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McPhee Finds Silver Lining In Protection Lists Being Made Public

The decision by the NHL to make the Expansion Protection Lists public was applauded by media and fans alike, but GM’s around the league were not so thrilled about the idea of having to reveal their “secrets” to the rest of the world. We’re not sure which side the Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee was on during the discussions the GM meetings, but we sure know what he thinks about the lists being public now.

We like it from our stand point because now everyone is going to know what’s going on. We think teams are going to call us and say, ‘You know what that team over there has exposed a guy that we would really like to have. Can we do a deal with you to get that guy.’ That’s kind of the secondary market we are looking at that could be really fruitful for us. –George McPhee to The Rink Rats

That secondary market is one we’ve been talking about for a long time, and is the main asset the Golden Knights have in the Expansion Draft. Despite the many mock drafts out there striving to find the 30 best available players, Vegas is much more likely to utilize every selection from every team as a tradeable asset. The goal isn’t to put a winning team on the ice this season, it’s to build the foundation of the franchise. Whether it’s a deal to take a player, a deal to not take a player, or a deal to give a player to someone else, McPhee and the Golden Knights will be working hard to turn the Expansion Draft into NHL currency. That currency being draft picks and/or prospects, and friendly contracts… not 32-year-old former Stanley Cup winning Captain right wingers.

McPhee makes a great point in saying that if the lists were not public, other GMs wouldn’t be able to see the entire universe of available players and it would limit the deals Vegas could pull off. Of course, George could have simply told his fellow GMs which players are available during phone calls, but there is an element of time involved in this draft and also a level of gamesmanship that would have been involved that’s no longer there. (It’s hard to get a fair deal with someone who has much more information than you do.)

The Creator mentioned in multiple interviews over the past week that he expects his team to end up with plenty of draft picks. Sitting in on the mock drafts, he knows the strategy McPhee is planning on deploying, and odds are, that strategy includes a heck of a lot of wheeling and dealing. The lists being public will hopefully speed up the process and expand that secondary market in a way that majorly benefits the Golden Knights. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again because it’s crazy, but true. For 72 hours at the end of June, the Golden Knights own the rights to every single player left unprotected in the Expansion Draft. A pool of over 400 players. All roads go through Vegas from June 17th to the 20th, the Golden Knights must take advantage of it.

We will explain all of our moves to anyone who wants to listen and we will do the very best we can. They are not all going to work out but we will do the best we can. -McPhee

Here’s to hoping he really means this, because I would LOVE to write the story breaking down the explanation of all 30 selections. Unfortunately, I doubt it’ll work that way. But hey, he did say it, and now we’ve got it in writing, so you never know, there could be an amazing podcast in our near future.


Expansion Draft Reveal Combined With NHL Awards At T-Mobile Arena

Next Podcast #61: Sir Gallant And The Media


  1. NedRyerson57

    I know it’s fashionable to knock Brown but he had a good season. Yes, his contract sucks but you could do worse.

  2. James

    @Ken Boehlke
    ‘We think teams are going to call us and say, ‘You know what that team over there has exposed a guy that we would really like to have. Can we do a deal with you to get that guy.’ That’s kind of the secondary market we are looking at that could be really fruitful for us.’

    For some reason, I was under the impression that McPhee couldn’t trade expansion draftees until sometime in the following year. I thought he had to make a deal before the expansion draft or wait until 2018.

    • Joe

      Technically, McPhee can only carry 23 players on opening night. Providing they draft 30 tenured players, don’t sign any free agents and have no IR issues, 7 players will be exposed to waivers before opening night. There is no way he will be restricted from making trades.

      • todd little


        if they draft some players on 2-way deals they can simply send them to the minors. They won’t have to waive 7 players. They won’t draft 30 guys on one-way deals unless they are planning on a trading a good number of them.


        The only trade restriction is that players taken in the expansion draft can’t be traded back to their original team until after Jan. 1, 2018. Not really a problem as you can choose a player in the ED and then have 29 other teams you can flip him to.

  3. PhiSig 150

    I never thought they were going to be able to keep the expansion lists secret in the 1st place. In the age of wikileaks and stolen celeb nude selfies everything seems to get out. For the most part I’m sure writers can figure out the entire lists with a couple of exceptions here and there and maybe a big surprise or two. I bet Sin Bin guesses roughly 95% of the names on the lists right. So it’s a slight advantage but not an enormous one. I hope McPhee follows through on his promise to explain who was selected and why. Writers and fans can speculate but to get it straight from the horses mouth would be great.

    • blake

      If McPhee does explain all of his moves and the reasons why he selected, that would be a huge ballsy move. In todays age honesty about decisions is not readily available. I already have respect for McPhee if he does this it will grow exponentially.

  4. Joe

    I think the 400 player statement is rather brusk. He really only has access to one player on each team unless he starts wheeling and dealing with those teams who are willing to give more to retain key players, that is where the true leverage is.

    And he has to be careful not to rebuff a counter offer and cherry pick a team and then trade that player elsewhere. While I’m sure he will flip a player here and there post draft, identifying the players the teams least want to give up is his surest road to riches. An extra pick and a prospect to avoid a player or eat an undesirable contract will build one fat prospect pool for Vegas very quickly.

    Without knowing the motivation of each GM on draft day, mock drafts will be a mockery. I fully expect one of the most frenetic weeks of trading following the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Finals the NHL has ever seen. A number of GMs will likely be shopping their most at risk assets in hope of getting a player that might not have otherwise been available. A few slick GMs will likely have reshuffled the deck before McPhee has his look at the drafters.

    If I’m not mistaken, he has to give the league all his picks at once. It would be interesting to see if anyone reneged on deals after the draft as he couldn’t clear those deals with the NHL before the players at his.

    The twists and turns on this one will be interesting.

    • RJ

      You’re 100% correct about mock drafts. They are fun exercises, but they exist in a bubble. When the actual team takes the ice we have to be very careful to withhold judgement on what McPhee puts together. I’ll trust him until he gives me a reason not to.

  5. todd little

    “For 72 hours at the end of June, the Golden Knights own the rights to every single player left unprotected in the Expansion Draft. A pool of over 400 players.”

    This is not the case at all. They do not “own” the rights to the unprotected players who are under contract. They can negotiate with UFAs and RFAs – that’s a lot different then every single unprotected player,

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