Vegas Golden Knights: Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
With the Vegas Golden Knights official inception less than a season away, just how could the team potentially look? I’ve included explanations for 30 picks with a final expansion roster.
It’s been quite awhile since there has been an NHL expansion, 17 years to be exact. A lot of people are excited but not with the fact there is a new team but the fact of wondering who will end up on it. So who could the Vegas Golden Knights go after? Well, there’s a lot of options and quite a few solid players with NMC’s or Limited NMC’s and with the league getting younger, a current NHL team may just ask a player to waive one of theirs in order to keep their team young and competitive.
In this article, we’re going to select a player from each team, show the depth chart from said team. However, the roster has to have at least 20 players under contract going into next year and the Knights have to draft a team of 30.
The majority of Chicago’s defense are either pending UFA/RFA’s after this season or have NMC’s that won’t be asked to be waived. However on the offensive end they do have quite a few solid players that need to be protected leaving the team with a 7-3-1 plan and with this plan they will be able to protect Patrick Kane (NMC), Jonathan Toews (NMC), Marian Hossa (NMC), Artem Anisimov (NMC), Ryan Hartman, Marcus Kruger, Andrew Desjardins, Duncan Keith (NMC), Brent Seabrook (NMC), Niklas Hjalmarsson (NMC), and Corey Crawford. Since the Hawks would be protecting someone like Crawford over Scott Darling expect them to spend a pick in order to protect him, so the next best player available for the picking would be young defenseman Trevor Van Riemsdyk, he’s signed through next season then becomes an RFA, so the Knights could use him for the year, if he performs well send him a tender offer if he doesn’t allow someone to take him for compensation.
Vegas Golden Knights: Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall (55) passes the puck against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the second period of the game two of the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Amalie Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Vegas Golden Knights: Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis (4) against the San Jose Sharks in game six of the second round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena. The Predators won 4-3. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Vegas Golden Knights: Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Derrick Pouliot (51) skates up ice against the Philadelphia Flyers during the first period at the CONSOL Energy Center. The Flyers won 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Another team who has the luxury of having more top forwards exposed than defenseman is the Flyers. So it’s safe to suggest the team will most likely go with a 7-3-1 plan in order to protect the likes of Claude Giroux (NMC), Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn, Matt Read, Scott Laughton, Shayne Gostisbehere, Mark Streit, Brandon Manning, and Anthony Stolarz. Now, this would also leave key goalie Steve Mason unprotected which the Flyers could easily use a pick to help protect him, the reason Anthony is on the main protection list is because he is a much younger goalie with a high potential upside. But with Mason and Stolarz as his backup, the Flyers are in good hands when it comes to the net. This would leave the Knights with a very solid fourth line winger who would provide some much-needed grit and protection to the team, so the choice of Dale Weise is quite obvious.
Vegas Golden Knights: Winnipeg Jets goalie Michael Hutchinson (34) makes a save prior to the game between the Winnipeg Jets and the Boston Bruins at MTS Centre. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Fedyck-USA TODAY Sports
Yet again another team has to resort to a 7-3-1 plan for the same reason as the other teams, they have more key players up front that need to be protected than they do on the backend. With this plan, the Canucks can hold onto Daniel Sedin (NMC), Henrik Sedin (NMC), Loui Eriksson (NMC), Bo Horvat, Markus Granlund, Alex Burrows, Jannik Hansen, Erik Gudbranson, Alex Edler, Chris Tanev, and Jacob Markstrom. The reason Markstrom is protected over Miller is due to the fact that he is most likely going to be moved and has had quite the up and down season often leaving the net to Jacob (where he shined). So while the Knights defense has started to round itself out, the team would need another depth forward with the potential of moving up in the lineup and help contribute to the team, so their best pick is Jack Skille.
So either way, you look at things, the Knights are going to have a very competitive well-balanced team right from the get-go. This isn’t including what they decide to do at the trade deadline since the team will be able to start making moves March 1st. Next season should prove quite interesting, but most of the anticipation will happen in the coming months all the way until mid-August. We also have to keep in mind what the teams potential AHL affiliate may look like as well.