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|
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
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.
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)