NHL Expansion Draft: Vegas Golden Knights Selection Strategy

The protection lists for all NHL teams have been released. There are some major surprises, and that’s good for the Vegas Golden Knights. What is the best team available in the NHL Expansion Draft?

NHL Expansion Draft

New York Islanders forward John Tavares (91) plays the puck and Ottawa Senators defenseman Marc Methot (3)defends. Methot is available in the NHL Expansion Draft. (Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)

The Vegas Golden Knights have a few barriers to having their best roster in the NHL Expansion Draft.

They will make some trades, they will want to stay near the cap floor, and they just won’t take some contracts.

But what is the best possible team for the Golden Knights? Who, barring any outside influence from the NHL Expansion Draft, would be drafted?

And how would the Vegas Golden Knights look? What type of roster does this NHL Expansion Draft lead to?

Can the Golden Knights be competitive? Or do they draft for the future of the franchise, taking restricted free agents and young players?

(Oh, and by the way, sorry to Washington and Winnipeg fans. Through our NHL Expansion Draft strategy series, we didn’t get to you alphabetically [at least before the official lists were published]. My bad.)

NHL Expansion Draft

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Zach Bogosian (47) against the Tampa Bay Lightning (Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports)

Atlantic Division

Boston Bruins

Bruins Protect: David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Backes, Riley Nash, David Pastrnak, Ryan Spooner, Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Kevan Miller, Tuukka Rask.

Best available Bruins: Matt Beleskey, Jimmy Hayes, Tim Schaller, Adam McQuaid, Colin Miller, Joe Morrow, Malcolm Subban.

Vegas should take Colin Miller. To me, it seems like Boston protected the wrong Miller. Colin is on a 1 million dollar contract this year and will be a restricted free agent after.

Miller posted 13 points in 61 games, posting an extremely high Corsi in an extremely high amount of offensive zone shift starts.

Still, Miller shows potential, and I don’t really want Matt Beleskey or Jimmy Hayes.

Buffalo Sabres

Sabres Protect: Ryan O’Reilly, Kyle Okposo, Evander Kane, Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, Johan Larsson, Zemgus Girgensons, Rasmus Ristolainen, Jake McCabe, Nathan Beaulieu, Robin Lehner.

Best available Sabres: Matt Moulson, Nicolas Deslauriers, William Carrier, Zach Bogosian, Josh Gorges, Justin Falk, Linus Ullmark.

Vegas should take Zach Bogosian. Buffalo exposed Bogosian likely because of his contract – 5.142 million for the next three years.

Still, for an expansion team that needs consistency, Bogosian’s contract could look good. Besides, Bogosian has experience playing top 4 minutes and is just 26 years old.

And again, I’m not high on any of the forwards available.

Detroit Red Wings

Red Wings Protect: Henrik Zetterberg, Frans Nielsen, Gustav Nyquist, Justin Abdelkader, Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, Tomas Tatar, Mike Green, Danny DeKeyser, Nick Jensen, Jimmy Howard.

Best available Red Wings: Darren Helm, Niklas Kronwall, Xavier Ouellet, Petr Mrazek.

At best, Petr Mrazek is a backup goaltender on the Vegas Golden Knights roster. There are cheaper options to be had, and they had better 16-17 seasons. I don’t want to pay a backup 4 million.

Kronwall is a legend, and for a while was the partner of the best defenseman of the modern era (Niklas Lidstrom). Still, Kronwall has fallen off in his older age, playing just 19 minutes a night last season.

Still, Kronwall has fallen off in his older age, playing just 19 minutes a night last season. Add to that that his contract is unsustainable, it’s not a good mix.

Which leaves Helm, an expensive defensive center, and Ouellet, a defensive prospect. I’m taking Ouellet. Ouellet played 66 games last year, totaling 17 minutes a night.

Still, there will be plenty of room for Ouellet in the AHL, and hopefully the 23-year-old can continue his development with less pressure.

Florida Panthers

Panthers Protect: Jonathan Huberdeau, Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck, Nick Bjugstad, Aaron Ekblad, Keith Yandle, Mark Pysyk, Alex Petrovic, James Reimer.

