What Might the Vegas Golden Knights’ Inaugural Roster Look Like?


The lists are in. By Saturday at 5:00 P.M., NHL teams had to submit a list of players they wished to protect for the Expansion Draft on a format of either seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie or eight skaters (forwards + defensemen) and one goalie. In this article, NoVa Caps’ writer, Harrison Brown, takes a look at a possible roster for the Vegas Golden Knights and some of the names protected or not.

There were many surprises once the lists of both protected and unprotected players were released, with some better options for Vegas than most people may have anticipated. James Neal, Johnathan Marchessault, Marc-Andre Fleury, Troy Brouwer, and Carl Soderberg are among the standout names that Vegas can consider when making their selection.

Vegas also has a 72-hour window to negotiate with any unrestricted or restricted free agents from other clubs, which started at 10:00 A.M. ET on Sunday, and expires at 10:00 A.M. ET on Wednesday. 10:00 A.M. ET is also the deadline at which Vegas must submit their selections from every team in the NHL. There is also a league-wide trade freeze until Thursday at 8:00 A.M. unless teams are dealing with the Golden Knights.

The Expansion Draft rules require Vegas to take at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen, and three goalies. That means they have flexibility with six other picks. Vegas General Manager (and former longtime Capitals GM) George McPhee has two options – he can build the best team possible for Vegas next year or he can pick the best available player from each team and then spend the summer playing “Let’s Make a Deal” with the rest of the league. Having been a General Manager (both Assistant and Head) for well over 20 years in the NHL, McPhee knows exactly how to construct a successful team.

McPhee announced on Saturday that he is willing to make trades for draft picks and prospects. That might lead him to take the best possible player from each team and then trade them for picks or prospects, so it won’t be shocking if Vegas takes more than three goalies, for example. McPhee has already made deals with the Anaheim Ducks and Columbus Blue Jackets, so those teams can protect their young superstars.

For the full list of protected and unprotected players, click here.

Here is a possible look at what that roster may look like after Vegas makes its picks. Of course, nothing is certain, this is simply an estimate:

Anaheim: D Sami Vatanen
Arizona: D Jamie McBain
Boston: F Jimmy Hayes
Buffalo: D Cody Franson
Calgary: F Troy Brouwer
Carolina: F Lee Stempniak
Chicago: D Trevor Van Riemsdyk
Colorado: F Carl Soderberg
Columbus: F Sam Gagner
Dallas: F Cody Eakin
Detroit: G Petr Mrazek
Edmonton: D Griffin Reinhart
Florida: F Johnathan Marchessault
Los Angeles: D Brayden McNabb
Minnesota: D Matt Dumba
Montreal: F Tomas Plekanec
Nashville: F James Neal
New Jersey: F Beau Bennett
NY Islanders: F Josh Bailey
NY Rangers: G Anti Raanta
Ottawa: F Bobby Ryan
Philadelphia: F Michael Raffl
Pittsburgh: G Marc-Andre Fleury
San Jose: F Mikkel Boedker
St. Louis: F David Perron
Tampa Bay: F Cedric Paquette
Toronto: D Martin Marincin
Vancouver: D Brendan Gaunce
Washington: G Philipp Grubauer
Winnipeg: F Marko Dano

This would not be an inexpensive team. The total salary for the 30 players would be a combined $73.9 million, but the actual cap hit would be much lower because only 24 players will make the Opening Night roster.

We will see what the inaugural Vegas Golden Knights roster will look like on Wednesday night during the NHL Awards show in, ironically, Las Vegas. At that time, we’ll be able to see for ourselves what McPhee’s direction for the latest expansion NHL franchise may be.

By Harrison Brown

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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