THW’s Ultimate NHL Mock Expansion Draft

Later this month, the Vegas Golden Knights will make history when the NHL’s 31st team selects their inaugural roster from the 30 other NHL teams. Those selections—made by GM George McPhee—will join Reid Duke, Vadim Shipachyov, and Tomas Hyka, who were previously signed as free agents by the Golden Knights.

To celebrate this historic event, The Hockey Writers has put together the most realistic mock expansion draft to date.

NHL Mock Expansion Draft Methodology

This mock expansion draft accounts for the multitude of possibilities that could occur when the Golden Knights make their selections later this month. Below are the details of the process.

Expansion Draft Preparation

Instead of one person projecting the protected lists for every team and selecting a player from those who were left unprotected, this mock expansion draft took a different approach: let someone who covers a team be their GM in the expansion process. THW has a talented staff of writers who know their teams very well. Now, 30 of those writers are in the GM armchair ready to take on the Vegas expansion draft, keeping in mind what their team is likely to do, rather than what they would individually prefer to do.

Following the expansion draft rules outlined by the NHL, each writer submitted their protected list along with a note of any waived no-movement clauses and requests to pick/not pick certain players. Said requests related to specific players’ cap hit, term, position, or a combination of factors.

NHL Mock Expansion Draft
George McPhee

After all of the protected lists were collected, a cumulative list breaking down the protected, unprotected, and exempt players was created using CapFriendly’s expansion tool and distributed to the acting GMs (requests to the Golden Knights were not passed along to the other teams). From there, each participant had time to negotiate mock trades to better position their team for the expansion draft or collude with the Golden Knights to pluck certain players from other teams.

And, boy, did they.

Pre-Expansion Draft Trades & Signings

In all, there were 11 trades conducted by our GMs and five signings prior to the actual selection of players:

  • Nashville trades D Mattias Ekholm to the Rangers for C J.T. Miller.
  • Montreal trades C Alex Galchenyuk to Minnesota for C Eric Staal and D Matt Dumba.
  • Montreal trades C Tomas Plekanec to Arizona for a 2017 3rd round pick (Calgary’s pick).
  • Anaheim trades D Sami Vatanen and LW Ondrej Kase to Detroit for LW Gustav Nyquist, D Ryan Sproul, and RW Tyler Bertuzzi.
  • Montreal trades D Nathan Beaulieu, LW Charles Hudon, and a 2017 3rd round pick (theirs) to Tampa Bay for C Tyler Johnson and D Braydon Coburn.
  • Toronto trades LW James Van Riemsdyk and D Jake Gardiner to Boston for C Ryan Spooner, LW Matt Beleskey, D Colin Miller, D Rob O’Gara, a 2017 6th round pick, and a 2018 2nd round pick.
  • Colorado trades C Matt Duchene, D Will Butcher, and a 2017 1st round pick (4) to Tampa Bay for LW Jonathan Drouin, D Slater Koekkoek, a 2017 1st round pick (14), a 2017 2nd round pick (Toronto’s), and a 2018 4th round pick.
  • Minnesota trades D Marco Scandella to Buffalo for C Nic Baptiste, a 2017 2nd round pick (37), and a 2017 4th round pick (99).
  • Minnesota trades LW Nino Niederreiter and LW Jason Zucker to Boston for LW James Van Riemsdyk and D Matt Grzelcyk.
  • Florida trades C Nick Bjugstad to Montreal for RW Nikita Scherbak and D Simon Bourque.
  • Washington re-signs RW Brett Connolly to a one-year deal to meet expansion draft exposure requirements.
  • Calgary re-signs G Brian Elliott to a one-year deal to meet expansion draft protection requirements.
  • San Jose re-signs RW Ryan Carpenter to a one-year deal to meet expansion draft protection requirements.
  • Washington trades RW T.J. Oshie, D Karl Alzner, and C Lars Eller to Carolina for C Victor Rask, D Noah Hanifin, D Brett Pesce, and a 3rd round pick.
  • Carolina re-signs RW T.J. Oshie and D Karl Alzner to six-year, $40-million contracts.
  • Carolina trades D Roland McKeown to Colorado for LW Julien Nantel.

