Yesterday’s article broke down the Eastern Conference players that each team could lose to the Vegas Golden Knights in June’s Expansion Draft. Today, the NHL writers break down the West.
NHL Writers Pick the Vegas Golden Knights, The West
Marc Maisonneuve (@Davidpollen1)
Jakob Silfverberg – Right Wing
The Ducks will likely choose to protect eight skaters. This means that Jakob Silfverberg will be the player they are most likely to lose in the draft. Silfverberg has been a productive winger for the Ducks and will help Vegas by doing the same. Silfverberg should be one of the top right wings with experience in the draft. He will help the younger players grow in Vegas.
Nicholas Di Giovanni (@LWOSNick)
Jamie McGinn – Left Wing
With a lot of first and second-year players and expiring contracts, the Arizona Coyotes will have a tough time just making a protected list. One player whom they might expose, and Vegas could select, is Jamie McGinn.
After hitting his first 20-goal season in his eight-year career last season with 22 goals, the Coyotes offered McGinn a three-year, $10-million contract. He has yet to live up to his billing, with only six goals and three assists in 32 games.
The veteran of nearly 500 games could fit in well in a young franchise. He has the ability to play as a top-six forward at his best, but the grit to play in the bottom-six as well. A change of scenery might also be good for the 28-year-old if he wants to bounce back from this bad season.
Nick Seguin (@ NickSeguin19)
Michael Frolik – Right Wing
The Calgary Flames will leave right winger Michael Frolik unprotected and this is who the Vegas Golden Knights should select. Frolik is good for 20 goals and 40 points and can fill a top-six role. He also won the Stanley Cup in 2013, which is an invaluable experience to bring to a room that has never played together before.
Alex Hernandez (@svnchxz)
Trevor van Riemsdyk – Defense
The Vegas Golden Knights should pick Trevor van Riemsdyk in the Expansion Draft from the Chicago Blackhawks. He is a solid young defenseman who can add value to the Vegas roster immediately.
His stats are not elite – 19 points in 120career games – but he is on a Chicago team that is full of veterans on defense. His current cap hit is $825,000, and becomes a restricted free agent in 2018. This makes him affordable for the Golden Knights.
Vegas will have the opportunity to see if van Riemsdyk has blue-line potential, and if so, they will have a solid top-four defenseman for the upcoming years.
Connor Dobos (@ConnorDobos97)
Calvin Pickard – Goalie
The Colorado Avalanche will face the unfortunate task of choosing whether to protect Calvin Pickard or Semyon Varlamov. Out of the two goaltenders, Pickard has the biggest upside for the Vegas franchise. He is only 24 years old, carries a team-friendly cap hit of $1 million per year until he becomes arbitration eligible after the 2017-2018 season, and has a 3.06 GAA and .902 SV% through 21 games.
With the Golden Knights presumably years away from evolving into a contender, having a young goaltender with a high ceiling is imperative for the NHL’s newest franchise.
Nicholas Di Giovanni
Antoine Roussel – Left Wing
The Vegas Golden Knights will have a luxurious choice of players available from the Dallas Stars. The Stars could be going the route of the eight-player protection list, leaving players like Cody Eakin, Antoine Roussel, Jordie Benn and Jamie Oleksiak exposed.
Roussel is the no-brainer choice for Vegas. The physical winger has yet to break the 30-point barrier, but brings so much more to a hockey team than just points. He is not afraid to play rough hockey, get in the dirty areas or stand up for his teammates. He could play on a second line if Vegas needs him to.
His $2-million cap hit is also friendly to the Golden Knights.
Nicholas Di Giovanni
Brandon Davidson – Defense
The Vegas Golden Knights have limited options from the Oilers. With captain Connor McDavid and rookie Jesse Puljujarvi being exempt from the protected list, the Oilers could protect players deeper in their lineup. But the Oilers might have trouble meeting the requirement of exposing two forwards under contract for next season.
