Las Vegas to Wheel and Deal NHL Defensemen

NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 16: Cam Fowler #4 of the Anaheim Ducks skates against the New York Islanders at the Barclays Center on October 16, 2016 in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. The Islanders defeated the Ducks 3-2 in overtime. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
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Once the winner of the Stanley Cup is decided this coming June, the hockey universe will center around Las Vegas. Las Vegas general manager George McPhee and his staff will be on the clock. Look for them to wheel and deal NHL defensemen after the completion of the expansion draft.

Las Vegas to Wheel and Deal NHL Defensemen

Expansion Loaded with Blue Liners

The expansion draft will be littered with quality defenseman. If it were held today, the following blue liners are likely to be available.

Anaheim Ducks Cam Fowler
Colorado Avalanche Nikita Zadorov
Dallas Stars Patrick Niemeth and Jamie Oleksiak
Florida Panthers Jason Demers or Alex Petrovic
Minnesota Wild Jonas Brodin and Marco Scandella
New York Islanders Calvin de Haan
New York Rangers Kevin Klein
St. Louis Blues Carl Gunnarsson
Washington Capitals Dmitry Orlov or Nate Schmidt


Consider talented prospects Ville Pokka (Chicago), Griffin Reinhart (Edmonton), and Mirco Mueller (San Jose) could also be available.

That’s twelve deep in terms of blue liners in the expansion draft. According to expansion rules, Las Vegas must pick at least nine NHL defensemen.

There are numerous teams looking to upgrade and improve their blue line. The Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Detroit Red Wings, and Boston Bruins, are among them. McPhee’s cell phone will be on fire with trade talk regarding defensemen.

Wheeling And Dealing For

When George McPhee was on the Vegas Hockey Podcast, he stated his franchise would be built with young players through the draft, but this should be another tool McPhee uses to build his team.

The defenseman available to Las Vegas this off-season do not stop with the expansion draft; keep in mind free agency kicks off July 1st. This summer Brent Burns, Kevin Shattenkirk, Dmitry Kulikov, Trevor Daley, and Johnny Oduya are unrestricted free agents. Signing one or two of these UFA’s opens the door for more trades by McPhee.

Without signing a UFA defensemen this summer, Las Vegas could claim 13 defenseman in the expansion draft. McPhee could easily flip at least four defensemen.

The big question is what would McPhee look to acquire? Next year is the franchise’s inaugural season, an eye towards the big picture would be a wise move. McPhee should look to acquire as many young forwards, top prospects, and draft picks as possible.

Players like Cam Fowler and Kevin Klein, who are only signed through the 2017-18 season, should be traded for long-term players who can develop with the Vegas franchise.

24 Picks

A great goal for McPhee is to have a total of 24 picks in 2017 and 2018 drafts. Currently, Las Vegas has seven picks in each of the next two drafts. That means the goal is to acquire an additional ten picks. A difficult task but one that could be very fruitful if accomplished.

McPhee should be open to as many ways as possible to acquire draft picks for the 2017 and 2018 drafts. There’s no better way to get a jump on that goal than by using the defensemen he selects in the expansion draft.

Below is my first chart of the top ten players available in the upcoming expansion draft.

Matt Murray* Pittsburgh Penguins Goalie
Cam Fowler Anaheim Ducks Defense
Alex Killorn Tampa Bay Lightning Right Wing
Jonas Brodin Minnesota Wild Defense
Alexander Wennberg Columbus Blue Jackets Center
Alex Petrovic Florida Panthers Defense
Mirco Mueller San Jose Sharks Defense
Calle Jarnkrok Nashville Predators Center
Matt Beleskey Boston Bruins Left Wing
Kevin Klein New York Rangers Defense


*Pending Ruling on players with a NMC for AHL, and a limited NTC (see Marc-Andre Fleury)

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  1. That you think Alex Wennberg has any chance whatsoever of being exposed in the expansion draft makes it impossible to take anything you write seriously. He’s the #1C for the Jackets, and producing over a point per game. That’s like suggesting that the Flames might expose Sean Monahan, or the Avs might expose Nathan MacKinnon, or the Habs might make available Alex Galchenyuk. It’s patently absurd to anyone with a clue.

  2. As of the current rules with the no-movement clauses, the Jackets have to protect 4 players in Dubinsky, Hartnell, Clarkson & Jenner. The 3 remaining forwards I have them protecting are Saad, Atkinson and Jenner. Unless the NMC expansion rules change in order to protect Wennberg have to expose Saad, Atkinson or Jenner. Thanks for the feedback.

  3. Sorry the 4 players Columbus has to protect as of now because of NMC are: Dubinsky, Hartnell, Clarkson & Foligno. That means out of Saad, Atkinson, Jenner and Wennberg one has to be exposed unless the NHL & NHLPA change the current platform of expansion & the NMC. Thanks again.

    • Two problems with your theory:
      1) Clarkson is on LTIR and likely to stay there,
      2) Even if he wasn’t, he’d be asked to waive his NMC instead of giving up our #1C,
      3) Even if he didn’t do that, he’d be bought out instead of giving up our #1C,
      4) Even if we couldn’t afford that, we’d expose Atkinson or Jenner before giving up our #1C.

      There is no excuse for this. None. If you still think it possible you are a fool.

  4. I don’t think you will see Greiss available. It will be Halak left unprotected if he is not traded. Also I doubt Very highly de Hann will be left unprotected.