With the trades completed, teams rounded out their protected lists before it was time for Vegas to make their selections.

Golden Knights Roster Composition

Unlike the many other mock expansion drafts out there, this mock draft had a different approach – the Golden Knights would not be coming away with 30 NHLers. If they can only roster 23 players, why grab 30 and risk losing seven on waivers?

RELATED: Vegas’ Actual Current Roster

Instead, Vegas will take some players who are waiver-exempt so they can be sent down without risk of being claimed. In addition, the Golden Knights also selected and flipped players to a third team for prospects or picks. Adding young players that are under control for a few years will help build the Golden Knights’ future.

Player Selection

When selecting the players who will comprise the Golden Knights’ initial roster, goaltenders were the top priority. Available netminders were ranked with present-day talent, potential, salary cap hit and term, and other quality unprotected players from their respective teams in mind. After the analysis, Vegas’ first goaltenders were selected.

Vadim Shipachyov of the Vegas Golden Knights.
Which players will join Vadim Shipachyov? (HC Vityaz

After the goalies were chosen, unprotected players from the remaining teams were assessed based on position, salary cap hit and term, waiver status, present-day talent. In addition, available players were evaluated from a holistic perspective by identifying where they stood among their team’s best unprotected players and that of other teams. For example, consider two similar players—as noted by “Player X” below—on two separate teams:

Team A Team B
Best Available Player X Player V
Second-Best Player Y Player W
Third-Best Player Z Player X

In the above example, it would make the most sense to select “Player X” from “Team A” if they were essentially equal. That way, the higher-ranked “Player V” could be selected from “Team B” as well. Collectively, these two were the best available options.

A player’s value could also mean what they’re worth if selected and flipped to another team for prospects or picks. Additionally, value could be influenced if teams offered incentives to take certain players. Why? The Golden Knights have no prospect pool.

Apart from Duke and their 2017 NHL Entry Draft picks, the Golden Knights do not have any prospects to sustain their team in the future. McPhee will likely make a multitude of moves to remedy this deficiency. Taking incentives to select certain players or swapping selections for picks and prospects are astute ways to do so. And that’s exactly what was done in this expansion draft.

Now that player value has been outlined, let’s make some picks!

Ultimate NHL Mock Expansion Draft Picks

Below are the protected lists, selected players, and reasoning for taking each player. They are listed in alphabetical order by team, not by the order in which the players were picked.

Anaheim Ducks

Acting GM: Hannah Bonnie

Protected List: Corey Perry, Ryan Getzlaf, Ryan Kesler, Rickard Rakell, Jakob Silfverberg, Andrew Cogliano, Gustav Nyquist, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, Cam Fowler, John Gibson.

Selection: Nic Kerdiles

Rationale: As the process of drafting players was winding down, there was a need to add organizational depth up front. Nic Kerdiles is young—still only 23—and is a responsible, two-way player. If he can overcome his injury past, Kerdiles could be a great long-term player for the Golden Knights.

Nic Kerdiles
Nic Kerdiles Photo Credit: (John Wright/Norfolk Admirals)

Arizona Coyotes

Acting GM: Louis Pannone

Protected List: Tobias Rieder, Alex Burmistrov, Anthony Duclair, Jordan Martinook, Alex Goligoski, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Connor Murphy, Luke Schenn, Louis Domingue.

Selection: Jamie McGinn

Rationale: The selection of Jamie McGinn was entirely done to include him in a trade to a third team. Stay tuned for the details.

Boston Bruins

Acting GM: Brandon Share-Cohen

Protected List: Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, David Pastrnak, Nino Niederreiter, Jason Zucker, Zdeno Chara, Torey Krug, Jake Gardiner, Tuukka Rask.

