Las Vegas has begun to take its first steps in its NHL franchise history with the hiring of general manager George McPhee and the installation of the ice surface at T-Mobile Arena. Over the next year, the organization will continue to fill it’s management positions in anticipation of the 2017 Expansion Draft.
Las Vegas will be able to select one skater per team from a list of unprotected players. Gary Bettman and the NHL have organized this version of the Expansion Draft in a slightly different way which will result in a better overall roster being selected, giving Vegas the opportunity to find immediate success in the league.
In the protection stage of the Expansion Draft, each team is able to protect either seven forwards, three defencemen, and one goaltender, or eight skaters and one goaltender.
An interesting topic will be the protection of pending UFA’s. Will team’s feel the need to protect them in order to possibly re-sign them? Or would they be fine losing them for nothing anyway? On the other side, would Las Vegas want to gamble on selecting a UFA, with the hopes of signing them with just a couple weeks before July 1st?
Using General Fanager’s excellent NHL Expansion Mock Draft Tool, the user is able to go through all 30 NHL teams to select which players they believe should be protected. Once that is done, a list for each team is created that shows every player which has been left unprotected and is, therefore, eligible to be selected by Las Vegas. After selecting one skater from each team, the tool previews Vegas’ salary cap information, as well as every player’s contract. If your team is over the salary cap or has some extra cap space, you can always go back to the selection process and make the changes to perfect your Las Vegas roster.
Here is our best shot at the 2017 Las Vegas Expansion Draft, using General Fanager’s NHL Expansion Mock Draft Tool.
Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Jakob Silfverberg, Andrew Cogliano, Nicolas Kerdiles, Rickard Rakell
Sami Vatanen, Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm
Anaheim is able to maintain their core as well as a few younger depth players. They are forced to leave a few solid defencemen unprotected.
Jamie McGinn, Henrik Samuelsson, Tobias Rieder, Anthony Duclair
Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Alex Goligoski, Connor Murphy, Michael Stone
Arizona doesn’t have a whole lot to protect. They choose to protect eight skaters in order to keep four strong defencemen. All their top prospects will be protected.
David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, David Backes, Brad Marchand, Jimmy Hayes, Ryan Spooner, David Pasternak
Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid, Colin Miller
Boston is able to protect their top-six, but choose to protect some young forwards with potential over others with tough contracts. They keep their best three defencemen, with not a lot to protect on the blue-line.
Ryan O’Reilly, Kyle Okposo, Matt Moulson, Tyler Ennis, Marcus Foligno, Johan Larsson, Zemgus Girgensons
Zach Bogosian, Jake McCabe, Rasmus Ristolainen
As a rebuilding team, Buffalo keeps its core of prospects locked up. With Kane causing more trouble than good, the team leaves him available. They also protect their top defensive prospects.
Michael Frolik, Mikael Backlund, Sam Bennett, Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Hunter Shinkaruk, Emile Poirier
Mark Giordano, TJ Brodie, Dougie Hamilton
Calgary is able to maintain their top-three defencemen as well as their young forwards with superstar potential. As a result, a few large contracts are left on the table.
Jordan Staal, Jeff Skinner, Viktor Rask, Elias Lindholm, Joakim Nordstrom, Teuvo Teravainen, Brock McGinn
Justin Faulk, Ryan Murphy, Trevor Carrick
Carolina will be protecting their future more than the present. They lock up some prospects over current NHL calibre players while maintaining a vision of the future. They protect Eddie Lack over aging UFA Cam Ward.
Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Marian Hossa, Artem Anisimov, Marcus Kruger, Ryan Hartman, Mark McNeill
Brent Seabrook, Duncan Keith, Niklas Hjalmarsson
Chicago is able to protect all of their core up front and on the blue-line, as well as a couple promising prospects. This draft will not hurt them.
Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog, Carl Soderberg, Joe Colborne, Mikhail Grigorenko, Rocco Grimaldi
Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie, Nikita Zadorov
Colorado maintains it’s core players and a few secondary prospects as well. They are forced to leave a couple solid defencemen unprotected, and a promising young goaltender as well.
Columbus Blue Jackets:
Brandon Saad, Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, Cam Atkinson, Boone Jenner, William Karlsson, Alexander Wennberg
Seth Jones, Jack Johnson, Ryan Murray
Columbus can protect all of its assets for the future, but will leave a large contract on the table in hopes of the expansion draft being an additional ‘buyout period’.
Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Jason Spezza, Patrik Sharp, Cody Eakin, Valeri Nickushkin, Radek Faksa
John Klingberg, Jamie Oleksiak, Esa Lindell
Dallas will face a few tough decisions, and may be forced to leave a couple solid prospects and NHL calibre defencemen unprotected. The big decision will be between Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi.
Detroit Red Wings:
Henrik Zetterberg, Frans Nielsen, Gustav Nyquist, Justin Abdelkader, Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurco, Anthony Mantha
Mike Green, Danny DeKeyser, Niklas Kronwall
Detroit has the space to protect all the forwards they want, but will have to leave a few solid defencemen unprotected. They will likely choose youngster Petr Mrazek, leaving Jimmy Howard available for Las Vegas.
