The Las Vegas Golden Knights will reveal their expansion team during the NHL Awards on Wednesday evening. Just for fun, we took a shot at drafting their team, using the wonderful tool courtesy of CapFriendly.
Share your team in the comments, lets see how close we get.
Samwell9’s Las Vegas Golden Knights ($62.1 M Cap Hit for 2017-18 Season)
James Neal (NSH) - Ryan Strome (NYI)- David Perron (STL)
Matt Moulson (BUF) - Tomas Plekanec (MTL)- Mike Cammelari (NJ)
Lee Stempniak (CAR)- Cody Eakin (DAL) - Jordan Weal (PHI)
Marko Dano (WPG)- Mikhail Grigorenko (COL) - Kerby Rychel (TOR)
Extra Forwards: Hunter Shinkaruk (CGY), Brendan Gaunce (VAN), Teemu Pulkinnen (ARI)
*Already Owned: Vadim Shipachyov, Reid Duke
A decent scoring line, a line of expensive veterans that have played well in the past and do not have a lot of term on their deals, a decent third line and a young 4th line with some upside. 3 young players to be extras or placed in the AHL.
Nate Schmidt (WSH) - Josh Manson (ANA)
David Schlemko (SJ) - Jason Demers (FLA)
Chris Wideman (OTT) - Matt Dumba (MIN)
Extra Defense: Colin Miller (BOS), Brayden McNabb (LA), Slater Koekkoek (TBL), Ville Pokka (CHI)
Drafted three right-shot D with a lot of value in Manson, Demers and Dumba. Wideman and Collin Miller are also right-shots that posted strong underlying numbers the past year. Schmidt is under-appreciated but has a lot of value and Schlemko is a solid puck-mover. McNabb, Koekkoek and Pokka add some organizational depth.
Marc-Andre Fleury (PIT)
Petr Mrazek (DET)
Antti Raanta (NYR)
Joonas Korpisalo (CLB)
Laurent Brossoit (EDM)
It sounds like Fleury is who the Knights want as their starter. Any of the other 4 goalies could be a strong #2 or be flipped to a team that needs a goaltender.
Thoughts on my team
The goal: to draft as good a team as available, in terms of both competitiveness and assets that can be used to flip for picks or prospects.
I drafted with the notion of not letting teams trade assets to protect exposed players. Obviously, that will not actually be the case in actuality, but Las Vegas should make the prices very harsh for teams that have a lot to lose. In particular, Anaheim and Minnesota are at risk of losing very valuable defensemen, that could either play very well for Las Vegas or have a significant amount of value on the trade market (young, talented, right-shot defensemen).
I would argue that the defense and goaltending of this team has the potential to be playoff calibre. The forward group is not bad, however there just was not enough high end talent out there. That being said, the makeup of the lines above looks like 4 second or third lines, so there is potential, especially with Vegas already having signed Vadim Shipachyov out of the KHL.
I loaded up on extra goaltenders and defensemen, with the idea that quality players in those positions are always highly sought after, which give Las Vegas a position of strength in the market to deal to teams that are in need of such players.
Finally, from a Calgary perspective, the Flames lose Hunter Shinkaruk here. The reason I chose Shinkaruk over Brett Kulak is because he is a young player with scoring potential, that can be sent to the AHL next season without needing to clear waivers, which is something that only he, Rychel and Korpisalo can do. This is obviously important in giving Vegas flexibility, as they cannot keep all 30 players on their roster, plus they will want to add some different players available through free agency.
FlamesMM’s Las Vegas Golden Knights ($72.9M Cap Hit in 2017-18)
James Neal (NSH) - Vadim Shipachyov (Russia) - Michael Grabner (NYR)
Nikolai Kulemin (NYI) - Jori Lehtera (STL) - Brad Richardson (ARI)
Mikhail Grigorenko (COL) - Cody Eakin (DAL) - Matt Read (PHI)
Jujhar Khaira (EDM) - Matt Stajan (CGY) - Devante Smith-Pelly (NJ)
Scratches: Marko Dano (WPG), Reid Boucher (VAN)
AHL: Tanner Richard (TB), Lukas Sedlak (CBJ), Kerby Rychel (TOR), Reid Duke (Brandon), Tomas Hyka (Czech League)
Marc Methot (OTT) - Jason Demers (FLA)
Zach Bogosian (BUF) - Matt Dumba (MIN)
Clayton Stoner (ANA) - Alexei Emelin (MTL)
Scratch: Trevor van Riemsdyk (CHI)
AHL: Dylan Demelo (SJ), Joe Morrow (BOS), Zach Trotman (LA)
Starter: Marc-Andre Fleury (PIT)
Backup: Phillip Grubauer (WSH)
Trade Bait: Petr Mrazek (DET)
AHL: Daniel Altshuller (CAR)
Thoughts on the Team:
I tried to factor in three things when I was making my team.
- Trades rumoured to have been made with Vegas to protect players which have been done by Anaheim, Chicago, Columbus, and the New York Islanders.
- Players signed already to Vegas (Shipachyov)
- Finding a target age range
When I was looking for players, I was either looking for players in their mid-early twenties or in their early-mid thirties. The younger players are players with potential to be the future on the Knights. The older players are players that can be dealt in the future for picks.
With the roster I chose, 15 players have a contract that expires after next season meaning some could be sold. Of those 15, eight of them are players around 30 that could be good rentals at the trade deadline which could further garner Vegas picks and prospects.
This team likely won’t contend for the playoffs next year, and that shouldn’t be their goal whatsoever. So either I looked for young players with potential, or players I could package. This team will be decent, but nothing fantastic.
After considering other options, I feel that Vegas will ultimately draft Matt Stajan from the Flames because there aren’t a lot of NHL centres on the market. Vegas will also have a strong defensive core, so picking Kulak probably wouldn’t make sense.
This team will be decent, but nothing fantastic.