Best available Panthers: Reilly Smith, Colton Sceviour, Jonathan Marchessault, Jason Demers, Roberto Luongo.

Reilly Smith. Just take Reilly Smith. Two fifty point seasons, he’s just 26, and he’s on a long-term contract. One of those fifty point seasons, by the way, came under Vegas coach Gerard Gallant.

You really gotta take Smith. I know Marchessault might seem enticing, but he has yet to prove whether he is a perennial 30-goal scorer or if it was just a fluke. If it was a fluke you miss out on Smith.

Not a risk worth taking, in my opinion.

Montreal Canadiens

Canadiens Protect: Jonathan Drouin, Max Pacioretty, Andrew Shaw, Brendan Gallagher, Paul Byron, Phillip Danault, Alex Galchenyuk, Shea Weber, Jeff Petry, Jordie Benn, Carey Price.

Best available Canadiens: Tomas Plekanec, Torrey Mitchell, Daniel Carr, Alexei Emelin.

The sad truth of this NHL Expansion Draft is that there is no number one center available. There’s nothing for the Vegas Golden Knights to instantly now: that’s a first liner.

Tomas Plekanec, even at 6 million, might be the closest they come to a first-line center. He’s played those minutes before in Montreal, it’s just that he’s aged.

Still, what else is there out of Montreal? Mitchell is a for-sure depth center (plenty of those), Carr can’t stay on the team, Emelin is an aging defenseman.

Ottawa Senators

Senators Protect: Mike Hoffman, Derick Brassard, Mark Stone, Kyle Turris, Zack Smith, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Ryan Dzingel, Dion Phaneuf, Erik Karlsson, Cody Ceci, Craig Anderson.

Best available Senators: Bobby Ryan, Clarke MacArthur, Alexandre Burrows, Marc Methot, Frederik Claesson.

It comes down to Ryan and MacArthur for me. One is a 30-year-old first line winger who’s contract is 7.25 million for the next 5 years.

One is a 31-year-old first pairing defenseman making 4.9 million for the next two.

It comes down to who Vegas believes is rarer. While I mentioned that there’s no first-line center available in the NHL Expansion Draft, there are some wingers.

And the Vegas defense is going to be young. They will need a leader, someone like Methot, who can step in and instantly be their #1 defenseman for the next two years.

It’s gotta be Methot.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Lightning Protect: Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan, Nikita Kucherov, Alex Killorn, Vladislav Namestnikov, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman, Braydon Coburn, Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Best available Lightning: J.T. Brown, Cedric Paquette, Michael Bournival, Jake Dotchin, Kristers Gudlevskis.

Jake Dotchin versus Cedric Paquette. Both are twenty-three, both are restricted free agents (Dotchin this year Paquette the next).

But one is infinitely more valuable for me: Jake Dotchin. In his 35 games this year, Dotchin posted totals of 11 points and 18 minutes a night. In his rookie season, Dotchin was playing 4th/5th defenseman minutes.

Which means his progress could lead to some pretty high places. I like what the future has in store for Dotchin more than Paquette, and Vegas should too.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Maple Leafs Protect: Nazem Kadri, James Van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov, Matt Martin, Josh Leivo, Connor Brown, Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner, Connor Carrick, Frederik Andersen.

Best available Leafs: Alexey Marchenko, Martin Marincin, Garret Sparks.

There’s one choice here. Martin Marincin is going to Las Vegas.

Marincin is a good young defenseman, at just 25, and played 18 minutes in the 25 games he played.

Marincin is also a defensive defenseman, which is always useful in the NHL. Despite his usual play, Marincin posted 7 points in those 25 games.

NHL Expansion Draft

New York Islanders center Ryan Strome (18) takes a backhanded shot (Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports)

Metropolitan Division

Carolina Hurricanes

Hurricanes Protect: Jordan Staal, Jeff Skinner, Victor Rask, Teuvo Teravainen, Elias Lindholm, Phillip Di Giuseppe, Brock McGinn, Justin Faulk, Ryan Murphy, Trevor Carrick, Scott Darling.

