Both drafts this year are extremely critical for the success of the Las Vegas Golden Knights. As the expansion draft nears, the focus has shifted from which players will be protected to players that will be selected.
Subsequently, the NHL entry draft will also make a huge splash in the Golden Knights Roster.
Keep in mind prior to any trades, Las Vegas will select 6th for the Draft.
According to extremely popular rumors around the league, Las Vegas has acquired the New York Islanders 1st round pick from this season. Similarly they have acquired the Columbus Blue Jackets 1st round pick.
Both these picks come with the caveat that Vegas will refrain from specific players, and turn their attention elsewhere.
Over one year ago on the Pulp Hockey Podcast, George Mcphee stated his long term plan for the team as he would begin to run the franchise.
“You win with players you draft” states Mcphee. This was echoed throughout the numerous interviews that Mcphee held over the previous few months. With three picks in the first round, the stars have aligned for Mcphee and the Golden Knights.
As we know in the draft order, the Islanders would have selected 15th, and the Blue Jackets would have selected 24th. Not places where a franchise player would be selected, but there is always a chance these players can pan out at the NHL level.
The benefit of having depth options from the young players is that they cost virtually nothing to play during their entry level contracts. If Vegas can cultivate a team of cost effective young talent they could genuinely build a franchise that could contend for a playoff spot in a few years’ time.
Mcphee stated that “Drafting well and having young players pushing from the bottom are essential”. Keep in mind Mcphee was the GM in Washington prior to their president’s cup reign. He drafted Ovie, and cultivated young talent in Burakovsky, Kuznetzov and John Carlsson. His ability to draft and forecast young talent will be showcased this year with a number of options in just the first round.
Mcphee acknowledges that it is hard to get free agents at the point, saying “If you build your team with free agents you aren’t doing it right”.
“You can negotiate your way out of this if you wish,” Mcphee told reporters Sunday, according to Stephen Whyno. “Every team in this league has a chance to protect their roster.”
Several teams were forced to leave key players exposed to potential selection by the Golden Knights ahead of Wednesday night’s expansion draft, but as McPhee amusingly made clear, the clubs are welcome to arrange side deals to prevent Vegas from picking players the original teams don’t want to lose.
This would be a mutually beneficial move for some teams as they can forgo some future prospects in lieu of losing present value. This also benefits Mcphee as he can allow new talent to enter the pipeline in Las Vegas.
For the time being, it’s the Golden Knights’ world, and the 30 other teams are just living in it. McPhee confirmed Sunday that he’s already fielding calls from teams interested in drafting players for the Golden Knights, but he said the clubs need to give him something better than the players Vegas can claim from those teams.
Ideally more picks would flow in the direction of Vegas, and allow George Mcphee’s Las Vegas Golden Knights to cultivate more young talent.