In 2000, both the Wild and Blue Jackets passed over Martin St. Louis. He went on to score 391 goals and put up over 1,000 points before being elected into the Hall of Fame. In 1993, Dominik Hasek was there for the Ducks and Panthers. He went on to win six Vezina trophies, two Hart trophies, two Stanley Cups, and become one of the best goalies ever before he was elected into the Hall.
In every Expansion Draft through the history of sports, there’s at least one. One big name that slipped through the cracks and would have changed everything for the new team that didn’t take him.
It’s been just over three years since the Golden Knights announced their expansion roster dealing with the best rules any expansion team had ever seen. They amassed tons of extra picks, selected multiple diamonds in the rough like William Karlsson and Nate Schmidt, and they even got themselves a superstar in Marc-Andre Fleury.
There were misses though. Ranked in order, here are the most influential misses from the 2017 Expansion Draft. (I ranked them in order from most to least influential.)
VGK Pick: Calvin Pickard (traded for Tobias Lindberg and 2018 6th Round pick which became Peter Diliberatore)
Exposed: Carl Soderberg
Since not being selected in the Expansion Draft, Soberberg has amassed 86 points in 159 games. Only four Golden Knights have reached at least 86 points in the two-year history of the team (Marchessault, Karlsson, Tuch). Soderberg also received Selke votes in 2018-19. The $4,750,000 cap hit would have been a bit tricky on the Golden Knights, but a player like Soderberg certainly seems exponentially more valuable than what Vegas got out of Pickard.
VGK Pick: Griffin Reinhart
Exposed: Laurent Brossoit
Reinhart was selected based on potential. A former top-five pick the Golden Knights thought they could be the team to figure him out. They weren’t. Meanwhile, Brossoit became one of the best backups in the NHL in 2018-19 and completely shut down the Golden Knights in every appearance. Who knows what the future will hold for Brossoit behind Connor Hellebuyck in Winnipeg, but if you gave most the option of Malcolm Subban or Brossoit as the Golden Knights “goalie of the future,” most would probably take Brossoit.
New York Rangers
VGK Pick: Oscar Lindberg (traded with Erik Brannstrom and 2nd Round pick for Mark Stone)
Exposed: Michael Grabner, Jesper Fast, Antti Raanta
Lindberg was an extra forward for the Golden Knights for most of his time before being moved in a deal for Stone. Grabner is an excellent penalty killer and plays with much more speed than Lindberg, Fast is a defense-first right-handed winger who has received Selke votes in his career and has multiple 30 point seasons, and Raanta had an excellent season in 17-18 with the Coyotes before getting injured and missing a lot of 18-19. Lindberg never lived up to his potential in Vegas, maybe one of these three may have. (But maybe they wouldn’t have helped fetch Stone either.)
VGK Pick: Teemu Pulkkinen
Exposed: Kevin Connauton
This one felt almost like a complete pass by the Golden Knights as Pulkkinen never really had a shot. His single excellent skill is his shot which is deadly on a power play, but without the rest of the game, it’s hard to ever show it. Pulkkinen played with the Chicago Wolves for one year before heading to the KHL. Connauton has been a quiet stalwart for the Coyotes defense. He’s a stay-at-home guy that starts a majority of his shifts in the d-zone and chips in offensively from time to time. This offseason he was traded with a 3rd round pick for Carl Soderberg. Vegas had a glut of defensemen, but it’s not crazy to think Connauton could have been an option to avoid the signing of Nick Holden.
All in all, not much, right? This furthers the point of how incredibly well the Golden Knights did in the Expansion Draft. Adding Soderberg, Brossoit, Fast, and Connauton would certainly have made Vegas better, but not by much and the cap space issue would be even larger.
30 selections, four minor mistakes. Insane. Good luck to Ron Francis and Seattle in coming close to that.
**If you want to go back and take a look at what was available from each team, here’s the full Expansion Draft protected and exposed lists and here’s our “Rotten Tomatoes” guide to the Expansion Draft showing experts and fans expected selections.**