Best available Hurricanes: Lee Stempniak, Joakim Nordstrom, Klas Dahlbeck, Cam Ward.

So this becomes a competition between Lee Stempniak and Klas Dahlbeck. An older winger versus a young defenseman. Both a year away from free agency.

This time, though, I’m going with the old winger. Lee Stempniak, at 34, is still able to put up a good amount of points. In a full 82 game season in Carolina, Stempniak put up 40 points and 16 goals.

That type of play is going to be necessary for Vegas. Stempniak is a good pick in the NHL Expansion Draft.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Blue Jackets Protect: Brandon Saad, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Scott Hartnell, Cam Atkinson, Boone Jenner, Alexander Wennberg, Seth Jones, David Savard, Ryan Murray, Sergei Bobrovsky.

Best available Blue Jackets: Matt Calvert, William Karlsson, Lukas Sedlak, Josh Anderson, Jack Johnson, Joonas Korpisalo.

William Karlsson, Josh Anderson, Jack Johnson. Those are the three guys Vegas should consider most in the NHL Expansion Draft. Of course, it’s rumored CBJ has dealt a first for the protection of Josh Anderson.

Although this is a test of the best possible team regardless of outside influences. That first should tell you everything you need to know about Anderson.

At just 23, in his official rookie season, Anderson posted 29 points, including 17 goals. Surround him with better linemates and he should be good for more.

That’s why Vegas should/would take him. But as a better predictor, outside of Anderson, Johnson is one to watch. Capable of playing top pairing minutes, another defensive defenseman, and relatively young.

Johnson would make a good pairing for Marc Methot.

New Jersey Devils

Devils Protect: Taylor Hall, Travis Zajac, Adam Henrique, Kyle Palmieri, Andy Greene, John Moore, Damon Severson, Mirco Mueller, Cory Schneider.

Best available Devils: Mike Cammalleri, Devante Smith-Pelly, Beau Bennett, Ben Lovejoy, Jon Merrill, Scott Wedgewood.

Alright, here’s the thing about Beau Bennett. Yeah, I think Vegas should take Beau Bennett. 25 year old restricted free agent who should be cheap because of games played.

I know he’s injury plagued. But outside of that, Beau Bennett is a truly good player. In 65 games this season, Bennett had 19 points, 8 goals, and ridiculous possession stats.

I’m talking 53.4 Corsi despite a 53.9 defensive zone start percentage. That’s with Adam Henrique and Joseph Blandisi as his most played with line. Neither of them come close to Bennett’s numbers.

Gotta take Beau Bennett here based off of potential.

New York Islanders

Islanders Protect: Andrew Ladd, John Tavares, Anders Lee, Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Travis Hamonic, Ryan Pulock, Adam Pelech, Thomas Greiss.

Best available Islanders: Nikolai Kulemin, Casey Cizikas, Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome, Thomas Hickey, Calvin De Haan.

The finalists from the Islanders are Ryan Strome and Calvin De Haan. I know everybody thinks the Golden Knights should draft Josh Bailey, but he only put up 13 goals.

Put him with anybody besides John Tavares and I don’t know how he does. Plus, Bailey is 27 and overpaid for those 13 goals.

Strome is a 23-year-old center who two years ago put up 50 points. He scored 13 goals and 17 assists this year, as he saw his minutes decrease.

But out of all Islanders, I believe that Ryan Strome is the one with the most potential. Again, he’s just 23 and he’s proved himself capable of big seasons.

He’ll play with better linemates than he currently has in New York. Vegas has to think about the future as well as the present, and Strome makes a good trade bait in addition.

Calvin De Haan isn’t a bad option either. He’s a defensive defenseman, something the Golden Knights will see a lot of, but he’s good at his job. And he posted 25 points.

New York Rangers

Rangers Protect: Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, J.T. Miller, Kevin Hayes, Mika Zibanejad, Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh, Nick Holden, Henrik Lundqvist.

Best available Rangers: Michael Grabner, Oscar Lindberg, Jesper Fast, Antti Raanta.

