We’re coming up to 24 hours since the beginning of the Expansion Draft, and at this point, there are still 28 picks still on the roster. They also added seven players at the Expansion Draft via trade. Today, the Golden Knights flipped Trevor van Riemsdyk and David Schlemko for 2nd and a 5th round pick. But that’s it… for now.
So let’s break down the numbers. The key number is the total number of NHL contracts currently under Vegas control. That number 29, including Vadim Shapachov. 14 forwards, 12 defensemen, and three goalies.
Realistically, those numbers need to come down to about 11-12 forwards, seven to eight defensemen, and either two or three goalies. That’s a total of between six and nine players that have to go.
So let’s just go player by player, and break it down.
Virtual Locks to Stay (in order of probability of sticking with Vegas)
Marc-Andre Fleury (G) – It feels like he’s already the face of the franchise. Weird how quick that happened, but if they wanted to trade him, he would have been gone already. This was a long time coming, he’s not going anywhere.
Deryk Engelland (D) – The defensemen signed a one year deal to play for his adopted hometown team. He’ll likely be towards the bottom in time on ice, but he’ll probably be in a Golden Knights jersey for the rest of his career, definitely come October.
Vadim Shipachyov (F) – Wouldn’t have signed him to move him. He’s probably taking the face off in Dallas on October 6th.
Shea Theodore (D) – The Ducks were in trouble with the Expansion Draft, Theodore was what they offered up, McPhee has to really like him.
James Neal (F) – His face was dead center on the only player promo the team has ever sent out. Plus, he’s a good player.
David Perron (F) – Also on that promo email, plus this little tweet string is pretty convincing.
Alex Tuch (F) – Similar to Theodore. Vegas must have wanted him. Not necessarily going to be on the Golden Knights roster come October, but he’ll by in the system.
Likely to Stay (in order of probability of sticking with Vegas)
Calvin Pickard (G) – The goalie market was flat out non-existent by the time the Expansion Draft rolled around. They’d probably think to move him if there was a partner, but there isn’t, so he’ll be the backup.
Nate Schmidt (D) – Former Washington Capital, no compensation was given by the Capitals to take him, and a player McPhee has spoken very highly of in the past. He’s close to a lock, but he’s a good player, so there’s a lot of value and he could possibly be moved.
Griffin Reinhart (D) – Reinhart is probably part of the defense of the future with Theodore. He’s 23-years-old, has an NHL track record, and won’t break the bank. He’s not better than a lot of players lower on this list right now, but his age is where the value lies to McPhee.
Cody Eakin (F) – He’ll forever be one of my personal favorites because The Creator jumped the gun to announce him. McPhee drafted him, he’s locked up for three more years, and the cap hit is fine. He’ll probably be in the top 12 forwards.
Erik Haula (F) – Similar to Tuch, Minnesota was in a bit of trouble, and Haula and Tuch are who came out of it. Haula is more of a known commodity, which may mean he’s more likely to be flipped. Think he’ll stay, but very well could go.
Oscar Lindberg (F) – This one comes straight down to age. It’s unlikely McPhee would want to move one of his younger NHL ready forwards.
Jason Garrison (D) – If he wasn’t in the building yesterday and today with a jersey on, he’d be in the probably flipped category. But he was there, and with all the images, they must have decided he’s a keeper. He didn’t sound sure when we asked him though, that’s why he’s so low despite physically wearing the jersey.
Brayden McNabb (D) – Almost identical to Garrison, except that he sounded even more unsure that he’d still be around by the end of the week. Again, guess is he will, but it’s not crazy to think he’s gone.
William Karlsson (F) – $1M, RFA at the end of 2019, and a pretty darn good young player. It makes sense for him to be a part of the future, but Columbus gave up a ton to get off the expansion hook. Were they forced to take Karlsson, or did they want him? Have a feeling we will never know that answer.
Toss Ups (in order of probability of sticking with Vegas)
Reilly Smith (F) – The connection to Gallant (and Scott Luce) makes him a good candidate to stick around a be a part of the future, but he’s got a ton of value to other teams. Lean toward stays, but he can easily go.
Jonathan Marchessault (F) – One of two 30 goal scorers on the roster (Neal), but the value is just so high on him that a teams have to have been calling, and may still be calling. The Panthers connection is there too. Wouldn’t be shocked if Smith or Marchessault are gone, but also would be pleased if they both stay.
Clayton Stoner (D) – The Golden Knights have kind of watered down the market they created in selling defensemen. Stoner seems to be the one with the least value, but a bunch of defensemen have to go.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (F) – Not exactly sure what to make of this. Philadelphia is a perfect candidate for a draft day trade. Was Bellemare included as a portion of that deal, or did they really think he was the best option off the Flyers list.
J.F. Berube (G) – See Thorburn. Almost the exact same situation with the Islanders, but he’s a goalie, so he’s more likely to stay.
Chris Thorburn (F) – Unlike Bellemare, there was a deal with Winnipeg. So it’s easy to question whether McPhee actually wanted Thorburn or if the Jets made him take him. Thorburg is also a UFA, so it’s possible his contract simply falls off on July 1st.
Teemu Pulkkinen (F) – Arizona GM John Chayka didn’t want to make a move, so Pulkkinen was probably the best option for McPhee. But it could easily be a “throw away.” Does that even count for this list?
Probably Flipped (in order of probability of sticking with Vegas)
Luca Sbisa (D) – I truly believe McPhee wants to move him, the question is can they get the value. Remember what I was saying about a watered down market (another story coming tomorrow on this). He’s likely the casualty.
Jonathon Merrill (D) – Merrill seems to me to be the perfect option to go to Chicago in the Marcus Kruger deal. If it’s not there, his cap hit is manageable for most teams, so he could easily be one of the guys on the go.
Colin Miller (D) – It’s a tossup between him and the next two as to who has the most value. It’ll depend on what a team values. If you want the low salary, younger guy, Miller’s the guy. He’s probably gone though.
Marc Methot (D) – Probably the best defensemen that was selected, but his value is so much higher to a competing team than he is to Vegas. I’d be shocked if he’s not moved. (But if he’s not, the Golden Knights kept a great player)
Alexei Emelin (D) – Couple factors at work here. First, very valuable defensemen. Second is that Montreal has been a pain in the butt to deal with, which is why a pre Expansion deal wasn’t done. Third is his reputation doesn’t exactly meet the McPhee/Creator style. He’s not going to be on the move.
Long Term IR Players
David Clarkson (F) – Back issues will likely keep him out all year. Vegas bought him off Columbus and got a few high draft picks to do it.
Mikhail Grabovski (F) – Same thing as Clarkson, just concussions with him.