June 27, 2017

Golden Knights Ask Fans for Input on Which Blackhawks Player to Pick

20 June 2017, 04:22 | Pamela Mathis

Petr Mrazek

Petr Mrazek

"The issue for us isn't going to be can we fill out the roster".

The Toronto Maple Leafs may be in a good position to make a deal with the Golden Knights that would be beneficial to both, as GM Lou Lamoriello could give McPhee young assets in return for an experienced defenseman that could solidify the Leafs blueline, but the question is which blueliners are legitimately up for bid and which are just their to tantalize.

The last expansion draft was in 2000, when the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild entered the league. You want as many guys as possible to stay on the team next year.

"At some point, we'll be able to exhale and I'll say, 'Holy smokes, we really accomplished something neat, '" McPhee said.

"It's going to take us awhile to pick the team tomorrow", said McPhee.

Fleury was left unprotected by the Pittsburgh Penguins after he agreed to waive the no-movement clause in his contract. The Penguins instead protected Matt Murray a week after the second-year goalie led them to win their second consecutive championship.

Nashville Predators forward James Neal and Anaheim Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen also were left unprotected. They could select 27-year-old Marco Scandella as a vet for the back-end from Minnesota or choose 22-year-old Matt Dumba, a hard-shooting (and hitting) defender with upside. Surely, that wouldn't mean Rutherford electing to protect four defensemen and leaving key contributing forwards such as Carl Hagelin and Bryan Rust exposed to the expansion draft. Along with Fleury, other goalies exposed are Florida's Roberto Luongo, Detroit's Petr Mrazek and Philadelphia's Michal Neuvirth. They have one unrestricted free agent - Scottie Upshall - and three restricted free agents (Parayko, Paajarvi and Nail Yakupov).

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“Its going to take us a while to pick the team (Tuesday), because one change in this matrix affects everything — with your cap now, with your cap going forward, with the cap that you have done for this expansion draft, with the cap that you need for the regular season, ” McPhee said. But it's unlikely the two would consider joining an expansion team at this point in their respective careers.

With the league-wide release of the protected lists, teams began contacting Vegas about potential three-way trades in which the Golden Knights could select an unprotected player and deal him to a club such as the Blues.

"We've had a lot of discussions with free agents, we've had a lot of agents call", said McPhee.

And when the National Hockey League protection lists came out Sunday, the National Hockey League revealed Rutherford somewhat surprisingly used the eight skaters and one goaltender option rather than the other choice - seven forwards, three defensemen and a netminder. Remember that the rules were as follows: either protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender of the other option is to protect eight skaters (forwards or defensemen) and one goaltender.

As a result, teams interested in a particular pending UFA could ask Vegas to sign that player, then trade him to them at a later date.

George McPhee's phones have rung constantly for five days inside the Golden Knights' offices in Summerlin. Those selections will be announced Wednesday night during the NHL Awards show in Last Vegas.

One interesting avenue the team has started exploring is signing a free agent during this exclusive negotiating window. The 2017-18 salary cap is $75 million, an increase of about 2.75 percent over last season.

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