Yesterday, we went over the teams that gave up the least amount of value to Vegas. Those teams utilized their protected lists better than the other teams and didn’t trade any major assets to Vegas in the 2017 Vegas Golden Knights Expansion Draft. Even though they may have lost an aging veteran, they didn’t give up their young assets. Today, we are going over teams 20-11. These teams gave up assets to Vegas but didn’t get robbed by general manager George McPhee in the process. These teams let Vegas take a player from their roster, and didn’t trade any picks or prospects that McPhee would later use to make Vegas one of the deepest teams in the NHL.
Tomorrow, we will go over teams 10-1, and look at the teams that made the mistake of trading assets to Vegas to protect their older players. All teams that did this gave Vegas a better asset than they would’ve received if they had just allowed Vegas to select a player from their team, and this will be a blueprint for all teams heading into the 2021 Seattle Expansion Draft.
(Rankings will be ranked from 30 to 1. Team 30 will have given up the least to Vegas, and team 1 will have given up the most)
2017 Expansion Draft Value Rankings: 20-11
Player(s) given up: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare
Bellemare was another safe selection for Vegas that worked more in the locker room than it did on the ice. Bellmare only scored 31 points in his 148 games with the Vegas Golden Knights but played a great role in team leadership. Vegas used the Frenchman as their primary fourth-line centre during his tenure and named Bellemare alternate captain during the 2018-19 season due to his leadership capabilities. Bellemare left after two seasons with the Golden Knights, signing a two-year deal with the Colorado Avalanche. Bellemare has since played a pivotal role in the Avalanche bottom-six. When everyone is healthy, Bellemare plays a solid fourth-line role behind Nathan MacKinnon, Nazem Kadri, and J.T. Compher.
19: Dallas Stars
Player(s) given up: Cody Eakin
One of Vegas’ more underrated selections in the 2017 Expansion Draft was the selection of Cody Eakin. While Eakin was never a good possession player for the Golden Knights, he produced some pretty impressive basic statistics. Eakin scored a half point-per-game for Vegas in the 2018-19 season. Eakin was also a useful penalty killer for Vegas and gave the Golden Knights some depth down the middle. Vegas recently traded Eakin to the Winnipeg Jets for a conditional fourth-round pick in the 2021 draft. This was due to his lackluster start to 2019-20, scoring just 10 points in 41 games for the Golden Knights.
18: Buffalo Sabres
Player(s) given up: William Carrier, 2017 Sixth Round Pick
Carrier was a young forward trying to maintain a spot in Buffalo’s lineup by the time he was picked. He has developed into an NHL level bottom-six forward, after scoring 19 points in 71 games this year. Carrier has consistently driven possession during his time with the Golden Knights, keeping a Corsi percentage just around 55 percent for all three years he’s been in Vegas. Vegas rewarded Carrier with a four-year contract extension worth $1.4 million each season. Vegas also managed to receive a 6th round pick from Buffalo, who they used to select goaltender Jiri Patera from the Czech Republic. Patera came over to play with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings for the last two seasons, where he posted a .921 save percentage in 2019-20. Vegas awarded Patera’s great play with a pro contract for 2020-21, and Patera will continue to play in the Golden Knight’s organization.
17: New York Rangers
Player(s) given up: Oscar Lindberg
Lindberg was one of the many reliable younger defenders left available to Vegas. Soon after his selection, Vegas quickly signed him to a two-year deal worth $3.4 million. Lindberg only played a season and a half in Vegas, and didn’t produce many points but put up some great possession numbers. The Swede had a 57.3 percent Corsi in his second season with the team. Vegas traded Lindberg to the Ottawa Senators in a deal that sent him, a 2020 second round pick, and young defensive phenom Erik Brannstrom to Ottawa in exchange for Mark Stone and Tobias Lindberg.
Player(s) given up: James Neal
Although Neal only played one season with Vegas after the 2017 Expansion Draft, it was relatively productive. The former all-star scored 25 goals and 44 points for Vegas, putting him fourth on the team in goal scoring. Neal proved to be valuable during the playoff run as well, scoring six goals and 11 points in Vegas’ final run. The former 40-goal scorer left Vegas in free agency, where his production severely dropped with the Calgary Flames. Calgary then traded Neal to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Milan Lucic. Neal was better in Edmonton and was much closer to his typical goals and points totals than he was with the Flames.
