As GM of the Capitals, George McPhee selected prospects in 17 Entry Drafts. Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and yes, even Filip Forsberg, were McPhee’s top picks. The GM has a strong draft history which must continue if he’s going to find success in Vegas. With Washington, McPhee was able to collect extra picks and ended up with a total of 20 first round picks over 17 seasons. A strategy almost certainly be used with the Golden Knights. The question is, will he go the same route positionally as he did in Washington.
Based off past draft results, McPhee, like most NHL general managers, prefer to select centers (8 of 20 1st round picks) early in the draft. According to most analysts, the first round of this year’s entry draft could feature many young centers.
Beyond Nolan Patrick and Nico Hischier, half of the next 20 picks could be centers. Gabe Vilardi, Casey Mittelstadt, Michael Rasmussen, and Martin Necas are top centers that could be available for Vegas to draft. McPhee spotted Backstrom, Kuznetsov, Johansson and Forsberg’s ability, so if he decides to draft a center, Golden Knights fans should feel optimistic.
Could the Vegas front office go in a different direction and draft a defenseman with their first round selection? It’s possible, considering the highly-skilled defensive prospects scouts are predicting go early. Miro Heiskanen, Cale Makar, and Timothy Liljegren could ultimately change the results of the first six picks.
If Philadelphia or Dallas select on direct need, one or two of the top defensive prospects could be off the board before the 6th pick, leaving the Golden Knights with a center of their choice. Remember, statistically drafting a center in the first round is usually the better decision.