2017 NHL Expansion Draft – Assessment of the Picks and Trades

Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The Vegas Golden Knights, officially, have a roster. In the words of Vegas General Manager George McPhee, “We’re real”. There was a mixture of surprising and unsurprising choices with a good amount of jaw dropping surprises added in as well. 

It is a roster that, for now, includes 14 Forwards, 13 Defensemen, and 3 Goaltenders. The team certainly appears to be one that was chosen for success in a few years, rather than for the short-term as many good players went unselected. It was also a night that featured the announcements of many trades that teams made to protect their assets that were left unprotected. For Capitals fans, the choice of Nate Schmidt is going to be of utmost importance and sadness.

Below are each of the selections the Vegas Golden Knights made:

Anaheim Ducks – D Clayton Stoner
Arizona Coyotes – F Teemu Pulkkinen
Boston Bruins – D Colin Miller
Buffalo Sabres – F William Carrier
Calgary Flames – D Deryk Engelland (signed)
Carolina Hurricanes – F Connor Brickley
Chicago Blackhawks – D Trevor van Riemsdyk
Colorado Avalanche – G Calvin Pickard
Columbus Blue Jackets – F William Karlsson
Dallas Stars – F Cody Eakin
Detroit Red Wings – F Tomas Nosek
Edmonton Oilers – D Griffin Reinhart
Florida Panthers – F Jonathan Marchessault
Los Angeles Kings – D Brayden McNabb
Minnesota Wild – F Erik Haula
Montreal Canadiens – D Alexei Emelin
Nashville Predators – F James Neal
New Jersey Devils – D Jon Merrill
New York Islanders – G J.F. Berube
New York Rangers – F Oscar Lindberg
Ottawa Senators – D Marc Methot
Philadelphia Flyers – F Pierre-Edouard Bellemare
Pittsburgh Penguins – G Marc-Andre Fleury
St. Louis Blues – F David Perron
San Jose Sharks – D David Schlemko
Tampa Bay Lighting – D Jason Garrison
Toronto Maple Leafs – F Brendan Leipsic
Vancouver Canucks – D Luca Sbisa
Washington Capitals – D Nate Schmidt
Winnipeg Jets – F Chris Thorburn

In addition to the players selected, below are trades that were also announced:

Buffalo Sabres – Trades Vegas a 2017 6th Round Draft Pick

Florida Panthers – Trades Vegas Reilly Smith for a 2018 4th Round Pick

Carolina Hurricanes – Trades Vegas a 2017 5th Round Draft Pick

Tampa Bay Lightning – Trades Vegas Nikita Gusev, 2017 2nd Round Pick, 2018 4th Round Pick

New York Islanders – Trades Vegas Mikhail Grabovski, Jake Bischoff, 2017 1st Round Pick, 2019 2nd Round Pick

Anaheim Ducks – Trades Vegas Shea Theodore

Minnesota Wild – Trades Vegas Alex Tuch for a conditional 3rd Round Pick in 2017 or 2018 from Vegas

Columbus Blue Jackets – Trades Vegas David Clarkson, 2017 1st Round Pick, 2019 2nd Round Pick

Winnipeg Jets – Trades Vegas a 2017 1st Round Pick, 2019 3rd Round Pick for the 2017 1st Round Pick Columbus traded to Vegas

Pittsburgh Penguins – Trades Vegas a 2020 2nd Round Pick

The biggest surprises are the package the New York Islanders sent to the Golden Knights and the players exposed and traded by the Florida Panthers. According to multiple insiders, Grabovski will not play next season and will be put on Long Term IR for the extent of next season. His contract expires at the end of next year, so the Islanders are paying Vegas to take on this contract, not select any more of their forwards, and to take their third string goaltender, that’s… a steep price. However, for a team rumored to be very aggressive in the trade market for a winger to play next to John Tavares, this may be necessary in freeing up salary space to acquire Jordan Eberle, Alex Galchenyuk, or Matt Duchene. As for the Panthers, Bob McKenzie is reporting that exposing Marchessault and trading Smith to Vegas is due in part to financial reasons, as well as protecting their new crop of defensemen, including Keith Yandle and Jason Demers, who were signed just last off-season.

A few trades of note are the deals Anaheim, Columbus, and Winnipeg made with Vegas. Anaheim is sending highly touted D prospect Shea Theodore to Vegas so that they would take Clayton Stoner. This means that Vegas avoided taking Sami Vatanen and Josh Manson, who were both eligible to be taken by Vegas, and both are young, valuable pieces. Winnipeg traded their 13th Overall Draft Pick and a 2019 3rd Round Draft Pick to Vegas for Columbus’ 24th Overall Draft Pick they traded to Vegas. Winnipeg is trading down in the 1st Round, and giving Vegas a future 3rd Rounder, so that Vegas avoided taking Tobias Enstrom.

As for the players chosen themselves, the biggest story is that Vegas has selected only three goaltenders and chose not to select Antti Raanta, Petr Mrazek, Philipp Grubauer, Michal Neuvirth, or Linus Ullmark. The goaltenders they did select are fine, but for a team building for the future, each of Raanta, Mrazek, Grubauer, and Ullmark arguable made more sense to take than all three of the goalies they did end up taking. It will be interesting to see what Vegas’ vision is for the future in net, as Pickard and Berube are both 25, but do not have the pedigree that many believe the other available goalies have. Fleury is 32, and could have many years ahead of him, so this may be a moot point, but with the ability to build for the future, it is quite odd what Vegas decided to go with.

At the end of the day, the Capitals lost fan favorite Nate Schmidt and 29 other teams lost players of varying importance. It is a blow to the Capitals organization and it will be interesting to see where they go from here. There is a lot of speculation that many of the players listed above will no longer be with Vegas by the end of the day on Friday as there are many trades to be made. Vegas needs to get their roster down to 23 players by the beginning of the 2017-18 season, and that will begin as soon as tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM when the NHL mandated trade freeze is lifted. Will the Capitals replace Nate Schmidt right away? Are the Capitals involved in any trades with Vegas or other teams? Will Nate Schmidt be traded to another team? We will find out soon.

By Tyler Anderson

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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3 Responses to 2017 NHL Expansion Draft – Assessment of the Picks and Trades

  1. Patrick says:

    I think a big part of the goalie decision came down to the fact that Colorado really had nobody else worth taking besides Pickard. Each of the other goalies you mentioned came from teams with other assets, so it makes sense to take a marginally weaker backup goalie and free yourself up to take a much better skater from elsewhere in the process, especially if they’re counting on getting several seasons out of Fleury.

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