Jordan Eberle, Milan Lucic, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Benoit Pouliot, Nail Yakupov, Patrick Maroon, Leon Draisaitl
Oscar Klefbom, Adam Larsson, Jordan Oesterle
Edmonton can protect every decent asset they have without a problem, only leaving a couple ‘B’ prospects on the table.
Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trochek, Nick Bjugstad, Jussi Jokinen, Reilly Smith, Jonathan Huberdeau, Colton Sceviour
Keith Yandle, Jason Demers, Aaron Ekblad
Florida will be able to maintain it’s core group of forwards, as well as their newly signed defencemen, but they will be forced to leave a few young, solid d-men unprotected for which Las Vegas will choose from.
Los Angeles Kings:
Anne Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter, Marian Gaborik, Tyler Toffoli, Trevor Lewis, Tanner Pearson
Drew Doughty, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin
Los Angeles has just enough space to protect all of their valuable assets at each position. Some of their young defensive prospects may be left available, but nothing too serious.
Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Eric Staal, Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, Nino Niederreiter, Jason Zucker
Ryan Suter, Jared Spurgeon, Matt Dumba
Minnesota has the leverage to protect its depth players up front but will be forced to leave two good defencemen, Jonas Brodin and Marco Scandella, unprotected.
Tomas Plekanec, Max Pacioretty, Andrew Shaw, Brendan Gallagher, Alex Galchenyuk, Jacob de la Rose, Phillip Danault
Shea Weber, Andrei Markov, Nathan Beaulieu
Montreal doesn’t have the strongest depth in the league, and will be able to protect all valuable skaters they have, leaving just a few AHL’ers available for Vegas to choose from.
Filip Forsberg, James Neal, Ryan Johansen, Craig Smith
P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Mattias Ekholm, Ryan Ellis
Nashville will choose to protect eight skaters in order to keep their top-four defencemen together. As a result, they will need to leave one solid top-six forwards unprotected, likely either Colin Wilson or Craig Smith.
New Jersey Devils:
Taylor Hall, Travis Zajac, Mike Cammalleri, Kyle Palmieri, Adam Henrique, Beau Bennett, Reid Boucher
Andy Greene, Jon Merrill, Damon Severson
New Jersey can protect their top-six and then some up front, and really don’t have much on the blue-line to worry about. They will likely only lose a fourth-line forward to the expansion.
New York Islanders:
John Tavares, Andrew Ladd, Josh Bailey, Brock Nelson
Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Travis Hamonic, Ryan Pulock
The Islanders choose the route of eight skaters so to protect four defencemen. They are fine with losing Mikhail Grabovski or Nikolai Kulemin, but Anders Lee or Thomas Greiss will be a tough pill to swallow.
New York Rangers:
Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, J.T. Miller, Mika Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes
Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Dylan McIlrath
The Rangers are able to protect their valuable forwards, but choose to leave some bad contracted defacement available for the picking. They will likely lose a top-six defenceman.
Bobby Ryan, Derick Brassard, Kyle Turris, Mark Stone, Mike Hoffman, Jean Gabriel-Pageau, Curtis Lazar
Erik Karlsson, Dion Phaneuf, Cody Ceci
Ottawa can lock up all their top NHL calibre players while leaving a few below average defencemen and bottom-six forwards available. Vegas may opt for a prospect from the Sens.
Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier, Wayne Simmonds, Matt Read, Scott Laughton
Michael Del Zotto, Radko Gudas, Shayne Gostisbehere
Philadelphia doesn’t have much defence to protect, but they may be forced to leave some third-line forwards out there. In goal, the Flyers will have a tough decision, but Las Vegas should have better options to choose from anyhow.
Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, Carl Hagelin, Eric Fehr, Scott Wilson
Kris Letang, Olli Maatta, Derrick Pouliot
Pittsburgh can protect everyone they need to, except in the crease. They must choose between Matthew Murray and Marc-Andre Fleury, with Vegas to surely pick up which ever one is left unprotected.
San Jose Sharks:
Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Mikkel Boedker, Joel Ward, Tomas Hertl, Melker Karlsson, Matt Nieto
Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Mirco Mueller
San Jose can protect all of its forward depth with Thornton and Marleau both UFA’s, but may lose a top-six defenceman. In the end, it won’t be a major difference maker.
St. Louis Blues:
Vladimir Tarasenko, Paul Stastny, Alexander Steen, Jaden Schwartz, Jori Lehtera, David Perron, Dmitrij Jaskin
Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester, Kevin Shattenkirk
St. Louis will leave a couple decent NHL players available up front and along the blue line. Patrik Berglund and Carl Gunnarsson will likely both be available.
Tampa Bay Lightning:
Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan, Valtteri Filppula, Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, Jonathan Drouin, Nikita Kucherov
Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman, Slater Koekkoek
Tampa Bay is just able to protect its main forward group, as well as it’s core along the blue line. In goal, the Lightning will likely opt to protect Vasilevski over Ben Bishop, with Bishop being a UFA.
