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Expansion Flip Trades Are Coming, Believe Me

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.

This is even before you consider the possibility of opening up roster spots for Erik Tuch, and maybe Brendan Leipsic, Tomas Nosek, and/or Jake Bischoff.

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.



Next Entry Draft Live Blog


  1. Cody

    See what Pulkinnen has. Dude is a sniper in sheep’s clothing.

  2. Jeff

    Just read through our schedule. What a brutal 2 weeks in February with 7 home games in a row in 13 days. A game at home every other night for 2 straight weeks.

  3. RJ

    This is a great list and I think you are exactly in GM’s mind. One note Thorburn is a UFA so there is no harm in just letting him hit the market as a punt.

    • Excellent call. Gonna add that in to the article now. Well done.

    • James

      The Golden Knights will struggle to generate offense … In my opinion Marko Daňo (1 Year / $850,000 AAV) was worth a flier instead of punting. Along the same lines as Pulkinnen. Low risk, high reward. You just never know you might uncover the next Jonathan Marchessault

      • RJ

        100% agree. Even if Dana was worth a 7th rounder or a part of a bigger deal I’d have grabbed an asset instead of a punt. Worst case I’m sure there was a decent two way contract we could have drafted (I have no idea what name) to sit in Chicago in case we need some injury insurance. Drafting a UFA just to let him fall off the roster seems weird when there is some value available, even limited.

        • James

          I would like to know if McPhee was forced to choose Chris Thorburn due to the trade … Either that or he thinks Winnipeg ‘had nothing of value’ worth paying for.

        • James

          ‘Even if Dana was worth a 7th rounder or a part of a bigger deal I’d have grabbed an asset instead of a punt.’

          I guess you could argue that a team would have offered McPhee a 7th rounder at the weekend for Daňo after the list of players were released if they really wanted him. McPhee wouldn’t walk away from a 7th rounder in favour of getting nothing. You can make the same argument for household name Petr Mrázek. Media perception is not always reality! Perhaps they aren’t worth anything.

  4. Carmine

    Getting draft picks is all well and good, especially first rounders, but you gotta keep young talented players (like Lindberg, Theodore) who just need more ice time to be productive players. Hey, we need to see some talent on the ice a T-MOBILE Arena.


    Let’s be honest, team looks like garbage. McPhee seems more worried about not pissing off other teams than losing his own fan base. They could have drafted a much better team than this. And then he’s just giving guys away like Schlemko for a 5th rounder in 2019??? Bright side is the tickets are going to be real cheap, real soon to see the Golden Tanks!

    • James

      ‘And then he’s just giving guys away like Schlemko for a 5th rounder in 2019???’

      To be fair Pierre McGuire said this is the weakest draft since 1999 … He pointed to 2019 and 2020 as strong draft classes. I was hoping for more, but I would rather have a 5th rounder in 2019 than 2017

      • Phisig150

        The weakest draft since 99 so of course let’s add two 1st rounders.

  6. Julian

    Does it matter whos here or not the 1st few years?Vegas has a pro team people need to relax and enjoy it.The wins will come eventually.I got season tickets not expecting much except enjoying finally a pro sport here.

    • Really doesn’t matter in the least. But, my all time favorite thing in sports is “hot stove” and there’s never been a hotter stove than this.

    • Phisig150

      Will be exciting when something actually matters. I keep being told nothing matters outside of us having a team

  7. James

    ‘They could have drafted a much better team than this.’

    For me it was a mixed bag. Selecting Deryk Engelland was another curious move – Signing the Las Vegas resident felt like a publicity stunt. We could have signed him on July 1 and selected Brett Kulak.

  8. James

    Best and worst picks? (In your opinion)

    • PhiSig 150

      van Riemsdyk
      Islanders and Tampa trade

      Lindberg- should have taken Raanta or gotten pick to pass on him
      Nosek- should have gone with Mrazek or Oulette
      Schlemkko- should have went with Dillon instead of 5th round 19 pick
      Calgary- Sign Engelland later take Kulak
      Anaheim- should have been squeezed for more
      Columbus-Wouldn’t have passed on Korpisalo

      Minnesota- should have squeezed them for a whole lot more

  9. Willy702

    I think Neal, Perron and Garrison get flipped in season. Too much value to keep them when there is a market for those types of players closer to the deadline when teams can better afford their cap hits. Pickard too for teams who don’t like how their G situation looks later, but right now GMGM made a good call on how the goalie market is playing out. Frankly anyone over 25 is a good trade target, even Fleury isn’t a sure thing to stay but probably hangs around a season plus until his contract is almost up.

    • PhiSig 150

      Passing on Raanta was a good call? Could picked up the 7th pick or just kept him for the future. I think we’re also going to live to regret passing on Korpisalo. Mrazek is debatable.

      • Willy702

        I would have rather had Korpisalo too, but it seems like GMGM was most struggling with filling the forward ranks so he probably was fine to get Karlsson. Either was going to be a foundation player, not someone to flip. I don’t know if Pickard is a guy they want long term so a flip asset to a needy team he becomes. He’s not an ideal #1 like Korpisalo could be, but a team with a shaky backup or an injured starter could overpay somewhat for him.

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