It’s Raanta. The Golden Knights must take 3 goaltenders in this draft. If Raanta isn’t one of the best 3 goaltenders in this NHL expansion draft (he is) he’s on one of the best three contracts. And he’s just 28.

The Knights, once again, must plan for their future. While Marc-Andre Fleury is (very) likely their current goaltender, they’ll need one for the future. Raanta could be that future goaltender.

At the very least, Raanta is a great backup.

Philadelphia Flyers

Flyers Protect: Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Brayden Schenn, Valtteri Filppula, Sean Couturier, Wayne Simmonds, Scott Laughton, Shayne Gostisbehere, Radko Gudas, Brandon Manning, Anthony Stolarz.

Best available Flyers: Michael Raffl, Andrew MacDonald, Michal Neuvirth.

Michael Raffl. The Knights have to draft 14 forwards, and they’ve got a jump start on defensemen. Besides, there isn’t much left on this Flyers team.

But if we’re picking the meat off a bone, then it could be worse than Raffl. Yes, he had very few points – 11 in 52 games. But 8 of those were goals.

Raffl is another example of a player in need of better linemates. And he’s younger and cheaper than Matt Read, and his contract goes one more year.

In the necessity that is picking from Philadelphia in the NHL expansion draft, Raffl makes sense.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Penguins Protect: Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Justin Schultz, Brian Dumoulin, Matt Murray.

Best available Penguins: Carl Hagelin, Bryan Rust, Ian Cole, Derrick Pouliot, Marc-Andre Fleury.

Starting goaltender. That’s what Vegas needs, and it’s right there in the form of Fleury. When he waived his NMC, he knew he was Vegas bound.

And he’ll get a chance to play. A fresh start, hopefully, somewhere where a new Matt Murray won’t take his spot again.

Fleury’s a great starting goaltender. And he’s the best pick for Vegas in the NHL Expansion Draft.

Washington Capitals

Capitals Protect: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, Lars Eller, Tom Wilson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Matt Niskanen, John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov, Braden Holtby.

Best available Capitals: Nate Schmidt, Philipp Grubauer.

Nate Schmidt is a solid young defenseman. Grubauer is a solid young goaltender. Both are currently restricted free agents, both are 25.

I personally would take Grubauer. There’s a lot of noise out there about Nate Schmidt, though. But there are younger defensemen in the NHL Expansion Draft. There are no better younger goaltenders in the NHL Expansion Draft.

If Raanta isn’t the goaltender of the future for the Golden Knights, then Grubauer is. In my opinion, Vegas has to draft Grubauer.

NHL Expansion Draft

Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher (11) plays the puck and Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk (57) defends (Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)

Central Division

Chicago Blackhawks

Blackhawks Protect: Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Artem Anisimov, Richard Panik, Ryan Hartman, Tomas Jurco, Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson, Corey Crawford.

Best available Blackhawks: Marcus Kruger, Dennis Rasmussen, Trevor Van Riemsdyk.

It’s down to Marcus Kruger and Trevor Van Riemsdyk (in reality, Vegas is rumored to have both). I’d take Trevor Van Riemsdyk because he’s younger and cheaper and longer in team control.

Now, allow me to vent about one of the selections. Tomas Jurco? Really? Not Dennis Rasmussen, one of three players who scored in the playoffs for the Blackhawks?

The future fourth line center for Chicago? Not over a guy who’s role is undefined and didn’t play well at all for Chicago? Who missed all games in the playoffs?

Eh. Rasmussen is staying anyway.

Colorado Avalanche

Avalanche Protect: Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Blake Comeau, Rocco Grimaldi, Sven Andrighetto, Matt Nieto, Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie, Nikita Zadorov, Semyon Varlamov.

Best available Avalanche: Mikhail Grigorenko, Calvin Pickard

You’ve already seen the Golden Knights draft the necessary three goaltenders. So now the test – do they draft another one so they have a piece to trade, or do they take a forward for offense?

It depends on how good the forward is. Grigorenko is young, turning 23 a month ago, and he has room to improve.

