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[article]10 Players Who Could Form Core Of Las Vegas NHL Team(SI)

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The Las Vegas No-Names will start play during the 2017-18 season, under the guidance of newly-hired GM George McPhee.

This much we know.

McPhee will hit the ground running on June 21, 2017 with the expansion draft, for which all 30 teams must submit a list of protected players list by June 17. McPhee, who was GM of the Washington Capitals for 17 years, will then turn his attention to the entry draft, slated for June 23-24, 2017.

The last time the NHL held an expansion draft was in June of 2000, for the benefit of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild. Some notable players selected that year included: G Mike Vernon (Wild), D Mathieu Schneider (Jackets), C Joe Juneau (Wild) and LW Geoff Sanderson (Jackets).

Otherwise, the remaining names weren’t all that enticing and the results showed it as both teams struggled in their first couple of seasons and missed the playoffs (the Jackets have only been to the playoffs twice overall).

A look at who might be exposed to McPhee and the Las Vegas franchise is much more palatable. Here are 10 good players (one goalie, three defencemen and six forwards) who could potentially form the core of a team that could compete right away.

10. Semyon Varlamov, G – Colorado Avalanche

McPhee will have a natural affinity for some of his ex-players in Washington, and goaltender Semyon Varlamov will be at the top of his list to scout during the 2016-17 season. Avalanche GM Joe Sakicwill have to make some interesting decisions on his protected list, and with Varlamov on the books for a $5.9 million cap hit (fourth highest on the team) until 2018-19 he could be exposed. Varlamov being unprotected will also depend on the further development of back-up Calvin Pickard, who is more cap friendly at $1 million per season until 2017-18. In Varlamov, McPhee would be getting a known commodity who will still be only 29 and has played 177 games his last three seasons. The eight-year veteran was good on a defensively suspect Avs team last season, posting a 27-25-3 record, with a 2.81 goals against average, .914 save percentage and two shutouts. Potential backup: former Washington Capitals netminder Michal Neuvirth (Philadelphia).

9. Trevor Daley, D – Pittsburgh Penguins

If McPhee is looking to build a solid squad from the net out, Pittsburgh Penguins’ veteran rearguard Daley would be a solid first pair choice. Daley’s contract runs out in 2017 (cap hit of $3.3 million) and unless the Penguins dangle him at the trade deadline this coming season, he is likely to be unprotected. He’ll be 33 in October and playing in his 13th season. He’s a productive and reliable guy who had his best offensive season with Dallas in 2014-15  at age 31 (38 points in just 68 games) and is coming off a solid year split between Big D and Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh. However, the Pens have good young defenders in Brian Dumoulin, Justin Schultz and Derrick Pouliot who all need to be re-signed in 2017, so the math suggests Daley’s departure. We’re quite sure McPhee already has his name circled. Potential first pair defender: Jack Johnson (Columbus).

8. Kevin Klein, D – New York Rangers

Like the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Rangers will have to clear house on a veteran blueliner and the most likely candidate will be Kevin Klein. Klein, 31, who has scored exactly nine goals and 17 assists in two straight seasons (65 and 69 games respectively), is a reliable defenceman going into his 12th year. Klein, who previously played with the Nashville Predators, has a cap hit of $2.9 million until the end of the 2017-18 season, so he is an inexpensive option for McPhee to consider. Career, Klein has played in 567 regular season games, scoring 35 goals and 105 assists. He has also appeared in 72 playoff games, tallying four goals and 14 assists. Potential second pair defender: Calvin de Haan (New York Islanders).

7. Dmitri Orlov, D – Washington Capitals

Brian MacLellan ought to put a lot of thought into his protected list in Washington, since the old GM will be watching the Capitals very intently for prospective expansion pickings. One of those players on the Caps roster right now is RFA defenceman Dmitri Orlov, who McPhee picked in the second round (55th overall) of the 2009 entry draft. The native of Novokuznetsk came into his own this past season, playing his first full slate of games (82), scoring eight goals and 21 assists and logging a +8. Currently, Orlov is without a long-term contract but up to this point has not filed for arbitration, which was his right as an RFA. Depending on what kind of deal he gets, Orlov will be an attractive target to McPhee, who knows him well. Potential third pair defender: Mark Pysyk (Florida Panthers).

6. Tomas Plekanec, C – Montreal Canadiens

One thing’s for certain, McPhee will be looking for depth down the middle and Montreal pivot Plekanec will probably be left exposed, what with his $6 million cap hit through 2017-18. That aside, Plekanec has been durable and about as dependable as can be in Montreal, where he missed just one game in the last three seasons and has scored 60 goals and 97 assists, with a +23 rating. Career, all with the Habs, Plekanec has 216 goals and 337 assists in 843 games since 2003-04. Of all his strengths, Plekanec is a deft passer (his 40 assists were second only to recently departed PK Subban) who makes his linemates look good and would be a great first-line addition to the Vegas squad. Potential third line center: Zemgus Girgensons (Buffalo Sabres).

5. Riley Sheahan, C – Detroit Red Wings

Red Wings’ GM Ken Holland will be in a difficult spot come next June, as he’s probably going to lose a good young foward at the expansion draft. One name that has popped up and who’ll be on the Las Vegas radar is fifth-year center Sheahan. Drafted 21st overall by the Wings in 2010, he was no doubt on McPhee’s list that year, as he was picked just ahead of Washington’s selection (Evgeny Kuznetzov, 26th overall). Sheahan hasn’t been as productive as Kuznetzov, however, he’s been a reliable third-fourth line center on a Detroit team that had him behind Pavel Datsyuk, Dylan Larkin and Brad Richards. Given the ice time and placed in a dynamic attack, Sheahan could fluorish in a second line capacity in Vegas. Potential fourth line center: Chris Tierney (San Jose Sharks).