Selection: Joe Morrow

Rationale: Despite his struggles in Boston, Morrow still has time to develop into the player he was projected to become. He’ll get that chance in another city though, as he was also part of a deal to another team.

Buffalo Sabres

Acting GM: Ryan Wolfe

Protected List: Ryan O’Reilly, Kyle Okposo, Evander Kane, Marcus Foligno, Zemgus Girgensons, Johan Larsson, William Carrier, Rasmus Ristolainen, Marco Scandella, Jake McCabe, Robin Lehner.

Selection: Zach Bogosian

Rationale: Buffalo and Vegas completed a side deal resulting in this selection: Buffalo will receive Nick Cousins plus Joe Morrow, and send Zach Bogosian (selection), college prospect Casey Fitzgerald, and the 37th pick in the 2017 NHL entry draft. In Vegas, Bogosian will get a fresh start after two-and-a-half subpar seasons as a Sabre.

Calgary Flames

Acting GM: Joel Mann

Protected List: Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Michael Ferland, Curtis Lazar, Sam Bennett, Michael Frolik, Mikael Backlund, Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, T.J. Brodie, Brian Elliott.

Selection: Hunter Shinkaruk

Rationale: In selecting Hunter Shinkaruk, Vegas is hoping that the former 1st-round pick can return to the player he once was in junior. The 22-year-old had 35 points in 52 games with Calgary’s AHL affiliate and earned a seven-game call up with the Flames this past season.

Potential Vegas Golden Knights selection Hunter Shinkaruk.
Hunter Shinkaruk (Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports)

Carolina Hurricanes

Acting GM: Dean Plunkett

Protected List: Jordan Staal, Jeff Skinner, T.J. Oshie, Elias Lindholm, Lars Eller, Brock McGinn, Teuvo Teravainen, Justin Faulk, Ryan Murphy, Karl Alzner, Scott Darling.

Selection: Klas Dahlbeck

Rationale: Of those on Carolina’s unprotected list, Klas Dahlbeck was probably the best player. He was selected for that reason and then flipped after Winnipeg offered defensive prospect Luke Green to acquire Dahlbeck.

Chicago Blackhawks

Acting GM: Scott Kline

Protected List: Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Artem Anisimov, Richard Panik, Dennis Rasmussen, Ryan Hartman, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjallmarsson, Corey Crawford.

Selection: Marcus Kruger

Rationale: After discussing recent events with acting GM Scott Kline, likely the best and most accurate route to take was to select Marcus Kruger and receive defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk as an incentive. This potential deal between the Blackhawks and Golden Knights was reported last week.

Marcus Kruger could be joining the Vegas Golden Knights at the expansion draft.
Marcus Kruger (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Colorado Avalanche

Acting GM: Sebastian Hedley-Noble

Protected List: Nathan MacKinnon, Jonathan Drouin, Gabriel Landeskog, Sven Andrighetto, Slater Koekkoek, Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie, Nikita Zadorov, Calvin Pickard.

Selection: Carl Soderberg

Rationale: Colorado and Vegas had some serious negotiations going on throughout the expansion draft process. The final agreement was to trade McGinn and Vancouver’s Luca Sbisa to the Avalanche for prospects Nicolas Meloche and Mason Geertsen, a 2019 3rd-round pick, and then to select Carl Soderberg and his hefty contract.

Columbus Blue Jackets

Acting GM: Mark Scheig

Protected List: Nick Foligno, Brandon Dubinsky, Alex Wennberg, Cam Atkinson, Brandon Saad, Boone Jenner, Josh Anderson, Seth Jones, David Savard, Ryan Murray, Sergei Bobrovsky.

Selection: Joonas Korpisalo

Rationale: With Columbus offering a 4th-round pick to steer clear of William Karlsson, the next best choice was goaltender Joonas Korpisalo. A key factor in picking Korpisalo was his waiver status – he’ll be eligible to be assigned to the AHL without having to go through waivers first. With the Finnish goaltender starting in the minors, the Golden Knights will have a fantastic third-string goalie on the depth chart who has the potential to become a starter down the road.