Toronto Maple Leafs:
Name Kadri, James van Riemsdyk, Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov, Peter Holland, Kerby Rychel, Connor Brown
Morgan Rielly, Jake Gardiner, Connor Carrick
Toronto has it’s choice of which prospects to protect, as they certainly will not be losing a star NHL’er or a top prospect. Vegas won’t have much to be excited about with this selection.
Daniel Sedin, Henrik Sedin, Loui Eriksson, Brandon Sutter, Sven Baertschi, Bo Horvat, Markus Granlund
Alexander Edler, Chris Tanev, Erik Gudbranson
Vancouver is in an interesting position and do not have a ton of valuable players to protect. With Ryan Miller set to be a UFA, they should protect Markstrom. Vegas may look for an average prospect from the Canucks.
Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Tom Wilson, Andre Burakovsky
Matt Niskanen, Brooks Orpik, John Carlson
Washington certainly has a plethora of talent of their team, but should be able to keep most of it in check. UFA Karl Alzner may be left unprotected, along with some bottom-six forwards.
Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, Mathieu Perreault, Adam Lowry, Marko Dano, Scott Kosmachuk
Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers, Jacob Trouba
Winnipeg will have a tough choice to either protect several decent prospects, or four defencemen. As a continually rebuilding organization, the prospects seem more important than a 32-year-old Tobias Enstrom will be.
2017 Las Vegas Expansion Mock Draft
- Simon Despres (D) – Anaheim Ducks – $3.7M
- Luke Schenn (D) – Arizona Coyotes – $31.25M
- Matt Beleskey (LW) – Boston Bruins – $3.8M
- Evander Kane (LW) – Buffalo Sabres – $5.25M
- Linden Vey (RW) – Calgary Flames – $700K – RFA
- Lee Stempniak (RW) – Carolina Hurricanes – $2.5M
- Ville Pokka (D) – Chicago Blackhawks – $925K – RFA
- Calvin Pickard (G) – Colorado Avalanche – $1.0M
- Scott Hartnell (LW) – Columbus Blue Jackets – $4.75M
- Brett Ritchie (RW) – Dallas Stars – $875K – RFA
- Jimmy Howard (G) – Detroit Red Wings – $5.292M
- Griffin Reinhart (D) – Edmonton Oilers – $863K – RFA
- Alex Petrovic (D) – Florida Panthers – $1.05M – RFA
- Brayden McNabb (D) – Los Angeles Kings – $1.7M
- Jonas Brodin (D) – Minnesota Wild – $4.17M
- Charles Hudon (LW) – Montreal Canadiens – $625K – RFA
- Colin Wilson (C) – Nashville Predators – $3.938M
- Devante Smith-Pelley (RW) – New Jersey Devils – $1.3M
- Anders Lee (C) – New York Islanders – $3.75M
- Kevin Klein (D) – New York Rangers – $2.9M
- Matt Puempel (LW) – Ottawa Senators – $900K – RFA
- Dale Weise (RW) – Philadelphia Flyers – $2.395M
- Marc-Andre Fleury (G) – Pittsburgh Penguins – $5.75M
- Brenden Dillon (D) – San Jose Sharks – $3.27M
- Carl Gunnarsson (D) – St. Louis Blues – $2.9M
- Vladislav Namestnikov (C) – Tampa Bay Lightning – $1.938M
- Matt Martin (LW) – Toronto Maple Leafs – $2.5M
- Brendan Gaunce (C) – Vancouver Canucks – 863K – RFA
- Karl Alzner (D) – Washington Capitals – $2.8M – UFA
- Tobias Enstrom (D) – Winnipeg Jets – $5.75M
Las Vegas Projected Depth Chart
Kane – Wilson – Hartnell
Beleskey – Lee – Weise
Smith-Pelley – Namestnikov – Stempniak
Martin – Gaunce – Vey
Puempel – Hudon – Ritchie
Enstrom – Alzner
Brodin – Dillon
Despres – Gunnarsson
Petrovic – McNabb
Klein – Schenn
Pokka – Reinhart
Las Vegas Lineup Information
Las Vegas’ roster features 29 players under contract, eight of which will be restricted free agents. One player, Karl Alzner, is an unrestricted free agent. The team’s projected cap hit comes to $69.753M, leaving them a little over $3M in cap space.
The roster combined for 170 goals during 2015-16, 14 less than the 30th ranked New Jersey Devils, who totalled 184. The team certainly lacks that superstar scoring threat but is a young lineup with plenty of potential. The team’s strength, without a doubt, will come from the defensive end. There will be a plethora of solid NHL defencemen to choose from, giving Vegas a promising top-six on the back-end.
Goaltending will win Las Vegas games. With more than a few current NHL teams holding two goalies with the ability to be starters, Vegas will have a few tremendous choices for their goaltending tandem. A duo of Fleury and Howard would do wonders for the team’s immediate success. With solid goaltending and depth along the blueline, limited goals against could push Las Vegas to be a brink playoff team.
Contributor for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Prospects. Scout with the Oakville Blades of the OJHL. For questions, concerns, or comments, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @SlawsonTHW.