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Three Years Later, Still Hard To Find Expansion Draft Mishaps

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.)

Colorado Avalanche
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.

Edmonton Oilers
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.

(Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

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.)

Arizona Coyotes
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.**


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  1. NedRyerson57

    You’re doing fine without him, but if you’re doing this… You should have picked Dustin Brown. No telling what else the Kings would have
    thrown in. He’s responded with two strong rebound seasons.

    • McNabb is one of the best defensemen on the team and he signed an insanely cheap contract. No way I’m taking Brown.

      • Cody

        Wish Pulkkinen had been given an actual chance. He was scoring in the preseason before being waived, then didn’t get a call up the whole year despite being hot in the AHL. Threw his body around in the preseason game I attended. Just confusing why people dismiss him so easily. Not giving him games is the big miss imo. I didn’t like the Pickard pick either, Soderberg was pricy though.

    • Mark

      Not over McNabb though. McNabb has been a top pairing Dman for this team on a cup run, and signed a very team friendly extension as well.

    • John

      Yeah, absolutely not. Brown? Who has already played over 1,000 games of rough and tumble style hockey over Mcnabb? The engine of our defense? The Kings are fucked for years because they have all those big slow old men in contracts for a million years. No way you wanna help their situation WHILE leaving them Mcnabb.

      • NedRyerson57

        You obviously don’t know much about Brown the last 2 yrs with that comment.

      • Cody

        Yeah Brown has been one of the bright spots past two years for LA. Contract is an albatross though, wouldn’t have worked with it. Although you don’t get Stone. So question, would you rather have Stone/McNabb or Brown/Brannstrom?

    • thecommish76

      Dustin Brown is a very good player. But, if you are building a team from scratch is a 32-year old right wing making almost $6 million your best option or a defenseman with a lot of potential for less than half that price. I would be curious to see what options were in Toronto besides Brendan Leipsic.

      • Mark

        Here’s Toronto’s list


        Brian Boyle (F)
        Eric Fehr (F)
        Colin Greening (F)
        Seth Griffith (F)
        Teemu Hartikainen (F)
        Brooks Laich (F)
        Brendan Leipsic (F)
        Joffrey Lupul (F)
        Milan Michalek (F)
        Kerby Rychel (F)
        Ben Smith (F)
        Andrew Campbell (D)
        Matt Hunwick (D)
        Alexey Marchenko (D)
        Martin Marincin (D)
        Steve Oleksy (D)
        Roman Polak (D)
        Antoine Bibeau (G)
        Curtis McElhinney (G)
        Garret Sparks (G)

        I think McElhinney would have been the way to go. But even Polak or Boyle. The problem with talking goalies, rather here with Toronto or Edmonton is Prior. Rumors are he really likes Subban, and was even on board with them selecting him over Colin Miller. McPhee and Co played the Boston card correctly and essentially got both, but it feels like any backup goalie would have become Pickard.

  2. Mark

    I feel like the Edmonton one gets too much hate. I know Rhinehart never truly amounted to anything in Vegas, but his 2 years of Chicago depth is better than Brickley from Carolina or even Leipsic from Toronto.


    Ken, I really like the deep investment stories you have been writing, especially as of late. Certainly not like the light fluff pieces Knights on Ice continually write

  4. Joe

    What about taking Engelland when he was a UFA? I always thought that was giving up a piece for nothing.

  5. Bent Hermit

    The biggest miss was Lindberg over Grabner. I had Grabner as #1 then Raanta. There was no way I would of thought they would take Lindberg. The addition of Grabner would of completely changed the team and maybe would of won the cup. A 3rd line of Grabner – Eakin – Tuck would have been a big up grade to what they had. There would have been no need for the Tartar trade so the team would be a lot better off today.

    • Cody

      Everything’s clearer in hindsight. Nobody could’ve predicted Tatar would become a shell of himself after the trade. Grabner would’ve just hurt his groin and missed the entire playoffs.

  6. vgk2019

    It is infuriating when reading other fan boards like TSN, sportsnet etc where guys say that the Knights were “given” top players because of an “unfair” expansion setup by the league. But their bs is refuted by the facts.

    Fact= Deryk Engelland was a 3rd pair dman in Calgary

    Fact= Nate Schmidt was a 3rd pair dman in Wash, when he was not healthy-scratched entirely

    Fact= William Karlsson was a 4th line forward in Columbus

    Fact= even Fleury had lost his starting job in Pitt…. 2 cups with Murray in net

    teams were basically able to protect their top 2 lines, top d pair and top goalie, PLUS all their young 1st and 2nd year stars too

    so, VGK were not “given” anything. They EARNED everything they did in season 1

    • thecommish76

      And all those people picked the Golden Knights to finish dead last before the season started in 2017-18. Bill Foley hired the right people who did the right things. When you hire good people, good things usually happen. They just happened a heck of lot faster than anyone could have ever expected.

  7. Galdom

    Now let’s get Nikita Gusev signed.

  8. Michael Bronowitz

    Thank you for correcting the year MSL was overlooked. And it’s only been TWO years since the expansion draft, not three.
    I also had Grabner instead of Lindberg. Still upset about that one.

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