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FFH Round Table: Vegas Golden Knights Mock Expansion Draft

Five of the FFH Staff take a stab at making their own roster for the Golden Knights.

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From The Managing Editor:

Help us celebrate the launch of our new sister site Knights On Ice, your one stop shop for all things Las Vegas Hockey and the Golden Knights!

The Managing Editor Danny wrote a great introduction, an amazing post on why hockey will work in Vegas (we know that feel), and they have just selected in the mock draft as well. Please give them a follow on Twitter at @knights_on_ice and on Facebook.

Spread the desert hockey love and support the Golden Knights and Knights on Ice. We can build a rivalry later, but first, let's show everyone that two teams can survive in the desert.

In celebration of our newest sister site and the newest NHL team, I posed a simple idea to my writers in our messaging system: “So, you wanna be a GM.”

With two weeks to research, plan, and make their picks, the Five For Howling writing and editing staff came up with their own selections for the Vegas Golden Knights.

Vegas Mock Draft

Team Sarah Jess Alex Brandon Jason
Team Sarah Jess Alex Brandon Jason
Anaheim Jakob Silfverberg (F) Jakob Silfverberg (F) Josh Manson (D) Jakob Silfverberg (F) Sami Vatanen (D)
Arizona Jamie McGinn (F) Jamie McGinn (F) Jamie McGinn (F) Luke Schenn (D) Brad Richardson (F)
Boston Kevan Miller (D) Matt Beleskey (F) Matt Beleskey (F) Kevan Miller (D) Adam McQuaid (D)
Buffalo Matt Moulson (F) Evander Kane (F) Evander Kane (F) Matt Moulson (F) Nicolas Deslauriers (F)
Calgary Lance Bouma (F) Alex Chiasson (F) Sam Bennett (F) Matt Bartkowski (D) Alex Chiasson (F)
Carolina Klas Dahlbeck (D) Klas Dahlbeck (D) Phillip Di Giuseppe (F) Cam Ward (G) Lee Stempniak (F)
Chicago Trevor van Riemsdyk (D) Trevor van Riemsdyk (D) Trevor van Riemsdyk (D) Trevor van Riemsdyk (D) Trevor van Riemsdyk (D)
Colorado Calvin Pickard (G) Calvin Pickard (G) Matt Nieto (F) Sven Andrighetto (F) Mikhail Grigorenko (F)
Columbus William Karlsson (F) William Karlsson (F) Joonas Korpisalo (G) William Karlsson (F) William Karlsson (F)
Dallas Stephen Johns (D) Patrik Nemeth (D) Annti Niemi (G) Patrick Sharp (F) Patrik Nemeth (D)
Detroit Luke Glendening (F) Luke Glendening (F) Jared Coreau (G) Xavier Ouellet (D) Darren Helm (F)
Edmonton Benoit Pouliot (F) Griffin Reinhart (D) Griffin Reinhart (D) Benoit Pouliot (F) Iiro Pakarinen (F)
Florida Jason Demers (D) Jason Demers (D) Mark Pysyk (D) Jason Demers (D) Alex Petrovic (D)
Los Angeles Dustin Brown (F) Dustin Brown (F) Trever Lewis (F) Dustin Brown (F) Kyle Clifford (F)
Minnesota Marco Scandella (D) Marco Scandella (D) Jared Spurgeon (D) Marco Scandella (D) Marco Scandella (D)
Montreal Jordie Benn (D) Brandon Davidson (D) Brandon Davidson (D) Jordie Benn (D) Brandon Davidson (D)
Nashville Calle Jarnkrok (F) Calle Jarkkrok (F) James Neal (F) Calle Jarnkrok (F) Colin Wilson (F)
New Jersey Ben Lovejoy (D) Stefan Noesen (F) Stefan Noesen (F) Jacob Josefson (F) Jon Merrill (D)
New York Rangers Antti Raanta (G) Antti Raanta (G) Nick Holden (D) Antti Raanta (G) Antti Raanta (G)
New York Islanders Thomas Hickey (D) Calvin de Haan (D) Ryan Strome (F) Thomas Hickey (D) Calvin de Haan (D)
Ottawa Alexandre Burrows (F) Alexandre Burrows (F) Bobby Ryan (F) Alexandre Burrows (F) Alexandre Burrows (F)
Philadelphia Michael Del Zotto (D) Micahel Del Zotto (D) Michael Del Zotto (D) Michael Raffl (F) Michael Raffl (F)
Pittsburgh Tom Kuhnhackl (F) Tom Kuhnhackl (F) Carl Hagelin (F) Tom Kuhnhackl (F) Marc-Andre Fleury (G)
San Jose Mikkel Boedker (F) Mikkel Boedker (F) Mikkel Boedker (F) Jannik Hansen (F) Paul Martin (D)
Saint Louis Dmitiri Jaskin Carl Gunnarsson (D) Carl Gunnarsson (D) Robert Bortuzzo (D) Kyle Brodziak (F)
Tampa Bay Vladislav Namestnikov (F) Vladislav Namestnikov (F) Vladislav Namestnikov (F) Vladislav Namestnikov (F) Alex Killorn (F)
Toronto Martin Marincin (D) Martin Marincin (D) Leo Komarov (F) Martin Marincin (F) Martin Marincin (D)
Vancouver Lucas Sbisa (D) Luca Sbisa (D) Brandon Sutter (F) Luca Sbisa (D) Brandon Sutter (F)
Washington Philipp Grubauer (G) Philipp Grubauer (G) Philipp Grubauer (G) Philipp Grubauer (G) Philipp Grubauer (G)
Winnipeg Adam Lowry (F) Adam Lowry (F) Adam Lowry (F) Adam Lowry (F) Shawn Matthias (F)

