The expansion draft has been on the hockey world’s mind for almost a year now. With the chance that each team would lose at least one player, there was hysteria for some and rejoice from others. The list of players that was announced last weekend available for the Vegas Golden Knights to draft was full of quality players that would make any expansion team great. The Golden Knights had luck on their side, with many teams not wanting to let go of some of their key players they had to expose. This in turn allowed the Golden Knights to not just acquire players, but also draft picks for the upcoming draft and several years to come.
There was a huge amount of buzz surrounding the players that seemed to be an obvious choice for the team. One of the most talked about picks for the Golden Knights was the recent Stanley Cup Champion, Marc-Andre Fleury. His success with the Pittsburgh Penguins over 14 seasons led him to be an obvious choice for a new team. It came as no surprise when he was the final pick for the Golden Knights in the Expansion Draft. Fleury has played in nearly 700 NHL games over the course of his career and his veteran net presence is expected to be a huge asset for a team just starting out. With the addition of Calvin Pickard from the Colorado Avalanche and Jean-Francois Berube from the New York Islanders, they already have a great set of goaltenders to start out the season.
Fleury walked on to the stage at the Expansion Draft and into the media room with the same bright smile. It never left his face and the excitement for him was obviously there. Though the adjustment might be big, there’s still a chance for him to be the face of the franchise. He doesn’t necessarily see himself as the “face of anything”, but that’s truly what he’s going to become.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity. I’ll wear it [the jersey] with pride,” said Fleury.
Some other notable picks for the Golden Knights is the Nashville Predators James Neal. Neal has experience playing with Fleury in his four seasons with the Penguins. This chemistry is just one of the examples of why the team could mesh easier than many may think. James Neal had a huge impact on the ice during the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the Final against his former team. In 22 games, he recorded 6 goals and 3 assists but his presence was always noticed. Neal is a fairly consistent player averaging at least 20 goals a season and will be a huge player for the new team.
The players mentioned before are only a few of the many great assets that the Golden Knights added to their roster. Though I would expect that there might be some potential trades to happen at or before the draft. The team picked 15 defenseman and it’s likely they will not keep them all.
Below is a list of all of the players acquired as well as the draft picks that they will receive.
ROSTER BY POSITION
Trevor van Riemsdyk
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS DRAFT PICKS ACQUIRED THROUGH THE EXPANSION DRAFT
Five in 2017
One in 2018
Three in 2019
One in 2020
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS DRAFT PICKS TRADED DURING EXPANSION DRAFT
Conditional third round pick for either 2017 or 2018 to MIN
Fourth round pick in 2018 to FLA