Golden Knights assistant GM describes the ideal expansion draft pick

Vegas Golden Knights assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon joined Prime Time Sports to talk about the issues they will deal with when building their team through the expansion draft and free agency.

Pull up an expansion draft simulator on, pick your team and then get your friends to do the same. When you compare the teams everyone came up with, you’ll quickly realize the wide range of options the Vegas Golden Knights will be faced with when it comes time for them to officially make their team later this month.

Will the Golden Knights really take seven goalies, a scenario that’s been contemplated in some corners. Will they be a defence-first club who has to get by on a shut down (dare we say 1-3-1) system? How many trades will they make with other teams to not take a certain player in exchange for a future asset?

Will this be a team that builds through the draft first, or will Vegas use the summer to put themselves in a decent position to perhaps make a run at a playoff spot right away?

Golden Knights assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon joined Bob McCown and Damien Cox on Sportsnet 590 The FAN’s Prime Time Sports Monday to discuss what the ideal player is for the expansion squad.

“If there’s a young player that can grow up with our organization and be part of our team when we believe we can be a contending team, a playoff team…that’s an ideal pick,” McCrimmon said.

“I think when you get right down to making your selections, though, what probably will carry the day is what gives us the most value. So if that means an older player from a team that might be traded and turned into a younger player, draft picks or other prospects, then we’re going to look at it that way. If it’s a guy that does meet our needs exactly then we’ll take that player and he’ll be part of our organization as we move ahead.”

McCrimmon also noted that he expects the team to be busy talking with agents in the exclusive 72-hour window they have to negotiate with pending unrestricted free agents, and restricted free agents not protected by their teams. One thing to consider, though, is that at the NHL Scouting Combine in Buffalo this past weekend, Vegas GM George McPhee downplayed the idea the team might chase Ilya Kovalchuk or Alex Ovechkin via trade, saying he didn’t think the team needed a “face of the franchise.”

There has been some speculation of how much of a challenge it’s going to be for Vegas to reach the salary cap floor after the expansion draft and a summer of transactions. Starting with a blank slate, it’s not in the Golden Knights’ interest to take on bad contracts. Since they’ve expressed more of an interest in younger players who will be with them for the long-run, is the team at all concerned as to how it will get to the cap floor?

“That hasn’t been an issue in any of the mock drafts we’ve done with our staff,” McCrimmon said. “Every time we’ve done it we’re easily getting to the floor. I don’t think there’s going to be any real challenge that way at all in terms of having to meet that criteria of just selecting the players we feel are going to bring the most to our organization.”

In the end, McCrimmon and the Golden Knights believe Vegas will be a destination where players will want to play.

“Our experience is going to be really special,” McCrimmon said. “So are we going to win the Stanley Cup next year? That’s definitely long odds. Are we going to be an organization that guys really like playing for based on our facilities, based on the city where we’re located, based on just the opportunity to be part of an expansion franchise? I think there’s going to be a lot of interest from players in playing in Las Vegas.”

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