Potential Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft selection Joonas Korpisalo.
Joonas Korpisalo (Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports)

Dallas Stars

Acting GM: Matt Pryor

Protected List: Jason Spezza, Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin, Cody Eakin, Radek Faksa, Brett Ritchie, Valeri Nichushkin, John Klingberg, Esa Lindell, Stephen Johns, Ben Bishop.

Selection: Antti Niemi

Rationale: Like the trade with the Avalanche, the Golden Knights and Stars negotiated a whopper. In exchange for selecting Antti Niemi, Dallas offered Vegas the 29th overall pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft and a 4th-round pick in the 2018 draft. In addition, Vegas also agreed to select Zack Kassian from Edmonton and flip him and his facial hair to Dallas.

Detroit Red Wings

Acting GM: Tony Wolak

Protected List: Henrik Zetterberg, Frans Nielsen, Tomas Tatar, Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou, Justin Abdelkader, Riley Sheahan, Danny DeKeyser, Mike Green, Sami Vatanen, Petr Mrazek.

Selection: Nick Jensen

Rationale: Vegas took the approach of having a balanced blue line. Nick Jensen checked a few boxes with his speed, right-handed shot, ability to jump into the play, and youth.

Vegas Golden Knights potential pick Nick Jensen.
Nick Jensen (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

Edmonton Oilers

Acting GM: Rob Soria

Protected List: Leon Draisaitl, Jordan Eberle, Milan Lucic, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Patrick Maroon, Jujhar Khaira, Mark Letestu, Adam Larsson, Oscar Klefbom, Andrej Sekera, Cam Talbot.

Selection: Zack Kassian

Rationale: As mentioned above, Kassian and his facial hair were requested by Dallas Stars acting GM Matt Pryor.

Florida Panthers

Acting GM: Peter Ferrell

Protected List: Alexsander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, Jonathan Marchessault, Vincent Trocheck, Aaron Ekblad, Alex Petrovic, Mark Pysyk, Keith Yandle, James Reimer.

Selection: Reilly Smith

Rationale: If Florida isn’t going to protect a 25-year-old with two 50-point seasons under his belt, the Golden Knights will surely give him a home. Smith would be a great addition to Vegas’ top-six and special teams units, plus is familiar with Golden Knights coach Gerard Gallant.

Reilly Smith would be a great add for the Vegas Golden Knights at the expansion draft.
Reilly Smith (Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports)

Los Angeles Kings

Acting GM: Joe Ochs

Protected List: Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter, Tyler Toffoli, Tanner Pearson, Drew Doughty, Alec Martinez, Jake Muzzin, Derek Forbort, Jonathan Quick.

Selection: Brayden McNabb

Rationale: Adding Brayden McNabb would be a solid choice for the Golden Knights. An even better decision would be to flip him to Nashville for prospect Emil Pettersson. Bringing in the young Swedish forward adds depth to Vegas’ prospect pipeline and NHL potential as well – Petterson produced 38 points in 51 games in Sweden’s top league last year. Meanwhile, Nashville gets a defenseman to replace the recently traded Mattias Ekholm.

Note: This trade occurred after Vegas’ selection of a Nashville player, so there was no need to protect McNabb.

Minnesota Wild

Acting GM: Larry Fisher

Protected List: Alex Galchenyuk, James van Riemsdyk, Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund, Charlie Coyle, Erik Haula, Ryan Suter, Jonas Brodin, Jared Spurgeon, Devan Dubnyk.

Selection: Gustav Olofsson

Rationale: As one of the youngest players left unprotected, Gustav Olofsson represented a smart gamble for the Golden Knights. At only 22, Olofsson still has his best years in front of him and has shown the ability to put up points at the AHL level. He’ll begin next season competing with Jensen and another young defenseman for playing time.