Most difficult team to pick from?

Sarah: For me, it was Vancouver and Pittsburgh.

Temesy: Tampa

Jason: It had to be one of the teams that only offered players who were overpaid or strictly bottom-six role players. The Buffalo Sabres were a bit difficult: Matt Moulson is probably okay, but not at $5 million per year. The Colorado Avalanche and Vancouver Canucks were also a bit difficult to choose from.

Jessica: The hardest team for me was St. Louis, though only because I’m not entirely familiar with their roster like I am the rest of the league.

Brandon: I was actually surprised how many teams had very little to offer, either no-name players or notable players with albatross contracts. McPhee (Vegas GM) definitely has his work cut out for him. To answer the question though, I’d have to say teams like the Carolina Hurricanes, Los Angeles Kings, and New Jersey Devils were some of the hardest. The Nashville Predators were difficult too, but for the opposite reason - I could’ve made an argument for drafting a few of their players and had a hard time deciding between Calle Jarnkrok and Colin Wilson.

Easiest Team to Pick from?

Sarah: The Capitals

Temesy: Washington

Jason: New York Rangers. Antti Raanta with that contract as an extremely cheap starter or very quality backup was a no-brainer. Another easy one was the Anaheim Ducks. Regardless of whether they go 7/3/1 or 8/1, they had to expose a quality player that ended up being a quick snag.

Jessica: The New York Rangers and the Washington Capitals for sure.

Brandon: Columbus Blue Jackets and Tampa Bay Lightning. William Karlsson and Vladislav Namestnikov were no-brainers to me. Pittsburgh would be too if they don’t trade one of their goaltenders for some reason.

Explanation of your roster If you have any off the wall picks and/or NMC’s that have been waived.

Sarah: I didn’t have any waived NMC’s or any strange picks. It could be completely wrong, but a boring/safe roster that is under the cap totally works more than an overambitious one that is over.