15: St. Louis Blues
Player(s) given up: David Perron
Perron’s experience with Vegas was very similar to Neal’s experience. Both players only played one season with the Knights after their selections, and then left in free agency. Perron reached a career-high in points with Vegas, scoring 66 points in the 70 games he appeared in for the Golden Knights. While Perron’s points total drastically improved with Vegas, he interestingly had worse possession numbers. Perron was under 50 percent Corsi for the first time in a while during his tenure with Vegas. After Perron’s quick stint with Vegas, he returned to St. Louis, keeping the productivity he had found while playing with Vegas. St. Louis signed Perron to a four-year, $16 million contract. Perron’s deal is currently a steal for the St. Louis Blues.
Player(s) given up: Alexei Emelin
Alexei Emelin was just another one of the many solid, safe defenceman that Vegas was able to pick due to the structure of the 2017 Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft. Most teams chose the 7-3-1 format, making it so most teams only had the option to protect three defencemen. This structure allowed Vegas to pick many middle pairing defencemen, and Emelin is just another example of that. Vegas traded Emelin to the Nashville Predators right after his selection, which allowed Vegas to add a third-round pick to their already massive cupboard of draft selections. Vegas used this draft pick (86th overall) to select BCHL defenceman Layton Ahac. Ahac played his D+1 season at Ohio State University, where he only amassed three assists in 36 games. This seems underwhelming, but for a freshman defenceman at a Big Ten powerhouse, there’s going to be very limited ice time.
Player(s) given up: Brayden McNabb
Brayden McNabb, similar to Emelin, is another middle pairing defenceman that Los Angeles exposed due to the nature of the protected lists. Unlike Emelin, Vegas chose to keep McNabb. Vegas signed the veteran defenceman to a $10 million deal back in 2017. McNabb plays a huge role in Vegas’ top four, as he played on the Vegas’ first pair with Nate Schmidt. The McNabb-Schmidt pairing had 500 more minutes of ice time this past season than any other Vegas pairing has. This is a testament to their consistency in creating and preventing chances for Vegas. Vegas will use McNabb as a reliable option on defence throughout the remaining two years he has left on his contract.
Player(s) given up: Trevor van Riemsdyk
There seems to be a theme in this group of selections, where Vegas drafted the middle of the pack defenceman and then either traded them away for future assets or used them to jumpstart their brand new blue line. The former is the case with this selection, as Vegas traded Van Riemsdyk along with a 2018 7th round pick to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for the Pittsburgh Penguins‘ 2017 second-round pick. This pick ended up being 62nd overall, where they selected center Jake Leschyshyn. Leschyshyn was disappointing for Regina in his D+1 season, and there was no statistical increase. He had a much better D+2 year, where he exploded bringing his points per game up from 0.625 to 1.19. Leschyshyn played his most recent season with the Chicago Wolves, scoring just eight points in 61 games, and will challenge for an NHL spot in a couple of years.
11: Ottawa Senators
Player(s) given up: Marc Methot
Yet another defenceman traded for assets, Vegas traded the big stay-at-home defenceman to the Dallas Stars right after he was drafted. The Golden Knights traded Methot in exchange for a 2020 second-round pick and goaltending prospect Dylan Ferguson. Ferguson’s surprise appearance in an NHL game at the age of 19 is what he is most remembered by. Vegas’ repeated injuries in the net allowed Ferguson to get into their crease. Ferguson spent some time in the ECHL after finishing his WHL career with the Kamloops Blazers. The goalie will challenge for a full-time spot with Vegas’ AHL team, the Chicago Wolves, next season. Vegas used the second-round pick in the package sent to Ottawa in exchange for Mark Stone. Stone has quickly become Vegas’ most important forward.
2017 NHL Expansion Draft Roundtable
LAS VEGAS, NV – JUNE 21: The newest members of the Vegas Golden Knights address the crowd during the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft Roundtable at T-Mobile Arena on June 21, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)