The 2017 NHL Expansion Draft all-trade team

John Shannon discusses a few surprise players left unprotected for the upcoming NHL Expansion Draft, and discusses the many possible deals Vegas GM George McPhee already has in place ahead of his roster unveiling.

When the NHL released protected and available lists for the upcoming expansion draft I decided to play GM and create my own version of the Vegas Golden Knights.

Here’s the problem: It was a total waste of time.

Let’s be honest – Vegas is going to be making lots of trades in the next few days, including some they have already agreed to but they just haven’t been announced yet.

So many things could happen. Teams could make a deal with the Golden Knights to convince them not to pick a certain player on their team. Teams can also call up the Knights and tell them to claim someone they like from another team so that Vegas can flip that player to them. For example, the Maple Leafs could tell Vegas to claim Jason Demers from the Panthers and then Vegas could trade him to Toronto.

In the spirit of “anything can happen,” I drafted a Vegas team only using players who I thought had the highest or most realistic trade value. If George McPhee is looking to pick guys for the purpose of flipping them, these are the guys I think he should pick.

ANAHEIM DUCKS – JOSH MANSON
AGE: 25
CAP HIT: $825,000, RFA

Would would you rather have: Manson or Sami Vatanen? I picked Manson because I assume he’ll make less than Vatanen’s $4.875 million cap hit on his next contract. A cheaper cap hit means more return if you flip him.

ARIZONA COYOTES – ALEXANDER BURMISTROV
AGE: 25
CAP HIT: $1.55 MILLION, RFA

The Coyotes don’t have many options to choose from but Burmistrov proved he’s a decent NHL producer after being claimed off waivers from Winnipeg.

BOSTON BRUINS – COLIN MILLER
AGE: 24
CAP HIT: $1 MILLION, ONE YEAR REMAINING

After a busy summer, I expect Vegas will also be busy at the 2018 trade deadline, selling off guys they claimed who only had one year left. Miller is a good, young, cheap defender with one year remaining so he’s the perfect flip candidate.

BUFFALO SABRES – LINUS ULLMARK
AGE: 23
CAP HIT: $750,000, TWO YEARS REMAINING

Young, cheap goalie with NHL experience. Nice option for a team looking for a second/third goalie tweener.

CALGARY FLAMES – HUNTER SHINKARUK
AGE: 22
CAP HIT: $863,333, ONE YEAR REMAINING

The Flames have other guys on one-year deals but they’re older and much more expensive.

CAROLINA HURRICANES – LEE STEMPNIAK
AGE: 34
CAP HIT: $2.5 MILLION, ONE YEAR REMAINING

Lee Stempniak has been traded six times in the past nine years and three times in the past four. Teams obviously value him and he can still play. He’s the perfect trade deadline pickup, and therefore, he’s free draft picks for the Golden Knights whether they deal him right away or at next season’s trade deadline.

CHICAGO BLACKHAWKS – TREVOR van RIEMSDYK
AGE: 25
CAP HIT: $825,000, ONE YEAR REMAINING

Apparently Kruger-to-Vegas is a done deal but if that were to fall through, TVR has better trade value.

COLORADO AVALANCHE – MARK BARBERIO
AGE: 27
CAP HIT: $750,000, ONE YEAR REMAINING

Dirt cheap NHL-calibre depth defender. Nathan Beaulieu just fetched a third-rounder. You’d think Barberio could fetch you at least something. If he doesn’t, keeping him is another good option.

COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS – WILLIAM KARLSSON
AGE: 24
CAP HIT: $1 MILLION, ONE YEAR REMAINING

The same stuff I said about Mark Barberio except William Karlsson is a forward.

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DALLAS STARS – DAN HAMHUIS
AGE: 34
CAP HIT: $3.75 MILLION, ONE YEAR REMAINING

Look at the past few Cup-winners. The Penguins of the past two seasons and the 2015 Blackhawks made moves to add to their blue-line with depth defenders, usually older ones. Vegas could even retain salary on Hamhuis to increase the return.

DETROIT RED WINGS – PETR MRAZEK
AGE: 25
CAP HIT: $4 MILLION, ONE YEAR REMAINING

Exposing Petr Mrazek raised a lot of eyebrows. There are plenty of cheaper backups out there but Mrazek is a youngish 1A with starter potential. I wonder if Vegas could flip him to Buffalo if they’re down on Robin Lehner.

