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Entry Draft, Not Expansion Draft, Bigger Challenge For First Year Organization

Here at and across the hockey media world much of the focus of the new Las Vegas franchise has been on the Expansion Draft. But the draft three days later might be the one that’ll be tougher for Vegas to prepare for, and definitely will have the longest term impact on the future of the budding organization.

It’s seems counterintuitive that the draft almost every member on the staff has been through will be tougher to prepare for than the one that’s new. But it makes more sense when you consider the staffs in place to deal with each draft.

On the Expansion Draft side, in addition to the big Mc’s at the helm, McPhee and McCrimmon, you have a collection of professional scouts, a capologist, and a guy who created a website tool specifically focused on the Expansion Draft. The important part of this staff is, not a single one of them have gone through this process before. There are no preconceived notions, there are no prior successes, and there’s not a single guy in the room with a cynical thought stemming from a disastrous moment in their hockey past.

So now flip over to the amateur draft side of things. Once again we’ve got Team McMc in charge, with Scott Luce and his staff of six amateur scouts doing the grunt work.

McPhee came from Washington where he participated in 17 drafts as the GM. McCrimmon, formerly the GM of the Brandon Wheat Kings has been sending kids into the Entry Draft for more than a decade. Luce has been with the Florida Panthers since 2002, and his amateur scouting staff has guys from the Edmonton Oilers, the WHL, NCAA, and Team USA.

To put it softly, in that war room there will be a lot of different ideas on exactly how to come to a conclusion on which youngster to draft.

We were still developing our template for reports at that point, trying to establish a system that everyone on our staff is comfortable with. And really, we’re still working on that. We’ll be tweaking it as we go along this season. With just a couple of exceptions, they’ve never read each others’ reports. They’ve never sat in a war room together. They’ve never put together a list. They’ve never been sat around the table on the floor at the draft together. –Scott Luce, Director of Amateur Scouting to

And that’s a bit of a problem. Think about how it works on the ice. Put a collection of superstars together, it always takes time for them to gel, and in some instances it never even works out.

There’s no question the Las Vegas front office is somewhat of a dream team, and that bodes very well for the Expansion Draft, but if they want to have success later that week, they’ll have to come together quick, which is easier said than done.



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  1. Michael

    Great article, Ken. This whole process of starting up the franchise is like putting a 10,000 piece jigsaw together, it seems, and it is fascinating to see it unfold, with those two drafts plus free agency being big stacks of jigsaw pieces to get right.

  2. Slack

    Patience. While the entry draft top two or three picks are usually studs of late, there really is a lot of luck involved. These kids are 18 years old and nobody has a crystal ball to see how they develop no matter what you believe. Ken Holland of Detroit was once considered great at finding late round talent, the best being Pavel Datsyuk in the 5th round. I always contend that if he thought Datsyuk was that good, why did he take Ryan Barnes, Jake McCracken, Brent Hobday, Calle Steen and Adam Deleeuw AHEAD of him. See my point? This is not to say our staff doesn’t need to do its homework but there is a lot of roulette, if not keno odds involved. Good thing we’ve got a few places in town to practice.

    • James

      I have pretty high expectations. I would be disappointed if the team doesn’t hit on three picks to keep their future stocked with prospects. I would normally be fine with hitting on two picks, but the team is picking near the top of the draft.

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