There should be intriguing choices at right wing in this June’s expansion draft. There are a number of choices at right wing who could be available that have really good upside. So let’s break down the best right wing options in expansion for the Vegas Golden Knights.
Richard Panik has yet to reach his potential. The Chicago Blackhawks are the third team already for the 25-year old forward. The Slovakian native has ideal size (6’1″, 208 lbs) and a lot of skill and offensive instincts. Panik has a chance to hit the 20-goal mark this year (11 is his career high). The Blackhawks would likely go the route of protecting eight skaters and a goal, as opposed to seven forwards, three defenseman, and a goalie. No way the Blackhawks will be able to protect him.
Columbus Blue Jackets
George McPhee has a tough choice to make when it comes to what player he should take from the Columbus Blue Jackets. In breaking down the center options, William Karlsson would be a strong pick for Vegas.
Having said that McPhee also needs to give Josh Anderson a very hard look. He has size (6’3″, 221 lbs), youth (just 22), scoring ability (8 goals this year), and is a hard-working physical forward. The Blue Jackets are going to lose a very good bottom six forward in the expansion.
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Detroit Red Wings
It’s possible the Detroit Red Wings expose 23-year old Tomas Jurco. Jurco has great speed and offensive skills but his NHL career has been marked by injuries and inconsistency. Jurco also has really good size at 6’1″, 203 lbs.
Viktor Arvidsson could give George McPhee and Vegas some really good offensive skill. The 23-year old has nine goals and 17 points so far this season. However, saying Arvidsson is undersized is an understatement. While Arvidsson has skill and creativity, he is also only 5’9″, 180 lbs. So if Vegas values physical presence, they might just choose to pass Arvidsson up, regardless of how good an option he would be.
New York Islanders
One thing is for sure and that is Vegas is going to get a good player from the New York Islanders. If Garth Snow, the Isles GM, decides to go the eight skaters route because he wants to protect young defensemen Ryan Pulock, it will open the door for Islander forwards to be exposed.
Potentially two of these forwards will be Cal Clutterbuck and Josh Bailey. Clutterbuck just signed a 5-year extension, but it does not include a no-move clause. Clutterbuck brings a lot to the table as an agitator, physical force, penalty killer, leadership, and secondary scoring. Bailey is off to maybe his best start offensively with five goals and 17 points. Bailey is signed through the 2017-18 season and then becomes an unrestricted free agent.
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New York Rangers
The New York Rangers will offer a couple of choices up at right-wing for the Golden Knights. Vegas could go the veteran route with Michael Grabner (signed through 2017-18) or the youngster Jesper Fast. The 29-year old Grabner is having a ‘turn back the clock’ kind of year with 13 goals and 17 points. Fast is a really good skater, strong defensively, and could provide some offense (he has two goals and 12 points).
The Ottawa Senators had high hopes for Curtis Lazar when they took him 17th overall in the 2013 draft. So far it hasn’t worked out for the 21-year old winger. Maybe a reboot to Vegas could change things for Lazar?
While Lazar is yet to take off, there is no doubt there is potential there. When drafted, the 6’0″, 209-lbs winger, was projected to be a two-way player with a strong work ethic and someone who was versatile to play all three forward positions. McPhee could take Lazar and have him spend some time in the AHL next season.
The Pittsburgh Penguins could wind up giving the Vegas front office a number of choices in terms of who they should select. Bryan Rust should get serious consideration. The 24-year old speedy winger is strong defensively, kills penalties and could be a real good source of secondary scoring with seven goals and 12 points to his name.
Tom Wilson of the Washington Capitals is the kind of player you love to have if he is on your team, but hate him if he is on the oppositions. The 6’4″, 217-lbs winger pushes the limit with his physical play. The 22-year old might be able to contribute some offense if given the opportunity.
The 23-year old Joel Armia has size (6’3″, 205 lbs) and offensive skills. The Winnipeg Jets will probably have to decide whether they want to protect Armia, the former 16th overall selection, or the 22-year old center Andrew Copp. This will leave Vegas with a good option either way.