Temesy: I had Fleury’s NMC waived but moved to another undetermined team. I think Vegas over-picks on exposed talent, particularly forwards so that they can wheel and deal with other teams, or make other teams do the same. Hence, my over-picking of medium to higher line forwards. I think a lot of talent will get moved at or just before the exposure lists are turned in, then the depth guys will be picked up in deals to exchange that selected talent with picks and so on. I also saw this as an opportunity for some teams to make cap (NSH, SJS, PIT, OTT).

Jason: My roster’s a bit weird. I tried to balance taking quality players while leaving some cap space for other moves (the expansion draft will give Vegas 30 players, but they will need around 47 or so total). I had to make multiple revisions since the first time around I actually went over the salary cap of $73 million, and I wanted to give them around $10 million in cap space after their moves. I had Kevin Bieksa, Rick Nash, Dion Phaneuf, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Ryan Callahan waive their NMCs, but only Fleury ended up getting taken. With the Rangers, I could see them trying to get both Marc Staal and Dan Girardi to waive their NMCs, but to me, Raanta is the easiest call to take in this exercise, so I could see the Rangers just protecting those two and Ryan McDonagh. If the Rangers trade Raanta for assets instead of losing him for nothing, then I can definitely see the Rangers asking Nash, Staal, and Girardi to all waive their NMCs.

Jessica: I had a few players waive NTCs but was going for more of a split team. Some strong, younger guys and some older veterans who could all have a solid impact in Vegas, all players who could also potentially be flipped in another trade to another team. Like Temsey, I trended towards middle to higher end talent that could be used in deals like he explained above. My biggest thing was wanting to give Vegas the cap space to wheel and deal but not be too close to the floor. I ended up with about $14.7M in cap space left, which is about average for the NHL.

Brandon: I based my available roster off of Capfriendly’s Quick Protect option, which means some players that others drafted weren’t available to me. But I didn’t let that completely fool me into thinking the Penguins will offer up either Marc-Andre Fleury or Matt Murray. I tried to build a somewhat balanced team, but when in doubt, picked a young RFA, as there will most definitely be plenty of trades during the aftermath of the draft to pare down the roster to a more manageable one. I picked up a large number of defensemen (12) for this reason as well.

Most Important, Last Question

Will Vegas be a contender?

Sarah: Maybe, but I think they want to build their true team through the draft. It could be lean for a few years, but I don’t see them being bottom dwellers of the Pacific.

Temesy: Yes, if the goaltending holds

Jason: Will they be competitive? Sure: they’ll be in games. Will they be a contender? I’d feel extremely comfortable saying no. I don’t think they’ll make the playoffs, and if they ended up with a pick in the double-digits in the 2018 Draft, I’d be very surprised. I get that Vegas can take quality talent (either a top-four defenseman or top-nine forward) from all 30 teams, but that’s a spin on the fact that Vegas is getting to pick off every roster’s scrap heap. Again, a lot of the exposed players are either overpaid or strictly role players to fill out the bottom-six. A lot of the players I left exposed for this exercise were also older guys with term. For reference, I don’t think they’ll be better than this past season’s Dallas Stars team, and that team finished 11th in the West and 15 points out of a playoff spot.

Jessica: There are so many factors that will go into this. They’ll be a competitive team, but in my opinion, I’m not so sure about a contender. It would take a lot of their picks and trades going exactly the right way and even then, a team that’s good on paper isn’t always good on the ice (a la Coyotes and the Dallas Stars this 2016-17 season). Also, their AHL depth of guys they could bring up in case of injury or otherwise is going to be a pretty shallow pool for a while until they start signing players and stocking up on draftees. Maybe in a few years they’ll be a serious contender, but not this soon.

Brandon: Playoff contender? Maybe. I’m guessing they finish 8th-10th in the conference. Solid goaltending or a key injury would have an immense impact on their fortunes.

Let us know who would you select if you were GM McPhee in Las Vegas! Build your mock-ups in the comments below and on June 21st, we’ll see who was the closest!