Montreal Canadiens

Acting GM: Nick Guido

Protected List: Max Pacioretty, Brendan Gallagher, Philip Danault, Paul Byron, Andrew Shaw, Eric Staal, Tyler Johnson, Shea Weber, Matt Dumba, Jeff Petry, Carey Price.

Selection: Alexei Emelin

Rationale: Vegas and Montreal also engaged in wild negotiations. In exchange for steering clear of recently acquired Nick Bjugstad and Jordie Benn, Montreal and Vegas settled to send Alexei Emelin (selection), Michael McCarron, and Braydon Coburn out west. Coburn was a major part of the deal – Vegas agreeing to acquire the veteran defenseman allowed Montreal and Tampa Bay to complete their pre-draft blockbuster involving Tyler Johnson and Nathan Beaulieu.

Potential Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft pick Alexei Emelin.
Alexei Emelin (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Nashville Predators

Acting GM: Shayna Goldman

Protected List: Filip Forsberg, James Neal, Ryan Johansen, Viktor Arvidsson, J.T. Miller, Pontus Aberg, Calle Jarnkrok, P.K. Subban, Roman Josi, Ryan Ellis, Pekka Rinne.

Selection: Colton Sissons

Rationale: After watching Colton Sissons take the 2017 NHL Playoffs by storm, it was an opportune move to select the unprotected pivot and plug him into Vegas’ third-line center role.

New Jersey Devils

Acting GM: Will Agathis

Protected List: Taylor Hall, Travis Zajac, Adam Henrique, Kyle Palmieri, Andy Greene, Damon Severson, Ben Lovejoy, John Moore, Cory Schneider.

Selection: Mike Cammalleri

Rationale: Vegas took Mike Cammalleri for a couple of reasons. First, he’s got a knack for scoring goals and is one year removed from a near point-per-game campaign. And second, Cammalleri only has one year remaining on his contract. If the veteran plays well for the Golden Knights, he could easily be shipped out—with half of his salary retained—at the trade deadline for a solid return. Until then, he’ll play in Vegas’ top-six.

Mike Cammalleri would be solid expansion draft pick for the Vegas Golden Knights.
Mike Cammalleri (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

New York Islanders

Acting GM: Jim Cerny

Protected List: John Tavares, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson, Andrew Ladd, Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Travis Hamonic, Ryan Pulock, Thomas Greiss.

Selection: Ryan Strome

Rationale: There were a lot of great options left available by the Islanders. Ryan Strome and his right-handed shot will fair well playing for Gallant on one of the top two forward lines. The Islanders also offered a 2017 3rd-round pick to not select Calvin de Haan, which was exercised.

New York Rangers

Acting GM: Tom Dianora

Protected List: Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, Chris Kreider, Mats Zuccarello, Oscar Lindberg, Mika Zibanejad, Kevin Hayes, Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal, Mattias Ekholm, Henrik Lundqvist.

Selection: Dan Girardi

Rationale: Prior to the expansion draft, it was determined that Dan Girardi would likely waive his no-movement clause. And with New York acquiring Mattias Ekholm in a pre-draft trade, Girardi became expendable.

In exchange for selecting the defenseman and his contract, New York offered to also send Vegas prospects Vinny Lettieri and Ryan Gropp. Both would play for the Golden Knights’ AHL affiliate next season.

Dan Girardi could be a good expansion draft selection for the Vegas Golden Knights.
Dan Girardi (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

Ottawa Senators

Acting GM: Andrew DiRienzo

Protected List: Bobby Ryan, Mike Hoffman, Derick Brassard, Mark Stone, Kyle Turris, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, Zack Smith, Erik Karlsson, Dion Phaneuf, Cody Ceci, Craig Anderson.

Selection: Fredrik Claesson

Rationale: Like many other teams, Ottawa also agreed to a side deal with Vegas: if the Golden Knights did not pick Marc Methot, they’d receive goaltending prospect Marcus Hogberg as compensation. With this deal in place, Fredrik Claesson was chosen instead. Still only 24, Claesson played well in this year’s playoffs and could be a nice pick-up for the Golden Knights’ blue line.

