Dmitrij Jaskin, Colton Sceviour, Shane Prince, Sven Andrighetto, and Andreas Athanasiou.

Defenseman:
Kevin Bieksa, Justin Braun, Luca Sbisa, Kevin Klein, Ryan Ellis, Michael Stone, Brayden McNabb, Jon Merrill, Jordie Benn, and Joe Morrow.

Goaltenders:
Eddie Lack, Andrew Hammond, Louis Domingue, and Scott Darling.

Depth Chart:

Matt ReadWilliam KarlssonPatric Hornqvist
Leo Komarov – Charlie Coyle – Erik Condra
Marcus Foligno – Mathieu Perreault – Antoine Roussel
Dmitrij JaskinMark Letestu – Tom Wilson
Colton SceviourShane Prince – Andreas Anthanasiou
Sven Andrighetto

Ryan EllisKevin Bieksa
Jordie BennJustin Braun
Kevin Klein – Jon Merrill
Luca Sbisa – Michael Stone
Brayden McNabb – Joe Morrow

Scott Darling
Eddie Lack
Andrew Hammond
Louis Domingue

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!

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