EDMONTON OILERS – BENOIT POULIOT
AGE: 30
CAP HIT: $4 MILLION, TWO YEARS REMAINING

He struggled last season but I think more ice time in Vegas could shine him up enough for a trade at some point.

FLORIDA PANTHERS – JASON DEMERS
AGE: 29
CAP HIT: $4.5 MILLION, FOUR YEARS REMAINING

Jason Demers is just straight up a good defender in this league. Honestly, he’s on of the better unprotected players in the NHL. Vegas should scoop him up and deal him to the highest bidder.

LA KINGS – BRAYDEN MCNABB
AGE: 26
CAP HIT: $1.7 MILLION, ONE YEAR REMAINING

Cheap. Prime years. Expiring deal. Perfect.

MINNESOTA WILD – MATT DUMBA
AGE: 22
CAP HIT: $2.55 MILLION, ONE YEAR REMAINING

Cheaper. Younger. Expiring deal, too. Also perfect.

MONTREAL CANADIENS – TOMAS PLEKANEC
AGE: 34
CAP HIT: $6 MILLION, ONE YEAR REMAINING

Overpaid but Vegas can likely afford to retain salary and deal him. The guy can still play.

NASHVILLE PREDATORS – JAMES NEAL
AGE: 29
CAP HIT: $5 MILLION, ONE YEAR REMAINING

Vegas could easily flip Neal to a team in go-for-it mode. He could also be the big get of next year’s trade deadline.

NEW JERSEY DEVILS – MIKE CAMMALLERI
AGE: 35
CAP HIT: $5 MILLION, TWO YEARS REMAINING

Another guy who is older and overpaid but can still play if Vegas just retains.

NEW YORK ISLANDERS – JOSH BAILEY
AGE: 27
CAP HIT: $3.3 MILLION, ONE YEAR REMAINING

The Islanders have lots of guys on long, expensive deals. Bailey’s is much more snack-sized and tradable.

NEW YORK RANGERS – ANTTI RAANTA
AGE: 28
CAP HIT: $1 MILLION, ONE YEAR REMAINING

Good, cheap goalie. Who doesn’t want that?

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OTTAWA SENATORS – MARC METHOT
AGE: 31
CAP HIT: $4.9 MILLION, TWO YEARS REMAINING

For tradable options it’s basically him or Mark Borowiecki.

PHILADELPHIA FLYERS – JORDAN WEAL
AGE: 25
CAP HIT: $650,000, UFA

The only guy I picked who’s a UFA. Sounds like a hot commodity. My bet is teams would want his negotiating rights.

PITTSBURGH PENGUINS – Marc-Andre Fleury
AGE: 32
CAP HIT: $5.75 MILLION, TWO YEARS REMAINING

Mike Smith going to Calgary could mean Fleury stays in Vegas. Again though – would Buffalo take him?

SAN JOSE SHARKS – JOEL WARD
AGE: 36
CAP HIT: $3.275 MILLION, ONE YEAR REMAINING

“Playoff Joel Ward” is still a thing. Wonder if playoff-bound teams would have interest.

ST. LOUIS BLUES – DAVID PERRON
AGE: 29
CAP HIT: $3.75 MILLION, ONE YEAR REMAINING

Seasoned vet on expiring deal. Also – they protected Ryan Reaves?!

TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING – JAKE DOTCHIN
AGE: 23
CAP HIT: $616,667, RFA

Great, young player ready to break out just falling victim to the numbers game in Tampa.

TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS – MARTIN MARINCIN
AGE: 25
CAP HIT: $1.25 MILLION, ONE YEAR REMAINING

Cheap, youngish depth guy on expiring deal.

VANCOUVER CANUCKS – BRENDAN GAUNCE
AGE: 23
CAP HIT: $863,333, RFA

“Former first-rounder” usually brings teams flocking.

WASHINGTON CAPITALS – NATE SCHMIDT
AGE: 25
CAP HIT: $925,000, RFA

Youngish defender ready to really break out. Lots of teams willing to give a guy like that a shot.

WINNIPEG JETS – MARKO DANO
AGE: 22
CAP HIT: $850,000, ONE YEAR REMAINING

How many times can you get traded before you turn 23? Let’s find out!