Friday, June 23, 2017

Fielding a Team

The Expansion Draft has come and gone, and now, each of the 31 teams will be ready to go on the ice. The Vegas Golden Knights spent close to the cap, with just $0.9 million left over after the draft and various trades. With that, let's look at each of the players taken from the existing 30 teams plus trades.

Clayton Stoner-Taken from Anaheim, the Golden Knights were enticed to take him when the Ducks agreed to also trade Shea Theodore to them. Theodore is more likely to make an impact than Stoner, whose contract comes off the books after next season.

Teemu Pulkkinen-AHL goal scorer who is on the clock to find his game in the NHL or be doomed to career AHL'er. The Golden Knights will be his fourth NHL team, after Detroit, Minnesota, and Arizona couldn't get much out of him.

Colin Miller-The Bruins needed to make room for Charlie McAvoy, and Miller's departure will do just that. As for the Golden Knights, a third line role appears likely, though if he can get his PPG closer to his rookie year, a second pairing role could be in his future.

William Carrier-Buffalo traded a draft pick to the Golden Knights as a likely guard against them taking Linus Ullmark. Carrier will be on his third NHL team, but will likely be given a bigger role.

Deryk Engelland-He was entering free agency, but the Golden Knights convinced him to sign a new deal, enabling them to bring him home. Adds grit and not much else.

Connor Brickley-The Hurricanes traded a fifth-round pick to entice the Golden Knights into picking Brickley, and they may not be done dealing.

Trevor Van Riemsdyk- Solid defensive option taken from Chicago, he too, could be on the move if the Golden Knights decide he isn't an answer on the blue line. He's on the move, as Carolina traded to get him.

Calvin Pickard-Every team needs a backup goalie, and Pickard will fit that description (more on who he's backing up). He wasn't ready for a full-time starting gig, but the Golden Knights will be a better team up front than his former home in Colorado.

William Karlsson-The Blue Jackets threw in their first round pick to ensure that the Golden Knights would take him. Karlsson figures to challenge for a spot on the second line, as...

Cody Eakin-Barring anything out of the blue, Eakin enters the season as the Golden Knights' first line center. A very good second liner, this is his chance to shine with a bigger role now that he isn't behind Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza.

Tomas Nosek-Likely headed for the AHL, Nosek couldn't crack a rather thin Detroit lineup.

Griffin Reinhart-Reinhart has yet to fulfill his potential, and now that the Golden Knights are his third team since being drafted in 2012, he is on the clock to prove that he is not a bust.

Jon Marchessault-A 30-goal scorer, the Panthers threw in Reilly Smith to ensure that the Panthers would not lose either Roberto Luongo or Jason Demers.

Brayden McNabb-The Kings didn't lose when McNabb was taken, but given that they're still saddled with the contracts of Dustin Brown and Marian Gaborik, they were hoping for a lot more, especially since they're officially in salary cap hell.

Erik Haula-The Wild threw in Alex Tuch and an assurance from the Golden Knights that Haula would be signed to a new deal if they took him. At worst, he's a solid fourth line player.

Alexei Emelin-Physical presence, was likely picked as part of a later trade, which will be discussed then.

James Neal-Nashville didn't want to lose him, but given their lack of center depth plus Neal agreeing to waive his NMC, it had to happen. Vegas gets a player good for 30 goals, but also with just one year left on his contract.

Jon Merrill-Second pairing defender duty is likely awaiting Merrill, who may very well be paired with a defensively responsible player that the Golden Knights picked up, which will be mentioned later.

JF Berube-Most likely headed to the AHL, he was picked because the Islanders threw in Mikhail Grabovski and a first round pick this year.

Oscar Lindberg-Solid center who will likely see third-line duty and possibly more if he outplays William Karlsson.

Marc Methot-Defensively responsible, his likely defense partner could be Jon Merrill.

Pierre-Edouard Bellemare-Likely AHL bound, he can fill in on an NHL roster if injuries impact the team, and he provides grit and leadership in the locker room.

Marc-Andre Fleury-The face of the franchise, he needed a fresh start now that Matt Murray is firmly entrenched as the Penguins' starter. Still, Fleury has a few good years left and can be a sure thing on what is most likely few sure things on the Golden Knights.

David Schlemko-The likely condition of the Golden Knights taking Emelin, Schlemko is headed to Montreal.

David Perron-Offensively gifted, but consistency forever remained an issue in his NHL career thus far.

Jason Garrison-Considerable money freed up for the Lightning, they also threw in negotiating rights to Nikita Gusev, and given that the Golden Knights not only have a solid top pairing guy, but also a lure for Gusev in his former SKA teammate Vadim Shipachyov, they made out pretty well here.

Brendan Leipsic-The forgotten man in the Maple Leafs' youth movement, he gets a fresh start, but is now on his third team. Expect him to challenge for a spot on the NHL roster.

Luca Sbisa-Possible that he could be paired with Jason Garrison, but also possible he plays third pairing minutes, too. Much maligned in Vancouver, he's far better in his own end.

Nate Schmidt-Defender with promise, he will see more time in the NHL, as he isn't behind the likes of John Carlson and Karl Alzner.

Chris Thorburn-Fourth line duty awaits this physical presence. The Golden Knights also acquired the Jets' first round pick this year and gave up the first round pick originally owned by Columbus in return.

The Golden Knights now own the 6th, 13th, and 15th overall picks in this year's draft. The question is whether they decide to move two of the three or all three in an effort to get either the first or second overall pick.

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