In the past two days, we’ve gone over what each team lost to the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2017 Expansion Draft. First, the teams that gave up the least were featured in teams 30-21. Next, the teams that gave up an average amount of assets to the Golden Knights were featured in teams 20-11. Today, we will look at teams 10-1. These are the NHL teams that gave Vegas the most amount of assets in the 2017 Expansion Draft.
The players that Vegas acquired in this area have created the Golden Knight’s identity. They received impact players that will define the Golden Knights for many years to come and were the cornerstones for Vegas on their magical run to the Stanley Cup Final. These picks and trades are where former general manager George McPhee excelled.
(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: 10-1
10: Boston Bruins
Player(s) given up: Colin Miller
Colin Miller is a very interesting defenceman, who’s always been able to put up great basic stats. He has some very good underlying numbers as well, he’s just never been able to put it together and succeed in a larger role. Miller amassed 41 points in his first season with Vegas. This was good for 28th in total defenceman scoring in the NHL that year. He came close to being half a point per game the next season, before being traded to the Buffalo Sabres for a 2021 second-round pick and a 2022 fifth-round pick. Vegas decided to use this second-round pick along with their own 2020 second-round pick to acquire Alec Martinez. Martinez is a middle pairing defenceman who provides them with another defensive presence. Martinez scored a surprising eight points in just 10 games with Vegas before the stoppage of play.
Player(s) given up: Chris Thorburn, 2019 third-round pick, moved up in 2017 First-Round
For the Jets to protect their coveted assets from Vegas, they decided to allow Vegas to select Chris Thorburn in the 2017 Expansion Draft, while supplying Vegas with some draft picks. Thorburn left in free agency after his selection and never played a game for the Knights. The draft picks, however, were successful, as Vegas traded the Columbus Blue Jackets‘ 2017 first-round pick (24th overall) to Winnipeg and moved up to 13th overall, where they drafted exciting centre, Nick Suzuki. Suzuki was then traded a year later to the Montreal Canadiens along with Tomas Tatar and a 2019 second-round pick in exchange for Max Pacioretty, a staple in the Vegas top-six. Vegas also received Winnipeg’s 2019 third-round pick, which they packaged to the San Jose Sharks to trade up to 41st overall to select defenceman Kaeden Korczak, who has become one of the top prospects in the Vegas organization.
Another example of a team giving up a ton of assets to Vegas and why teams should be careful when giving up assets to Seattle. While Garrison never amounted to anything, Vegas stockpiled more draft picks for their bright future. Nikita Gusev’s rights were traded to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a 2020 third-round pick and a 2021 second-round pick, two higher picks for a player that would’ve never played for them. Vegas used the second-round pick to trade for Columbus prospect Keegan Kolesar. Kolesar could make the NHL one day in a fourth-line checking role. However, Vegas lost this trade, as Columbus used the second-round pick to select the young centre Alexandre Texier. Vegas then used the fourth-round pick to select USHL forward Paul Cotter. Cotter provides some more forward depth in an already deep Vegas prospect pool.
George McPhee realized that this could be an opportunity to weaponize Vegas’ cap space, and took on the final year of Grabovski’s four-year, $20 million deal. In exchange for taking on this bad contract, the Islanders traded the Knights two very high draft picks. This makes a lot of sense for both teams, as Vegas got a few quality future assets, and the Islanders get rid of a bad contract. Berube, Grabovski and Bischoff never amounted to anything for the Golden Knights and played only four games in total. The draft picks are where the value is found, however, since Vegas used the first-round pick to select Swedish stud Erik Brannstrom. Vegas then used the second-round pick to trade for Tomas Tatar. Vegas eventually traded Brannstrom for Mark Stone, and traded Tatar for Max Pacioretty, creating two of the most important pieces found in the Vegas top-six.
While Vegas also gave up a third-round pick in their transaction with Minnesota, the value they got from that third-round pick is immense. Erik Haula seamlessly fit in with Vegas and scored a career-high 55 points in 76 games. This is exactly the type of depth scoring that propelled Vegas to their Stanley Cup Final run. Alex Tuch transformed his career into what looked like a fringe NHLer into another great secondary scorer for the Knights, scoring 52 points in 74 games in 2018-19. Haula was eventually traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for another prospect, Nicholas Roy, who’s just another player who seemed to fit into the Golden Knights system with ease, and achieved in a top-six role late this season when injuries affected the Golden Knights up front.
Player(s) given up: Nate Schmidt
Nate Schmidt has been one of Vegas’ top two defencemen ever since they started playing. He’s scored at almost a half point-per-game rate during his whole time with Vegas and put up some great defensive numbers as well. He’s done this all while starting the majority of his shifts in the defensive zone for Vegas. Vegas uses Schmidt on their top pair with Brayden McNabb, and that pairing doesn’t seem to be going anywhere with both locked up for at least two more years. The defenceman recently signed a contract worth $35.7 million and is making a shade under $6 million every season he plays. Schmidt is and will continue to be a star in Vegas. He was an outstanding selection by former general manager George McPhee.
4: Columbus Blue Jackets
In this selection, Vegas was able to get a guy who scored 40 goals for them. A pick that Vegas used to trade up for Nick Suzuki. A draft pick that Vegas used in the Pacioretty trade. And all of this for taking on a bad David Clarkson contract, which the Golden Knights were later able to trade away. That’s just outstanding work by McPhee. It’s even more outstanding that he was able to squeeze even more value out of three more teams. Vegas signed Karlsson for seven more years at a very low AAV of $5.9 million. Even if he trails off a little, that’s great value for a player that can play in your top-six, score lots of goals, and have great defending numbers to top it all off.
Player(s) given up: Marc-Andre Fleury, 2020 second-round pick
While Fleury has been Vegas’ best player during their short timespan in the NHL, he is starting to age. Vegas’ face of the franchise was already Fleury before he was even selected due to Matt Murray’s rise in Pittsburgh. Fleury has had a save percentage of .915 during his time in Vegas and has kept his GAA down at 2.51. He’s come in the top-five in Vezina voting during both of his completed seasons in Vegas. He led the Golden Knights to the Stanley Cup Finals. Vegas somehow managed to receive a Vezina calibre goaltender and managed to salvage a second-round pick in the process.
Florida messed up here and gave the Golden Knights two centrepieces to build a franchise around. The Panthers gave up Jonathan Marchessault to the Vegas Golden Knights (a proven top-six forward on his own). On top of that, they traded Reilly Smith to Vegas, who also flourished and became a great top-six player. These two wingers flanked William Karlsson during Vegas’ magical 2017-18 year. Both players are great all-around wingers that can help all around the ice. Due to their spectacular seasons in Vegas, both got some Selke Trophy votes for the 2017-18 season.
In exchange for Vegas taking one year of a bad $3.25 million Clayton Stoner contract, Anaheim traded Shea Theodore to Vegas. Theodore is developing into a potential franchise defenceman. He will be the face of the Golden Knights blueline for years to come. Theodore was one of the top defencemen in the NHL this year and isn’t even 25. The young Canadian put up the 10th most points by a defenceman this season. He put up the third most expected goals by any defenceman. He’s only getting better each season, holding a staggering 56.1 Corsi percentage during his time with Vegas. Theodore is not only one of the best current NHL defenceman, but he is also a future Norris contender. Theodore is the best asset that Vegas received from the 2017 Expansion Draft.
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)