A season after putting up 27 points, he put up 23 with more goals. I’d be happy with Grigorenko. Plus, he’s a restricted free agent.

Vegas could potentially take Grigorenko in the NHL Expansion Draft.

Dallas Stars

Stars Protect: Jamie Benn, Jason Spezza, Tyler Seguin, Antoine Roussel, Brett Ritchie, Radek Faksa, Valeri Nichushkin, John Klingberg, Stephen Johns, Esa Lindell, Ben Bishop.

Best available Stars: Cody Eakin, Ales Hemsky, Jamie Oleksiak, Patrik Nemeth.

I think this one is between Cody Eakin and Jamie Oleksiak. The Golden Knights will see plenty of young defensemen in this NHL expansion draft.

Eakin is a warrior. One capable of putting up 40 points given the necessary minutes. And he can play penalty kill time. He’s 26, and should he stay healthy, 40 is within his grasp again.

The Golden Knights should take Cody Eakin. He can be a middle 6 center and elevate his linemates. And he’s scored 19 goals in a season before.

Minnesota Wild

Wild Protect: Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Jason Pominville, Charlie Coyle, Jason Zucker, Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund, Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Jonas Brodin, Devan Dubnyk.

Best available Wild: Eric Staal, Erik Haula, Marco Scandella, Matt Dumba.

The Golden Knights take Matt Dumba. He’s good on both ends of the ice, and as we’ve seen from the rest of the NHL expansion draft, there’s not a ton of that on defense,

Dumba’s also just 22 and is making 2.55 million until next year when he’s a restricted free agent. A few more years of team control isn’t a bad thing.

Nashville Predators

Predators Protect: Filip Forsberg, Calle Jarnkrok, Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson, PK Subban, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis, Pekka Rinne.

Best available Predators: James Neal, Craig Smith, Colton Sissons, Pontus Aberg, Austin Watson, Yannick Weber.

The Golden Knights should take a long, deep look at James Neal and then commit. 5 million for a 29-year-old forward who put up 23 goals and 18 assists in his last season.

The last season he played 81 games, Neal put up 31 goals and 58 points. He’s a great forward and he should be a great Golden Knight.

Take him in the NHL expansion draft.

St. Louis Blues

Blues Protect: Vladimir Tarasenko, Paul Stastny, Alexander Steen, Jaden Schwartz, Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Sobotka, Ryan Reaves, Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Joel Edmundson, Jake Allen.

Best available Blues: David Perron, Dmitrij Jaskin, Kyle Brodziak, Magnus Paajarvi.

So the Golden Knights are taking a Blues forward in the NHL Expansion Draft. But which one.

Jaskin and Paajarvi are the youngest. Jaskin continues to have disappointing seasons, posting just 11 points in 51 games.

Paajarvi got more points in fewer games. 13 in 32, including 8 goals. He posted 3 points, including 2 goals, in the playoffs.

Perron and Brodziak are older. Still, Perron scored 46 points in 82 games this year. Brodziak posted just 15 in 69.

It’s down to Perron and Paajarvi. They could take Perron for the present or Paajarvi for the future. There’s been a lot of picks for both so far in this NHL expansion draft.

But 46 points is hard to pass up. Vegas should take Perron.

Winnipeg Jets

Jets Protect: Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, Mathieu Perreault, Adam Lowry, Joel Armia, Andrew Copp, Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers, Jacob Trouba, Connor Hellebuyck.

Best available Jets: Marko Dano, Toby Enstrom, Ben Chiarot, Michael Hutchinson.

Marko Dano is only making 850K next year in what seems like a handover deal for the Vegas Golden Knights. By that I mean, that contract seems like it was made for the NHL Expansion Draft.

A young center who’s still an RFA for a while on a cheap contract? Plus Dano put up 11 points in 38 games, including 4 goals. He played on the power play and still started 55% of his shifts in the defensive zone.

Dano has versatility and potential, still just 22. Vegas would be wise to take him off a lackluster Jets list.

