Published: Mon, June 26, 2017
Sport | By Fredrick Flores

Expansion Vegas loads up on D-men, could make more trades


CHICAGO — The NHL stage belongs to Ray Shero and the New Jersey Devils. "I'm just excited to get drafted and have a chance to try out for an National Hockey League team".

"It's a hard draft", said McPhee, the franchise's GM.

The expansion draft affects every team in the league, so numerous stars convening in Vegas will be paying close attention to the names of the teammates they'll be losing to Sin City. It might have been an upgraded draft pick plus a player, all kinds of different situations.”.

Recent drafts saw No. 1 overall picks that not only landed in the National Hockey League right away but dominated. Just being there and walking down the strip, you don't get that in Winnipeg.

The NHL Entry Draft continues through the weekend with 8 News Now Sports Director Chris Maathuis providing coverage on the Golden Knights selections.

The Golden Knights passed on 23-year-old defensemen Slater Koekkoek and Jake Dotchin in exchange for 32-year-old defenseman Jason Garrison, a 2017 second-round pick and a 2018 fourth-round pick from the Lightning.

The other 30 teams protected either seven forwards, three defencemen and a goaltender, or eight skaters and a goalie. Luca played in 109 games over parts of three seasons with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and the Portland Winterhawks.

The milestones will keep coming for the Golden Knights throughout the summer while they build toward the first game in franchise history in Dallas on October 6, followed by their home debut October 10 against the Coyotes.

Marc-Andre Fleury: Fleury ranks up there with John Vanbiesbrouck as one of the top goalies ever selected by an expansion franchise.

New York Islanders: Vegas General Manager George McPhee chose to pay back his old boss in New York's Garth Snow by fleecing him. After playing 50 games with the Avs last season, he's probably the only player that can say going to Vegas could be a step up.

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The NHL's 31st franchise ended up picking 13 on defence, including Methot, the long-time defence partner of Ottawa Senators captain and Norris trophy nominee, Erik Karlsson.

The existing Golden Knights' blue line isn't bad: Brayden McNabb from Los Angeles, Colin Miller from Boston, Jon Merrill from New Jersey and Griffin Reinhart from Edmonton.

The Knights aren't expected to keep them all, though Engelland seems a sure bet.

"It's good to get a deal done", Engelland said. "They don't have to fly back and forth anywhere and they get to stay in the school they're already in". For it to finally happen, it's wonderful. Them showing interest in wanting me here and taking me in the expansion draft when they could've passed and waited until free agency to try and sign me showed a lot. But that's not likely to be the case here with the Knights preferring to load up on assets that will help in the construction of a more sustainable victor down the line.

The NHL wrote its draft rules to give the Golden Knights more opportunities to compete early in their existence, and their expansion draft choices certainly appear to form a solid core that could make noise in the Pacific Division.

There's a case to be made that the Knights should have taken goaltender Philipp Grubauer but this was the wiser move. James Neal, Vadim Shipachyov, Reilly Smith, and David Perron will give Vegas some scoring power.

Most of those selected up front were depth types or prospects with minimal experience, including Oscar Lindberg, Tomas Nosek, William Carrier, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Teemu Pulkkinen and Brendan Leipsic. He sustained a sport hernia last summer that hampered him during his season with Brandon of the Western Hockey League, but he finished with 20 goals and 46 points in 33 games.

This was one of the few no-brainers that McPhee didn't screw up.

Former Medicine Hat Tiger David Schlemko joins the Golden Knights. At least 20 of those players must be under contract for the 2017-18 season with average annual salaries that add up to at least $43.8 million, or 60 percent of the salary cap for the upcoming season.

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