Now that the Cup has been awarded, the next item on the NHL calendar is the Expansion Draft. The Golden Knights head into this monumental event beginning on July 18th in a unique position, as the only team that will not participate. Being exempt from this draft placed Vegas in a great spot to either poach players off existing teams as they navigation their protection lists or strike a deal with Seattle once the players are selected by the Kraken.
The Golden Knights pulled off 15 trades before, during, and shortly after their Expansion Draft and it’s to be expected Seattle looks to do something similar. Here are five players that could be exposed who might make sense for the Golden Knights next season and beyond.
Mason Appleton, Winnipeg Jets
$900k (1 year)
Appleton is the type of player the Golden Knights are usually after. A right-handed center with a high hockey IQ, plays in all situations, and has shown some offensive upside to his game. He scored 12 goals in 56 games with the Jets this year and did it while being one of the teams more relied upon defensive centers. He’s under $1 million against the cap this season and will be an RFA when the 2021-22 season ends. The Golden Knights have been awesome finding gems hiding down the depth charts on other teams; William Karlsson, Chandler Stephenson, Erik Haula, just to name a few. Mason Appleton could be the next one.
Chris Tierney, Ottawa Senators
$3.5m (1 year)
Recently I suggested the Golden Knights might be wise looking for a defensive option as opposed to more scoring. The idea would be to create a shutdown defensive line that could free up the top-six to do what they’re all paid to do, which is score. Tierney’s move to Ottawa hasn’t really worked out on the stat sheet (shocking), but his defensive usage numbers certainly make him an interesting candidate for VGK. He’s started almost 70% of his shifts in the defensive zone last year in Ottawa and playing under Pete DeBoer he was a 60% D-Zone start guy in San Jose in 2016-17. There’s history with the coach, he absolutely possesses the ability to score if playing with the right guys, and he’s accustomed to a defensive role. Vegas might have to bribe Ottawa or Seattle to eat a portion of that salary which could cost a nice asset but the player himself shouldn’t be too pricey on the trade market either pre or post Expansion Draft.