The Vegas Golden Knights have said they want to build around youth, so they’re using the upcoming expansion draft as a chance to load up on draft picks. The team already has trades in place with the Ducks, Blue Jackets, Islanders, and Blackhawks as part of that effort, according to TSN’s Frank Seravalli.
The moves should add to the draft pick and prospect stockpile for the Golden Knights, who already have the No. 6 overall pick in this year’s entry draft.
For the Ducks, Blue Jackets, and Islanders, the reported trades are about keeping key players. Anaheim wants to keep defensemen Sami Vatanen and Josh Manson, Columbus wants to keep goalie Joonas Korpisalo, forward Josh Anderson, and defenseman Jack Johnson, and New York wants to keep forwards Josh Bailey and Casey Cizikas. All of these players are unprotected for the expansion draft.
As a result, the Golden Knights are demanding draft picks from those teams in order to be steered to selecting other players.
The Blue Jackets are reportedly including the 24th overall pick in this year’s entry draft in their deal, per both TSN and Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch. It’s a high price to pay, which shows the kind of leverage that the Golden Knights are wielding over talks right now. If you really want to keep a good, unprotected player, it’ll cost you.
As for the Islanders, there seems to be some uncertainty over who exactly they want to keep away from Vegas. TSN says Bailey and Cizikas, but as Lighthouse Hockey notes, Isles beat writer Arthur Staple said earlier Sunday that the trade would be to keep Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome, and Calvin De Haan. We’ll have to see just which player New York is steering the Golden Knights to take.
The Blackhawks’ reported deal with the Golden Knights sounds a bit different. Chicago wants to dump Marcus Kruger and his $3.08 million cap hit on Vegas, which could otherwise just take defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk in the expansion draft.
So the Hawks are getting the Knights to take Kruger and van Riemsdyk in a package deal, although it’s unclear what Vegas is getting out of this to not just take van Riemsdyk. Presumably, it’s another pick or prospect.
The expansion draft results will be announced Wednesday night at the NHL Awards show. Golden Knights GM George McPhee sounds excited about the situation, and you can see why given all the picks he’s going to accumulate for this young franchise.
“We really like what we’re looking at right now,” McPhee said Sunday, per TSN. “We were expecting this mass redistribution of players that really didn’t happen, which we were really happy about.
“What it does is, some of the things we were worried about with no-move clauses and that sort of thing didn’t happen and I think the harvest of assets that we are going to have now will be what we were hoping for. This has worked out very well for the Vegas Golden Knights and we expect to put a good, entertaining club on the ice.”
Building through the draft is the best way to create sustainable success, and McPhee seems committed to that in Vegas. It’s a good sign that the Golden Knights, even if they don’t end up picking a bunch of great players, will at least end up with a stockpile of draft picks that’ll hopefully turn into great players.