4. Jakob Silfverberg, RW – Anaheim Ducks

If a playmaking right-handed shot is high on George McPhee’s list, the name Jakob Silfverberg should be highlighted. There is no guarantee he’ll be unprotected, but there is a chance the 25-year-old native of Gavle, Sweden will be. Silfverberg has been nothing if not consistent with the Ducks, missing just one game in the past two seasons and scoring exactly 39 points both years (13 goals in 2014-15 and 20 goals in 2015-16). He’s a plus player (+8 last season) who is responsible on both sides of the puck and an admirable playoff performer who has 23 points in the last 23 post-season games with Anaheim. He is going into year two of his four-year, $15 million deal (cap hit of $3.75 million) but does not have a no movement clause, so he could very well be left unprotected. Potential third line right wing: Dmitrij Jaskin (St. Louis Blues).

3. Dustin Brown, RW – Los Angeles Kings

He is a couple of years past his “best before” date, but McPhee could do worse than pick up a noted agitator and leader in Dustin Brown. The durable right winger would also bring oodles of playoff experience, having won two Cups with the Kings, scoring 19 goals and 27 assists in 81 post-season contests. The math suggests that Brown, who has a cap hit of $5.9 million and is under contract until 2021-22, is going to be left unprotected (he doesn’t have a no movement clause, either). So, while his production has declined, Brown is still very durable and capable of a bounce back year, in the right setting. He is entering his 13th season and to date has 218 goals and 252 assists in 884 career games. Potential fourth line right wing: Brett Ritchie (Dallas Stars).

2. Colin Wilson, LW – Nashville Predators

David Poile did very well signing former first rounder (7th overall, 2008 draft) Wilson signed to a cap friendly four-year deal prior to last season. The average cap hit is just a shade under $4 million and takes the converted centerman to the end of the 2018-19 season. Poile’s only problem is that Wilson doesn’t have a no-movement clause and he will need to protect a lot of defencemen, so some talented forwards like Wilson will be up for grabs. Of that fairly good 2008 draft class (Steven Stamkos and Drew Doughty went 1-2), Wilson has been as productive as many in that first round. In seven seasons he has played 432 games and scored 83 goals and 119 assists. He been better in the playoffs, including a breakout post-season campaign this year, scoring five goals and eight assists in 14 playoff games for the Preds (after five goals in six games during the 2015 playoffs). Potential third line left wing: Nail Yakupov (Edmonton Oilers).

1. Evander Kane, LW – Buffalo Sabres

We said it before and next year, it will most likely come true — Evander Kane will be heading to Vegas. Kane, who has been a lightning rod of controversy in two NHL stops, is still a feared scorer and force down the wing. The Sabres definitely will be furrowing a brow, then, when considering whether or not to protect Kane, who doesn’t have a no movement clause and would be scooped up in heartbeat by George McPhee. His six-year, $31.5 million deal (cap hit of $5.25 million) runs out in 2018 too. Production-wise, Kane scored 20 goals and 15 assists in 65 games with the Sabres. Since being drafted fourth overall in 2009 by the Atlanta Thrashers, Kane has 129 goals and 128 assists in 426 games. Potential fourth line left wing: Jason Zucker (Minnesota Wild).

Like everyone I'm curious to see who McPhee picks and this is a great overview of who his targets might be.

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Their core won't be obtained through the expansion draft - it will come via the entry draft or by trading picks.


The guys mentioned in the article could potentially be stop-gaps until McPhee can establish his long-term core moving forward. 

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2 hours ago, Toews said:

Why the heck would anyone claim Brown? It's the worst contract in the league excluding Clarkson. 

Despite having a lot of potential expensive contracts available to them, its is a likely scenario that Vegas will need to pick up one or even two bad cap contracts to make the floor.  LA would love it if this happened, I certainly hope he isn't picked up as it helps keep the team down.  Also with the cap going up year to year, 5 million plus contracts are going to be pretty normal by the time Brown's contact nears the end...again hope they don't pick him up..it would be like having Burrows on the books for six more years..could you imagine? Suck it LA lol

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18 hours ago, Captain Woodget said:

How does that roster work out in terms of cap?

Answered my own question. As it stands, that roster:


- Has $55,147,977 committed to 18 players

- It needs to re-sign: Dmitri Orlov, Zemgus Girgensons, plus sign either 2F+1D or 1F+2D.

- The team has just less than $17m to do that. Allowing $3m each for Orlov and Girgensons (generous), that leaves $11m to sign three players.


It's a roster with a good goalie, four second pairing D, one second line and three third lines. Vegas will have a high pick for a few drafts to come.

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17 hours ago, IBatch said:

Despite having a lot of potential expensive contracts available to them, its is a likely scenario that Vegas will need to pick up one or even two bad cap contracts to make the floor.  LA would love it if this happened, I certainly hope he isn't picked up as it helps keep the team down.  Also with the cap going up year to year, 5 million plus contracts are going to be pretty normal by the time Brown's contact nears the end...again hope they don't pick him up..it would be like having Burrows on the books for six more years..could you imagine? Suck it LA lol

Let's not forget that Gary would not be above *wink, wink, back scratch* "encouraging" Las Vegas to take on Brown's contract to help out a big market and hence "the strength of the league". 

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