NHL Expansion Draft: Vegas Golden Knights Building Solid Foundation

© Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports NHL: NHL Awards and Expansion Draft

The NHL Awards had a different feel this year as the league mixed in a roster unveiling party on Wednesday night for its newest franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights.


Fans watched anxiously in T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas as awards were handed out, awaiting their team's logo to hit the board behind Golden Knights owner Bill Foley and general manager George McPhee.


Players were "drafted" in order -- except when Foley jumped the Detroit Red Wings for the Dallas Stars -- of worst to best. It began with Foley picking goaltender Calvin Pickard of the Colorado Avalanche and ended with McPhee selecting Nate Schmidt of the Washington Capitals, where McPhee 17 spent years as the GM from 1997-2014.

Goalies (3)

Calvin Pickard, Colorado Avalanche

J.F. Berube, New York Islanders

Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins

Forwards (14)

Teemu Pulkkinen, Arizona Coyotes

William Carrier, Buffalo Sabres

Tomas Nosek, Detroit Red Wings

Cody Eakin, Dallas Stars

Jonathan Marchessault, Florida Panthers

Connor Brickley, Carolina Hurricanes

Chris Thorburn, Winnipeg Jets

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Philadelphia Flyers

Erik Haula, Minnesota Wild

William Karlsson, Columbus Blue Jackets

James Neal, Nashville Predators

Brendan Leipsic, Toronto Maple Leafs

David Perron, St. Louis Blues

Oscar Lindberg, New York Rangers

Defensemen (13)

Luca Sbisa, Vancouver Canucks

Jon Merrill, New Jersey Devils

Brayden McNabb, Los Angeles Kings

Jason Garrison, Tampa Bay Lightning

Deryk Engelland, Calgary Flames

Colin Miller, Boston Bruins

Marc Methot, Ottawa Senators

David Schlemko, San Jose Sharks

Griffin Reinhart, Edmonton Oilers

Alexei Emelin, Montreal Canadiens

Clayton Stoner, Anaheim Ducks

Trevor van Riemsdyk, Chicago Blackhawks

Nate Schmidt, Washington Capitals

These selections will join the three players already in the Vegas organization, which include Reid Duke of the WHL and Vadim Shipachyov of the KHL. But some of the above names are formalities of the process as various teams struck side deals with the club.


Anaheim enticed McPhee to draft Stoner in exchange for high-end defensive prospect Shea Theodore. Florida traded Reilly Smith to deter McPhee from drafting defenseman Jason Demers. Tampa Bay offered prospect Nikita Gusev in exchange for taking the Garrison contract.


Some of those deals included draft picks, as well. Vegas now holds picks Nos. 6, 15, 34, and 45 in addition to seven other picks in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft.


Since the close of the draft Wednesday night, speculation has been rampant of potential flips and other deals yet to be released, or even agreed upon. But until these trades happen, here is a look of the potential opening-night roster for the NHL's 31st franchise.




This projected lineup clearly excludes some of the expansion picks due to the roster limit of 23. This is where McPhee's strategy came in. At the beginning of the season, the team will be forced to place a handful of its expansion draftees on waivers, some of whom will be claimed while others will pass down to Vegas' AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves.


Taking smaller names and unproven NHL players will help ensure they make it to the Wolves without being claimed by various NHL teams.


Should some speculation come to fruition, this roster will certainly change. McPhee took a plethora of defenseman to corner the market on a prime position and will likely continue to stockpile draft picks for the future (see, Methot, Schlemko, and Emelin).


Following likely deals, Vegas' roster shows an immediate edge on the former expansion teams of the past two decades. On paper, the Golden Knights will compete every night and leave everything on the ice as a gritty, in-your-face club with defensive awareness and scoring upside.


Have a question or a comment for Jacob Messing? You can find him on Twitter @JMessing23.

'If You Ain't First, You're Last': Erie Otters Take Step Back In OHL

Erie Otters Erie Otters Training.jpg

By Jacob Messing

A historic Erie Otters season ended suddenly in late May when host Windsor defeated the regular season champions 4-3 for the Memorial Cup, given to the winner of a four-team tournament played

Knights Have ‘Golden’ NHL Debut

© Anne-Marie Sorvin-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Preseason-Vegas Golden Knights at Vancouver Canucks

By Jacob Messing

The past few months have been full of firsts for the Vegas Golden Knights, the NHL’s 31st franchise.

In March they signed Brandon Wheat Kings center Reid Duke, in June they sifted through opposing rosters during the expansion draft and selected one player from each team, and later in the summer they unveiled their home jerseys.

10 NCAA Players To Watch In 2017-18


By Jacob Messing

The wait is almost over for hockey fans.

Social media is teeming with #IsItOctoberYet, NHL training camps have started, and teams are beginning to take shape. But mid-September doesn’t just mean a new professional season; the puck is set to drop October 1 for college hockey.

Who Will Replace Nashville's Ryan Ellis?

© Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Anaheim Ducks at Nashville Predators

By Jacob Messing

Last week, the Nashville Predators announced they would be without rising defenseman Ryan Ellis until the turn of the calendar year. The 26-year-old Canadian is recovering from offseason knee surgery and has not begun skating yet.

Intersection Of NHL Trading Trends And Matt Duchene Deal

© Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Ottawa Senators at Colorado Avalanche

By Jacob Messing

Is Nugent-Hopkins A Fit As Penguins Third Line Center?

© Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports NCAA Hockey: Frozen Four-Boston University vs North Dakota

By Jacob Messing

A New Test For Griffins’ Sadowy

© Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Stanley Cup Playoffs-Anaheim Ducks at Nashville Predators

By Jacob Messing

The last three years have been complicated for Dylan Sadowy.

He’s played in the OHL, AHL, and ECHL, been drafted into the NHL by one team, and traded to another -- although he’s yet to play a game in the world’s best league.

5 Best NHL Players On Each Side Of 30

© Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Pittsburgh Penguins at Edmonton Oilers

By Jacob Messing

Earlier this month, Sidney Crosby turned 30 years old, and even at that benchmark age the Pittsburgh Penguins captain still remains at the forefront of any argument about who is the best player in the world.

However, that’s not to say a new generation of budding stars won’t be entering the conversation soon.

The NHL is becoming increasingly younger, and 20-year-old phenom Connor McDavid highlights the future of the game. So, rather than compare them -- given that Crosby has 10 years on the Edmonton Oilers’ young captain -- we decided to break down the best players by age groups, those above 30 and those below.

AHL Sophomores To Watch In 2017-18

© Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports NHL: Toronto Maple Leafs at Buffalo Sabres

By Jacob Messing

Late summer is typically when hockey fans ask, “Is it October yet?”

While the start of the season is still a long way off, camps begin in a month -- a time for high-end prospects and AHL players to get good, long looks from their coaches as teams push for roster spots and players seek to fulfill their NHL dreams.

Why Danis Zaripov Won’t Find An NHL Home

© Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports OLYMPICS: Mens Hockey-Russia vs Czech Republic

By Jacob Messing

KHL star Danis Zaripov is reportedly eyeing to play his hockey stateside after a two-year ban from the International Ice Hockey Federation for a failed drug test. Both organizations follow the policies of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA), resulting in Russian side AK Bars Kazan voiding Zaripov’s recently signed two-year deal.