Mark Letestu will be one of those exposed forwards, and unless the Oilers sign Matt Hendricks to a contract extension through next season, Patrick Maroon will be another exposed forward. If this is the case, the Vegas Golden Knights will select Maroon, and acquire an example player with whom to start an expansion franchise.
If not, the best bet would be to take Brandon Davidson. The 25-year-old defenseman missed time earlier this year with injuries, but if healthy, has a lot of potential to bring to Vegas. At 6’2″ 210 lbs, Davidson is a tough defenseman who fits well in the physical Pacific Division. He’s a player the Golden Knights could use in their bottom pairing.
Los Angeles Kings
Nicholas Di Giovanni
Brayden McNabb – Defense
The LA Kings have a majority of their players signed through at least next season. This means they can expose depth players and still follow the three-players-signed-through-2018 rule. The Kings will keep their core together, so the Knights are limited to depth players and veterans.
Expect Vegas to take Brayden McNabb. The 25-year-old defenseman will be the youngest player the Kings could expose, and he is a solid pick-up for the Golden Knights. With a modest 200 games under his belt in five seasons, he has the experience to adjust to a new team, but also the young age to grow with them. At 6’4″ 212 pounds, McNabb is a rugged defenseman who can play on the third pairing, and move up if need be. He is signed through the 2017-2018 season with a cap hit of $1.7 million.
Graham Anderson (@GHam614)
Marco Scandella – Defense
The Vegas Golden Knights are going to look to build their defense with a player the Wild will expose. Marco Scandella will be a top-pairing blueliner for the expansion franchise. His over-300 career games played will likely make him a veteran of this franchise and although a 20-point defenseman isn’t ideal for a top-four D-man it’s the best an expansion team can do.
Noah Cirisoli (@theArkCirisoli)
Colin Wilson – Center
Wilson is an excellent winger and would make a great addition to the Vegas team. His physicality and ability to put up significant numbers makes him a suitable fit for a newly-formed offense.
St. Louis Blues
Gabriel Foley (@GabrielFoley20)
Dmitrij Jaskin – Left Wing
Most St. Louis Blues fans would agree that Dmitrij Jaskin is the likely candidate they will lose to the Expansion Draft. Jaskin has a lot of potential to be a top-six forward but has been held back by the Blues other stars. The 23-year-old is going to end up unprotected in favor of Nail Yakupov or Patrik Berglund, and he’s the best choice out of the Blues bottom-six forwards.
San Jose Sharks
Zach Devine – The Hockey Writers (@zakkthebear)
Justin Braun – Defense
The Sharks have the deepest blue line in their history and Vegas will benefit. Assuming a 7-3-1 protection, Justin Braun is a capable defenseman at a decent cap hit of $3.8 million through 2020. Not a big name, but Braun will be able to step in immediately as a dependable middle-pair rearguard and with a coveted right-handed shot.
Ken Hill (@LWOSPuckHead)
Luca Sbisa – Defense
During the off-season, blueliner Luca Sbisa was the player most Canucks fans were hoping would be taken in the Expansion Draft. But the 26-year-old has played his way to respectability this season, and a solid top-six position in Vancouver. The Canucks will likely be forced to expose him anyways, and Vegas would be wise to give him a shot.
John Malloy (@JMall95)
Marko Dano – Right Wing
The Jets should most certainly be going the eight-skater route. They have four worthy defensemen in Dustin Byfuglien (NMC), Toby Enstrom (NMC), Jacob Trouba, and Tyler Myers. Forwards Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, and Mathieu Perreault are not exempt and would fill remaining protection spots.
In turn, 22-year-old Marko Dano becomes exposed. Dano, who primarily plays wing, possesses solid two-way attributes and has top -six potential. For a smaller guy (5’11”), he does a great job of playing with an edge and is capable of getting under the opposition’s skin.
Look for part three of this series tomorrow and as we show the Vegas Golden Knights the writers have picked. In addition, we break down the rules that the Vegas staff must follow when picking players in expansion.