Philadelphia Flyers

Acting GM: Wes Herrmann

Protected List: Claude Giroux, Wayne Simmonds, Jakub Voracek, Sean Couturier, Brayden Schenn, Valtteri Filppula, Michael Raffl, Shayne Gostisbehere, Radko Gudas, Brandon Manning, Anthony Stolarz.

Selection: Nick Cousins

Rationale: For their Flyers pick, Vegas selected Cousins as part of the previously negotiated trade with Buffalo.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Acting GM: Dave Holcomb

Protected List: Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Patric Hornqvist, Kris Letang, Brian Dumoulin, Olli Maatta, Justin Schultz, Matt Murray.

Selection: Marc-Andre Fleury

Rationale: Of the starting goalies left exposed, Marc-Andre Fleury was the best option. His play in this year’s playoffs—before Matt Murray was handed starting duties—was top-notch. Fleury will be an excellent mentor for his backup and help groom that goalie for starting duties down the road.

Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury could be selected by the Vegas Golden Knights.
Marc-Andre Fleury (Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports)

San Jose Sharks

Acting GM: Zeke

Protected List: Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, Tomas Hertl, Jannik Hansen, Melker Karlsson, Chris Tierney, Ryan Carpenter, Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Brent Burns, David Schlemko, Martin Jones.

Selection: Paul Martin

Rationale: In exchange for selecting Paul Martin from San Jose, New Jersey offered Vegas a 2018 3rd-round pick and a 2019 5th-round pick to then flip the defenseman to the Devils with 50 percent of his salary retained.

St. Louis Blues

Acting GM: Nick Olson

Protected List: Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexander Steen, Jaden Schwartz, Paul Stastny, Patrik Berglund, Jori Lehtera, Vladimir Sobotka, Alex Pietrangelo, Joel Edmundson, Jay Bouwmeester, Jake Allen.

Selection: David Perron

Rationale: When St. Louis heard of Vegas’ plans to select Dmitrij Jaskin, they countered with a deal: select David Perron and also receive Adam Musil and a 2017 7th-round pick. In addition, Braydon Coburn would head to the Blues as part of the trade.

Vegas Golden Knights potential expansion draft pick David Perron.
David Perron (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Tampa Bay Lightning

Acting GM: Chad DeDominicis

Protected List: Steven Stamkos, Ryan Callahan, Nikita Kucherov, Matt Duchene, Ondrej Palat, Vladislav Namestnikov, Alex Killorn, Victor Hedman, Anton Stralman, Nathan Beaulieu, Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Selection: Cedric Paquette

Rationale: Before Vegas made a selection, Tampa Bay offered the Golden Knights a 2017 3rd-round pick to not select Andrej Sustr. Vegas complied and instead picked Cedric Paquette to muck it up on the fourth line. Paquette can contribute offensively as well – he scored 12 goals as a rookie during the 2014-15 season.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Acting GM: Jeff Langridge

Protected List: Nazem Kadri, Ryan Spooner, Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov, Connor Brown, Brendan Leipsic, Josh Leivo, Morgan Rielly, Colin Miller, Connor Carrick, Frederik Andersen.

Selection: Martin Marincin

Rationale: Like with St. Louis, Vegas wanted a certain player, but Toronto made a deal to have the Golden Knights pick someone else. In exchange for Vegas selecting Martin Marincin and not Kerby Rychel, the Maple Leafs agreed to acquire Antti Niemi and half his salary for a 2017 3rd-round pick.

After picking up Marincin, the Slovak defenseman was then flipped to Pittsburgh for prospect Nikita Pavlychev.

Martin Marincin could be selected by the Vegas Golden Knights during the expansion draft.
Martin Marincin (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Vancouver Canucks

Acting GM: Trevor Beggs

Protected List: Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Loui Eriksson, Bo Horvat, Brandon Sutter, Sven Baertschi, Markus Granlund, Erik Gudbranson, Alex Edler, Chris Tanev, Jacob Markstrom.