NHL Expansion Draft

Anaheim Ducks right wing Ondrej Kase (86) celebrates with defenseman Josh Manson (42) after scoring a goal (Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports)

Pacific Division

Anaheim Ducks

Ducks Protect: Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg, Andrew Cogliano, Antoine Vermette, Hampus Lindholm, Cam Fowler, Kevin Bieksa, John Gibson.

Best available Ducks: Logan Shaw, Chris Wagner, Sami Vatanen, Josh Manson.

So it’s down to a defenseman from the Ducks in this NHL Expansion Draft. Away from the influences of a probable deal, Anaheim offers two great, young prospects.

Vatanen, 26, is a top-pairing worthy defenseman making just 4.875 million until 2020. That’s a good contract for a good defenseman. 24 points, 21 minutes, 6 points in the playoffs, 22 minutes.

Manson is a year younger, becomes a restricted free agent next year, and thus would likely have more years under team control. He’s a better defensive defenseman, and didn’t score many points.

I want Vatanen if I’m Vegas outside of exterior influences in the NHL Expansion Draft.

Arizona Coyotes

Coyotes Protect: Tobias Rieder, Jordan Martinook, Anthony Duclair, Nick Cousins, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Goligoski, Connor Murphy, Luke Schenn, Chad Johnson.

Best available Coyotes: Jamie McGinn, Alexander Burmistrov, Louis Domingue.

Burmistrov is the best available Coyote here. In 26 games with the Coyotes, he put up 14 points in 26 games. In those games, his minutes jumped from 11 with the Jets to 15.

Burmistrov is also young, just 25, and he is a restricted free agent. That’s NHL expansion draft material.

But the Coyotes luckily escape with a mostly exempt roster.

Calgary Flames

Flames Protect: Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Michael Frolik, Mikael Backlund, Micheal Ferland, Curtis Lazar, Sam Bennett, Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, TJ Brodie, Mike Smith.

Best available Flames: Troy Brouwer, Matt Stajan, Hunter Shinkaruk, Alex Chiasson.

It comes down to, for me, Shinkaruk versus Chiasson. Brouwer is overpriced, Stajan too old. Chiasson and Shinkaruk are still in their restricted free agent years.

In 81 games last year, Chiasson posted 24 points, including 12 goals. Shinkaruk stayed in the minors, apart from seven games in which he posted just 1 assist.

Still, Shinkaruk is 4 years younger, a center instead of a wing, and should be much cheaper.

But in the interest of creating the best team – we know what Chiasson is. We don’t know what Shinkaruk could be.

Edmonton Oilers

Oilers Protect: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Milan Lucic, Jordan Eberle, Mark Letestu, Patrick Maroon, Zack Kassian, Leon Draisaitl, Andrej Sekera, Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Cam Talbot.

Best available Oilers: Benoit Pouliot, Griffin Reinhart, Laurent Brossoit.

It’s between two younger prospects – Griffin Reinhart at defense and Laurent Brossoit at goaltender. The Golden Knights will have plenty of prospects on defense.

No such luck at goaltending. Brossoit, one of the youngest goaltenders available in the NHL Expansion Draft, will be an interesting prospect to watch.

And it’s because of his youth and his position that I believe he will be picked by Vegas. He’s played less than 10 games in each of the last three seasons, serving as the official backup last year as Talbot started 73 games.

Brossoit looked really good in his 8 games. With four of those being starts, Brossoit had 4 wins, a .928 SV% and a 1.99 GAA.

He’s a restricted free agent next year and is currently making just 750,000 this year. Both of those should be attractive for Vegas.

Los Angeles Kings

Kings Protect: Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson, Drew Doughty, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin, Derek Forbort, Jonathan Quick.

Best available Kings: Trevor Lewis, Nic Dowd, Nick Shore, Brayden McNabb, Jack Campbell.

The Vegas Golden Knights will take one of Dowd/Shore/McNabb in the NHL Expansion Draft. It’s just a matter of which one is better for the team.

I don’t believe that McNabb is as useful as everybody says he is. There’s a lot of rumors out right now that he’s who Vegas favors, and I don’t think that should be believed.

See, at 26, McNabb played just 49 games. He played only 15 minutes – fine for younger defensemen like Matt Dumba, but at 26, not great – and he put up just 4 points.

