Time for another Guest Post. Today’s submission comes all the way from the other side of the country in this magical place called New Jersey. Our guy Chris was able to track down former Rangers and Panthers goaltender John Vanbiesbrouck and ask some questions about expansion, Vegas, and more. Written by Chris Rauch.
“They are set up to have a lot of success.”
Let’s face it: when expansion teams get off the ground they are usually abysmal. The Washington Capitals won 8 games their first year in the league. It took the Columbus Blue Jackets nearly 10 years to make the playoffs for the first time. One exception to the futility rule are the Florida Panthers. It took only three years for the team to reach the Stanley Cup finals – thanks, in part, to the first player chosen in the 1993 expansion draft: goaltender John “The Beezer” Vanbiesbrouck.
The days of terrible expansion teams may be in the rear view mirror thanks to the new NHL draft rules which will give the Golden Knights access to the best talent pool an expansion team has ever seen. General manager George McPhee will have a lot on his plate, and Vanbiesbrouck is confident that the team is in good hands with McPhee at the helm.
Vanbiesbrouck and McPhee have also known each other for a long time. The two played for the New York Rangers back in the ‘80s. Currently, Vanbiesbrouck is the General Manager for the United States Hockey League’s (USHL) Muskegon Lumberjacks, a top Tier 1 junior team in Western Michigan.
“Look at the job he’s done with the Capitals,” says Vanbiesbrouck, “That still lives on with that team right now. I just believe that George and his crew…are set up to have a lot of success. His Director of Scouting [Scott Luce] is one of the best in the game. I’ve known him for a long time and he’s great at finding great talent.”
Drafting in a salary cap era may be tricky, but “The Beezer” feels there will be enough talent to go around when the draft gets underway in June – especially for goaltenders. “They are probably going to start with a goalie. If a guy like (Marc-Andre) Fleury is available with Stanley Cup winning experience and a lot of gas still in the tank it will be hard to look past him.”