Vegas Golden Knights hold cards as NHL expansion draft nears

New Jersey Devils GM Ray Shero

Once he knows what trades he's making, the Golden Knights staff will really dig down on every expansion decision.

With the ability to pick one unprotected player from each of the league's other 30 teams, not to mention force anxious general managers into pre- and post-draft bargaining, Vegas truly has a favorable path to existence in the NHL. "All the GMs have looked at the list, and they see players on the other teams and have asked us what it would take for you to claim that player for us".

George McPhee has said as much to his fellow general managers, informing them that Monday was the final day for discussions regarding trades and free agents. The Regina native has a bomb of a shot, throws a nasty open-ice hit and looks to be ready for more opportunity after soaking up 20 minutes per-game for the Wild a year ago. Any pending free agent signed would count as Vegas' expansion-draft selection from that player's team. "This means that before the Golden Knights claim a player off a team's unprotected list, McPhee and his staff are willing to negotiate deals so the other clubs do not lose a player they would otherwise like to keep".

Fleury was left unprotected by Pittsburgh after he agreed to waive the no-movement clause in his contract. The Golden Knights are going to end up with a bevy of draft picks, and the Thrashers provide a rough timeline for when that might show results.

McPhee nearly seems like a shark smelling blood. McPhee said Sunday. "It certainly changed today; it's a different phase". "We thought that when that happened, he'd be an outstanding goaltender".

ROLLING THE DICE: Maybe Vegas wants to groom its starter of the future, in which case Grubauer, Boston's Malcolm Subban, Detroit's Jared Coreau or Toronto's Antoine Bibeau could fit the bill. But those kind of characteristics also make for a potential blockbuster deal if the right team calls with the right offer. Arizona and Philadelphia are in need of starters. There are rumors that agreements might be in place to help Anaheim keep young defensemen Sami Vatanen and Josh Manson or Columbus keep young power forward Josh Anderson. A roster freeze went into effect June 17, with clubs only allowed to talk trade with the Golden Knights.

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His appeal: He's six foot three and 215 pounds, mobile for someone that size, and a punishing force physically. This year's crop of free agents is short on big-name talent.

"It's a very interesting situation", Shattenkirk said. McPhee is listening to his options and things could get insane over the next week as the Golden Knights seek to build an unrivalled stable of picks and prospects with an eye toward the future.

DON'T SLEEP ON: The Golden Knights will be young, but San Jose's David Schlemko (30) and Paul Martin (36) and New Jersey's Ben Lovejoy (33) are veteran options.

Neal is a nine-time 20-goal scorer.

The Thrashers bombed with only 39 points in their first season - last in the league in goals and goals against. One-time prospects Marko Dano from Winnipeg, Mikhail Grigorenko from Colorado and Nail Yakupov from St. Louis might benefit from bigger opportunities under coach Gerard Gallant.

The Golden Knights must select at least three goalies in the draft but could select more. There was speculation that Killorn, who also had a less-than-stellar season, would've been a target for Vegas to select, but that's no longer a possibility because he's on the protected list.