Selection: Luca Sbisa

Rationale: Sbisa was selected by Vegas as part of their previously negotiated deal with Colorado.

Washington Capitals

Acting GM: Sammi Silber

Protected List: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Marcus Johansson, Victor Rask, Tom Wilson, John Carlson, Dmitri Orlov, Matt Niskanen, Braden Holtby.

Selection: Philipp Grubauer

Rationale: Of all the young goalies left unprotected, Philipp Grubauer has the most promise. He also has a history with McPhee, who drafted the German netminder back in 2010. Grubauer will be Vegas’ goalie of the future, learning from Fleury in the meantime, and start as early as the 2018-19 season.

Potential expansion draft selection for the Vegas Golden Knights Philipp Grubauer.
Philipp Grubauer (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Winnipeg Jets

Acting GM: Judson Rempel

Protected List: Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, Mathieu Perreault, Dustin Byfuglien, Tobias Enstrom, Jacob Trouba, Tyler Myers, Connor Hellebuyck.

Selection: Adam Lowry

Rationale: Winnipeg’s big winger had an impressive 2016-17 season and Vegas took note. Adam Lowry checks in at six-foot-five, 210 pounds, according to his HockeyDB page. He scored 15 goals last season with the Jets – something Vegas hopes he can repeat as part of their bottom-six forward group.

Initial Golden Knights Roster

When selecting players for the Golden Knights, certain rules had to be adhered to. Below are the requirements outlined by the NHL and CapFriendly and Vegas’ compliance with them.

  • Need to draft minimum 14 forwards: Yes (14)
  • Need to draft minimum nine defensemen: Yes (12)
  • Need to draft minimum three goalies: Yes (4)
  • 20 drafted players must be under contract for 2017-18 season: Yes (23)
  • Cap hits of drafted players must be between $43.8M and $73M: Yes ($69.5M)

Now that the rules have been addressed, here is the post-expansion draft roster for the Golden Knights which factors in the trades and buyouts completed as part of the draft:

First Line Mike Cammalleri Vadim Shipachyov Reilly Smith
Second Line David Perron Carl Soderberg Ryan Strome
Third Line Adam Lowry Colton Sissons Michael McCarron
Fourth Line Nic Kerdiles Marcus Kruger Cedric Paquette
Extra Hunter Shinkaruk


First Pair Alexei Emelin Daniel Girardi Marc-Andre Fleury
Second Pair Zach Bogosian Trevor van Riemsdyk Philipp Grubauer
Third Pair Fredrik Claesson Nick Jensen
Extra Gustav Olofsson

2017-18 Projected Cap Hit (Prior to signing RFAs): $61,177,856

With this roster and cap space leftover, the Golden Knights also have the opportunity to be active in this summer’s free agent market. If the 2017-18 salary cap indeed goes up to $75 million as hypothesized, Vegas could afford to bring in two top-tier free agents if they desire.

If Vegas wants to instead give their prospects early playing time over, they will already have great organizational depth prior to the 2017 NHL Entry Draft:

Ryan Gropp Reid Duke Tomas Hyka Nicolas Meloche Joonas Korpisalo
Emil Pettersson Adam Musil Mason Geertsen Marcus Hogberg
 Nikita Pavlychev Vinny Lettieri Luke Green
Casey Fitzgerald

Final Thoughts

It’s going to be an exciting summer for the NHL. The expansion draft process will surely feature lots of fireworks throughout the league and we, as fans of the game, will have front row seats.

After all is said and done, Vegas’ actual team will look different than this one, so don’t compare the two based on matching player-for-player. Instead, compare this mock draft with the actual expansion draft based on the types of players selected and amount of trades and side deals completed.

And finally, if you didn’t like your team’s protected list, pre-expansion draft trades, or side deals, let your team’s Acting GM know. But if you enjoyed their work, give them a shout out!