And he’s an offensive defenseman. He was deployed with a 64.7 offensive zone start. All his possession stats must be put into that context, and again, just 4 points.

Nick Shore is younger, played more games, posted more points, started fewer shifts in the offensive zone (not hard) and had decent possession stats.

While next year McNabb is an unrestricted free agent, Nick Shore is a restricted free agent now. If I’m drafting Vegas I’m preferring Shore.

San Jose Sharks

Sharks Protect: Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Tomas Hertl, Melker Karlsson, Jannik Hansen, Ryan Carpenter, Chris Tierney, Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Justin Braun, Martin Jones.

Best available Sharks: Mikkel Boedker, Joel Ward, Paul Martin, Dylan DeMelo, Aaron Dell.

Mikkel Boedker. Dell is an older backup, Martin’s far past his prime, DeMelo can’t stay out of the press box.

But Boedker has a successful history of play in the NHL. Yes, he didn’t fit on this Sharks roster. But this Sharks roster was set without him – they went further in the playoffs without him than with.

Boedker can go back to being a top 6 forward with Vegas. And as a top 6 forward, Boedker has two seasons of 51 points. He’s still just 27. And overpayment isn’t yet a problem for Vegas.

Vancouver Canucks

Canucks Protect: Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Loui Eriksson, Brandon Sutter, Sven Baertschi, Markus Granlund, Bo Horvat, Alexander Edler, Christopher Tanev, Erik Gudbranson, Jacob Markstrom.

Best available Canucks: Brendan Gaunce, Reid Boucher, Luca Sbisa, Richard Bachman.

This a young corps of available players. Gaunce is just 23, Boucher is also 23, Sbisa is 27, Bachman 29.

I’m considering Gaunce and Boucher the most in this group. There’s no reason for Vegas to take Sbisa, who’s a liability on the ice.

His possession numbers are awful and he had 50 giveaways. I don’t recommend paying over 3 million for that. Sorry, Vancouver.

Out of these two, I like Boucher. Gaunce had 0 goals in his 57 games last season. Boucher, on the other hand, had 6 goals in 39 games across three teams, including 5 goals in 27 games with Vancouver.

They’re the same age, and Boucher made less last year.

NHL Expansion Draft

Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba (24) passes in the second period against the St Louis Blues (Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports)

The Vegas Roster

Forwards: Tomas Plekanec (MTL), James Neal (NSH), Reilly Smith (FLA), Mikkel Boedker (SJS), Cody Eakin (DAL), David Perron (STL), Lee Stempniak (CAR), Michael Raffl (PHI), Marko Dano (WPG),

Restricted Free Agents: Alex Chiasson (CGY), Beau Bennett (NJD), Nick Shore (LAK), Reid Boucher (VAN), Alexander Burmistrov (ARI), Mikhail Grigorenko (COL)

Defensemen: Zach Bogosian (BUF), Marc Methot (OTT), Sami Vatanen (ANA), Jack Johnson (CBJ), Matt Dumba (MIN), Martin Marincin (TOR), Colin Miller (BOS), Trevor Van Riemsdyk (CHI)

Restricted Free Agents: Calvin De Haan (NYI), Jake Dotchin (TBL), Xavier Ouellet (DET)

Goaltenders: Marc-Andre Fleury (PIT), Antti Raanta (NYR), Laurent Brossoit (EDM), Philipp Grubauer (WSH)

Can This Roster Come to Be?

No, there are a couple things blocking the road to this perfect NHL Expansion Draft roster. One, it’s too expensive.

Vegas is almost certainly going to take contracts worth a certain amount of money – they’re going to try and get as close to the cap floor as possible.

They hope, below it. And then make trades like for Marcus Kruger and David Clarkson to reach it. Vegas is going to be one of the cheaper franchises for a while.

Two, teams are going to make deals to make sure these great players aren’t taken. Anaheim doesn’t want to see Vatanen or Manson go – that’s why they didn’t trade them.

Vegas should take advantage of this – get as many first round picks as you can. Try and get most of them for next year, a deeper draft.

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