Vegas Owner Reveals Expansion Draft Strategy

Love mock drafts? The Vegas Golden Knights should be your new favorite team.

As the season progresses, fans of the Golden Knights and other NHL franchises are treated to the opportunity to discuss who will be protected by their current club and who will be relocating to southern Nevada. Some, like the Chicago Blackhawks, have most of the guesswork taken care of courtesy of an abundance of no-movement contract clauses. Others, like the Anaheim Ducks, will almost certainly lose a quality player unless a move is made at the trade deadline. Predictions as to what will happen change daily, and for fans, it’s endlessly debatable.

Vegas Won’t Rely on Analytics

On Monday, Golden Knights owner Bill Foley joined Brian Blessing on the Vegas Hockey Hotline to pull back the curtain and reveal some details of the evaluation system his team is utilizing to ready themselves for the offseason’s expansion draft.

(Joshua Dahl-USA TODAY Sports)

“We also have six different criteria that we measure all the guys on. There’s actually ten criteria but there are six primary criteria that we measure one through nine, and they’re all rated. The ratings are basically updated daily as people are watching guys play.”

“The grade is put in and it’s actually updated daily as they watch the games and they’re ranked one through nine, one being the weakest nine being the best, and the best guys are six, seven, eight, nine all the way through, all these different categories.”

Fans of analytics should take note, Foley and his team will not be solely relying on advanced statistics, and view the more contemporary method of evaluation as a compliment to the work being done by Golden Knights scouts.

“Analytics is not going to drive how we draft. Analytics are going to supplement what the scouts are seeing. We’re going to rely on the scouts and what they recommend.”

Golden Knights Scouts Using “Medal” System

Foley explains that the Vegas team is taking into consideration whether or not a particular player is expected to be made available during the expansion draft. Once that assessment has been added to the work done by scouts, three players from each team are ranked.

George McPhee, General Manager of Vegas Golden Knights

“The next steps are the mock drafts. Is the team going to protect four and four? Or are they going to go seven forwards, three Ds, and a goalie? That’s what our scouts are determining. Some teams are pretty clear they’re going to be four-four, That means they’ve got to leave a pretty good forward unprotected. Other teams are going to be 7-3-1, so that means there may be a pretty good D.”

“Those guys are picked out, we run through all the players that we believe would be available in these mock drafts. Finally after a big discussion, roundtable, with 20 guys in the room, not all are participating, I usually don’t participate, it’s not my knowledge base, so I’m listening and learning. We then pick a guy from that particular team, he’s going to be our first pick. We have a gold player, a silver player, and a bronze player. We have three players from each team.”

For better or worse, this system has had an impact on Foley. He conceded that his opinion on some players has changed considerably since the evaluation process has begun.

“I will say the players I thought that would be top of the list last September after these three, two and a half day mock draft sessions, I would say my view has changed a lot. A lot on the types of players we’re going to be going after and what we’re going to be looking for.”