Nashville is one of the truly deep teams with four defense man who form a cohesive unit. The playoffs were a testament to the skill of Nashville’s D core. Nashville must adopt the 8-1 method as opposed to the 7-3-1 for the draft or they will risk exposing one of their Top 4 D. Unless Nashville can negotiate a strong deal to sway Mcphee and Vegas, Nashville is in a pickle. Ekholm and Ellis are the two defenseman who would be ‘on the block’ as it were, if they adopted the 7-3-1. Their depth options at D truly made Nashville remarkable to watch.
Nashville’s defense is arguably the best in the league, making an unexpected departure from a key member devastating.
If Las Vegas is to get a skilled forward, they certainly will have their pick of depth talent in Nashville. The forwards applicable for drafting are:
Filip Forsberg, James Neal, Craig Smith, Colin Wilson, Calle Jarnkrok, Cody McLeod, Colton Sissons, Cody Bass, Miikka Salomaki, Trevor Smith, Ryan Johansen, Austin Watson, Pontus Aberg, Viktor Arvidsson
Likely Protected list. Forsberg, Johansen, Arivdsson, and according to some reports, Jarnkrok. This is if they adopt the 8-1 method. In this case it will be a 4-4-1.
Jarnkrok came out of nowhere seemingly this playoff season. He makes 2 million dollars per year until 2022. Hes affordable and shows huge promise and long term capabilities for Nashville. He is a must keep for the franchise long term. Vegas would see this and immediately scoop him up for budget depth options. Any player that immediately would be drafted by Vegas should be protected.
The most skilled guy with immediate talent left off that list is James Neal. That being said his contract expires next season and he will be making 5 million this season. He is also 29 years old and would not fit into the long term plan on Las Vegas, as they would get little return on him. He can play on the top line for Vegas as a winger, but he wouldn’t be a long term option for the club. He isn’t budget friendly either for the developing team and wouldn’t be the smartest pick.
Their best bet is either Colin Wilson or Craig Smith. Wilson is 27, had 35 points this season and showed depth talent on the Preds. From watching him play every other night in the playoffs he benefited from the extra time and role he had to embrace in the post season.
Craig Smith had 29 points this season and is also 27. Smith makes 4.2 and Wilson makes 3.9 million per year. Neither contract expires within the next 2 seasons.
Both are affordable options for Vegas as they can provide 2nd line minutes and probably top 30-35 points the next two seasons.
Keep in mind, this is only if Nashville adopts the 8-1, as I dubbed it before the 4-4-1 method to the expansion draft. Both guys could contribute to the Golden Knights and would be on the older end of likely players for next season. Hard to believe that 27 is old in the NHL.
The goalie to protect will obviously be Rinne. No discussion there, leaving Smith and Wilson as likely picks to be taken.
More to come.