I decided that rather than continue to tweet about this and possible roster combinations, that I would throw it all into a blog post.
I would have done anything to be following George McPhee for the past week and the upcoming week. What the Vegas Golden Knights are going through is unprecedented. Normally when the NHL has expanded, there have been two teams, so you’ve been picking against another team. And when they have expanded, nothing but trash has been available. This time around, there are quite a few good players available for Vegas to take. To make it even more interesting, They are allowed to make trades with teams to not take a certain player that has been left available. For instance, it is believed that the Anaheim Ducks have made an offer to Vegas to keep them from selecting Sami Vatanen or Josh Manson. Columbus has a deal in place to keep Vegas from taking Jack Johnson, or Joonas Korpisalo and apparently has offered Ryan Murray or Matt Calvert, a 1st round pick, a prospect and David Clarkson’s contract.
George McPhee met with the media today and he did give some insight into his dealings with other teams and what we can expect tomorrow night.
Pittsburgh’s deal would be for the Knights to take Marc-Andre Fleury, though they likely would have done that anyway. The Islanders have made a deal to try to protect Josh Bailey and Brock Nelson, and I’m guessing Chicago is offering Trevor van Riemsdyk and Marcus Kruger to get them to lay off some other pieces they have. Six trades in place is quite a few, to say the least.
Again, this is all purely speculative at this point, but it makes predicting who will be on their final roster impossible. Not to mention that McPhee has said that some of the picks he will acquire will be traded, that they’re going to load up on defensemen (that will likely see a few traded) and that if a team does not have much to offer, that they will pick a player with an expiring RFA contract and they won’t qualify him.
Bottom line, there are going to be a lot of moving pieces in and out of Vegas and it’s very likely that more than a few of the players and picks that they acquire via trade or the expansion draft will not be there for very long.
*insert clever joke about one night stands in Las Vegas*
Another key is that they can negotiate with players that are going to be UFAs. And if they come to an agreement, signing that player would count as taking a player from their team. Joe Thornton is a veteran UFA that comes to mind right away that could end up in Vegas.
I’m inclined to agree with McPhee here. They have the opportunity to have a lot of great players on the blue line to try to bolster their depth at center. The same can be said for their goalie. There are going to be at least 5-6 goalies they could take that are potential starters, but I’m guessing they’ll take four, trade two, and then roll with Marc-Andre Fleury and a younger player to back him up.
At any rate, it’s almost impossible to predict what they’re going to do, but I decided to give it a try anyways. Based on trades that they have lined up, rumors, etc…here’s what I got for them.
They’ve got some talented wingers in this scenario and a talented blue line with some young pieces. Not to mention they’re loaded in net…Mrazek being left available will likely come back to haunt the Red Wings unfortunately. I do not think that Vegas would even bother to keep him, but he’s a young goalie that had a rough season and maybe with a change of scenery, he takes off again. Not to mention he’s going to be a 26-year-old RFA at the end of this season so he’s not going to sign somewhere else in the NHL after this season.
Now, here are some tweets that I had earlier with some other potential rosters….once you get through that, you’ll get to my final version of what I would do if I was running the show.
You could do this until your hands fall off, and that’s why it’s fun. I would only do a handshake deal with a handful of teams but really only if it’s going to be an incredible deal that makes a lot of sense. It would have to be something pretty outstanding to get me to back off of Sami Vatanen.
At first glance, you’re probably thinking, “man, that is a lot of defensemen that you’re not going to be able to afford.” And “wow, there’s a lot of guys who’s contracts will be up in a year.” And you would be correct. You will have flexibility to sign the guys that you truly want to keep and let the guys that are not going to hack it for you move on.
You look at the roster and you’ve got Nestrasil, Boucher, Leier, Shinkaruk, Hudon, Tinordi that all go straight to the minors. That leaves you with 9 forwards…maybe Shinkaruk or Hudon make the team, but don’t hold your breath.
From there, you’ve got James Neal to keep for part of the year to trade at the deadline to a team as a rental. Before the summer ends, you look to trade Mrazek and Hutchinson to the highest bidder. Then you look at moving McNabb and Merrill on the back-end to get you to 10 defensemen (with Tinordi in the AHL). So you’ve got 9 pretty good players left, so what do you do? You keep Bogosian, Vatanen, Dillon, Dumba as your top 4. Then you figure out monetarily what is the best course of action. Colin Miller would likely be the 5th, then you have Alzner and Sustr to round out the 7 on your roster. Leaving you to trade TVR and Barberio. Unless of course you find a taker for someone else.
The bottom line is, that group of 10 gives you some major options to make moves and try to improve your forward group, which is pretty much an incomplete group.
As you can see, there are quite a you’re still missing 3 forwards to fit into your Top 12, but that is why you draft all of the defensemen. Drafting them and trading them will help you out at forward more than most of the players you could pick. You could even trade Bogosian or Dillon which would weaken your top four, but it might get you more depth in the middle, something that would be desperately needed here. You basically end up trading 6 players that you drafted before the season starts and then you move Neal at the Deadline. Personally, I think that is a slick looking group if you are able to get some good pieces to fill those last 3 spots up front.
I cannot wait to see how this all shakes out and to see which trades end up getting made…it’s going to be fascinating.