Vegas Golden Knights: The Playoffs are Almost Over! And With 12 days Left Until the Expansion Draft, We Bring You A Whole New Mock!
Welcome to a brand new Vegas Golden Knights mock draft, the season has ended and the playoffs are nearing completion meaning a new perspective on exposed players is now available. So who would the following 30 teams protect and leave exposed? Well, you’ll have to look to find out.
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May 16, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Anaheim Ducks right wing Jakob Silfverberg (33) reacts after a goal by Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi (59) during the third period in game three of the Western Conference Final of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
In this mock I’m going to be using two protection plans, the 7-3-1 scheme which covers seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie. And a 4-4-1 scheme which covers four forwards, four defensemen and one goalie. I also have a few players waiving their NMC’s (no movement clause) in order for teams to protect someone younger and more influential players on the team. At the bottom, I’m going to post the full roster and possible depth chart.
Anaheim is in a tough position moving forward, whichever plan they go with they are going to lose someone good in my 4-4-1 plan I atleast having them save four important defensemen and offenseman. With the condition pick some like Josh Manson can be protected.
With the imminent retirement of Zdeno Chara coming, the Bruins would be able to protect three solid defenseman and their top seven forwards. They could use a conditional pick to protect Malcolm Subban though, which leaves Vegas open to choosing someone like Matt Beleskey.
Buffalo has a lot of defenseman that need protection since it’s their biggest weakness, so the only plan would be a 4-4-1 scheme. This plan though would still leave some quality forwards on the table, which is okay since the team has a lot of young forwards ready to take over. Now the best selection due to cap space would be someone like Nicolas Deslauriers.
Vegas only gets one pick which means a lot of the Flames exposed players won’t be going anywhere so there isn’t much to worry about, but out of them all the best choice is Matt Bartkowski who has a low cap hit and is still quite useful.
Apr 12, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Cam Atkinson (13) skates with the puck against the Pittsburgh Penguins during the third period in game one of the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG PAINTS Arena. The Penguins won 3-1.Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
When Carolina acquired Scott Darling from the Blackhawks this left options open regarding Eddie Lack and Cam Ward. Now with Carolina and cap space, Cam Ward is the best option moving forward for the Knights and this also gives them a solid A/B starter.
Columbus had a terrific year that seen a lot of the young players rise to the occasion, one player they would be willing to let go of would be Cam Atkinson since they’ll likely protect Lukas Sedlak with a conditional pick.
Ben Bishop was recently acquired which means one of the two past goaltenders is on their way out, now Dallas could likely use a pick to protect Lehtonen to be a backup since Niemi isn’t what he used to be. So with that in mind the best player the Knights could take from Dallas is Antoine Roussel.
With the rise of Nick Jensen this season the Red Wings have to go with a 4-4-1 plan. Now with all of the solid players the Red Wings still have left over the Knights can only pick one player and there best choice is Riley Sheahan who is still young with top six potential.
Edmonton is another team who had a surprising year, especially in the playoffs. This put a huge target on Mark Letestu which means the Oilers have to protect him, but in doing so this leaves someone decent exposed. Now due to cap reasons the best choice for the Knights would be Mark Fayne.
Some of the defenseman the Panthers picked up via free agency didn’t quite step up to the plate but are ready for a rebound next season this makes Jason Demers intriguing to the Knights making him a solid choice.
Los Angeles Kings: Protection Plan: 4-4-1 Vegas Draft Pick:Brayden McNabb
Los Angeles had some solid defenseman step up for the team last season which leaves them with a 4-4-1 plan. Now out of Pearson, Purcell, Brown, Nolan, and Shore one will likely be saved with a conditional pick which leaves defenseman Brayden McNabb or one of those five open for the pickings.
Minnesota is in a very tough position, they impressed all year and had great scoring from every single line. Now the question is who do they protect? A 7-3-1 plan is the best idea in my opinion since a lot of that scoring is just going to get better. However, this means a solid defenseman, or two, will be left exposed. And which one would fit the Knights? I would have to say Spurgeon he’s the most skilled out of him and Dumba with the most upside.
Apr 30, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Nashville Predators center Calle Jarnkrok (19) looks to pass the puck against the St. Louis Blues in game three of the second round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Luckily for the Canadiens the best exposed players are mostly fringe players that would be hard to move in the first place. This is good news because whoever they lose can easily be replaced, and I have the Knights selecting defenseman Brandon Davidson who is cheap and has upside.
Nashville is another team that’s in quite the predicament, they’ve made it to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in franchise history and a lot of that has to do with the talent spread throughout their four lines. Now if you see who I have protected and what sort of scheme I used in order to do so you would also see five solid players are unfortunately exposed, now with a conditional pick the Preds could save defenseman Mattias Ekholm which would leave the Knights with a solid player in Jarnkrok.
New Jersey Devils: Protection Plan: 4-4-1 Vegas Draft Pick:Dalton Prout
Another team that doesn’t really have much to worry about in regards of who to choose and what plan to go with since all of their exposed guys are fringe players anyways. This leaves the team with a solid 4-4-1 plan to protect what’s important at the moment leaving the Knights with a depth pick in Dalton Prout.
New York Islanders: Protection Plan: 7-3-1 Vegas Draft Pick:Anders Lee
Same with New Jersey, the Islanders are in much of the same position. The only players that pose a risk of being taken are Anders Lee, Jason Chimera, Alan Quine, Travis Hamonic, and Calvin de Haan. So now it comes down to who the Islanders would keep with a pick and my money is on a defenseman since they have the offensive pieces in the AHL. Which leaves Anders Lee a solid choice.
New York Rangers: Protection Plan: 7-3-1 Vegas Draft Pick:Kevin Hayes
After a post-season that was rather mediocre, whoever gets chosen by the Knights isn’t that big of a deal for a team that will be doing a little shuffling around anyways. So with who is left over, the best option for Vegas is Kevin Hayes.
May 28, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury (29) in goal at Penguins practice during media day before the start of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final at PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Ottawa Senators: Protection Plan: 4-4-1 Vegas Draft Pick:Zack Smith
Another team who did surprisingly well in the post-season are the Senators and with a 4-4-1 plan they can hold onto their four biggest assets from front to back. However, if you see the exposed list you’ll notice some guys that are good and up for grabs. But if the Sens were to use a pick on anyone it would either be Mike Hoffman or Jean-Gabriel Pageau. And for the Knights this means grabbing up center Zack Smith.
Philadelphia Flyers: Protection Plan: 7-3-1 Vegas Draft Pick:Radko Gudas
Good thing for Philly is they don’t have a lot of quality left exposed after a 7-3-1 plan. And with this year’s past Worlds where Gudas punched his captain in the face (Giroux), it wouldn’t be too surprising if he was moved anyways. So why not let him go to Vegas?
Regardless of plan or how the expansion goes or if the Pens win the Cup this year or not, they’re gonna have to rebuild which means some pretty decent players are left exposed or would have to be moved anyways. Now with Matt Murray once again pushing Fleury out of the net showing it’s his time in the igloo, Fleury could re-ignite himself as the Knights starter.
Great news for the Sharks is that after a 7-3-1 plan, they only have three guys worth picking up. Now Haley or Tierney will likely be protected with a conditional pick meaning Melker Karlsson is up for grabs.
Yet another team that doesn’t have much to worry about after they choose their plan. When you look at the leftover exposed list you can see there isn’t much to choose from, but rules are rules and the Knights must choose. So this is why I have them taking sixth/seventh defenseman Robert Bortuzzo.
Mar 30, 2017; Tampa, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning right wing J.T. Brown (23) celebrates after scoring a goal against the Detroit Red Wings during the first period at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Tampa Bay Lightning: Protection Plan: 7-3-1 Vegas Draft Pick:J.T. Brown
Toronto is in a tricky position with how much youth is left exposed in regards to the future with guys like Leipsic, Rychel, Leivo, Marincin, Marchenko, Bibeau, and Sparks. The question is will Vegas take one of these AHLers who has yet to stick with the big club or take someone who can help the team. My odds are on someone who can help the team, and while he’s been in the press box a lot for Toronto, Marincin is still a potential six or seven d-man.
Vancouver Canucks: Protection Plan: 7-3-1 Vegas Draft Pick:Sven Baertschi
Like quite a few other teams on this list, Vancouver doesn’t have much in terms of who to take after a solid 7-3-1 plan. Now Markstrom has played solid and is likely to be protected with a conditional draft choice, so I have the Knights selecting depth winger Sven Baertschi.
Washington Capitals: Protection Plan: 7-3-1 Vegas Draft Pick:Taylor Chorney
The players that bring the most worry of being taken when it comes to Washington is Tom Wilson, Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, T.J. Oshie, and Philipp Grubauer. Now out of all of those guys I would use a pick on Oshie since the Caps need him, this leaves Vegas with a top nine forward or a top four defenseman if they make other moves and provide the cap space. However, if they cannot do so depth defenseman Taylor Chorney would work, he’s cheap and reliable.
Winnipeg is yet another team that doesn’t have much to lose after they use the 7-3-1 plan. So who should Vegas take with what’s left over? Michael Hutchinson, let him develop in Chicago until Ward retires.
May 21, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Ottawa Senators center Zack Smith (15) takes the ice for warm-ups before playing the Pittsburgh Penguins in game five of the Eastern Conference Final of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs at the PPG PAINTS Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Projected Cap Hit: $72,250,000 Projected Cap Space: $750,000 Players Under Contract: 30/20
The Golden Knights are going to be competitive right out of the gate which is good because they won’t be getting thrashed game in and game out. But on the opposite side of that coin, isn’t better to build a team through hard work rather than picking players off other teams? Either way, next season is going to be a good one for the Knights.