Best NHL expansion team ever?: Vegas might have the cards

Vegas majority owner Bill Foley and general manager George Mc Phee look over their expansion draft roster

Best NHL expansion team ever?: Vegas might have the cards

The NHL stage belongs to Ray Shero and the New Jersey Devils. The real pity is that Senators general manager Pierre Dorion wasn't able to find a way to swing a deal with McPhee that would have kept him away from Methot, nor was he able to trade Phaneuf in the week leading up to the expansion draft.

The NHL wrote its draft rules to give the Golden Knights more opportunities to compete early in their existence, and their expansion draft choices certainly appear to form a solid core that could make noise in the Pacific Division. This week, they'll finally have one player apiece from the other 30 clubs, putting recognizable faces on the franchise for the first time. "When you've got one pick in the first round, you've got one guy, and how do we get him?"

Meanwhile, just a third of fourth-round picks ever reach the National Hockey League, and when they do they average 11 goals and 26 points per 82 games, inferior production to what Marchessault and Smith provided in 2016-17. But the main order of business will come on Friday, when Vegas, which has three first-round selections, picks what could be a future franchise player. Vegas shipped defenceman Trevor van Riemsdyk and a seventh-round pick next year to Carolina for Pittsburgh's second-round pick this year, and then traded David Schlemko to Montreal for a fifth-round pick in 2019. He beat out San Jose Sharks defenseman Brent Burns and Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby.

The Vegas Golden Knights announced their full roster during the NHL Awards in Las Vegas on Wednesday night. Matt Murray was a stud in the second half of the playoffs, but the Pens never would've escaped the first two rounds without 'Flower'. Foley has said that Vegas hopes to be in the playoffs by its third season and head coach Gerard Gallant told Postmedia News this week that a Stanley Cup appearance is the goal for 2023 or 2024. They now have 13 draft picks for the upcoming draft, including three in the first and three in the second. When you've got three, it's harder. "But it's a good problem to have".

As it looked on Wednesday night, the Golden Knights roster isn't necessarily unwatchable: James Neal, for instance, surpassed 30 goals as recently as two seasons ago, and Jonathan Marchessault hit 30 this past season.

"At the end of the day I don't care if I go one, two, three, four, like it doesn't matter to me", said Patrick, who threw out a ceremonial first pitch before Wednesday's Cubs game at Wrigley Field. "Obviously I'm really excited to get this started. So it doesn't matter to me". Unlike past years (Connor McDavid, Aaron Ekblad, Auston Matthews) there is no consensus "best player in the draft" this year. All these factors together lead to a forward group that doesn't create many scoring chances for each other, with most of the chances they do get coming off of mistakes by their opponents more than their own set ups.

"I didn't really see that as a hockey place when I went there, but now, with the new team and the fans and season tickets sold out, I think hockey will be unbelievable", Glass said.

When it comes to generating offence from the back end, the Golden Knights look to be among the bottom five teams in the league, and the strengths they had in their forward group max out as just average on defence, meaning the group as now constructed doesn't really have a strength at all.

According to Boston forward Patrice Bergeron who is now in Vegas to attend the event, there are great talks going on about the award but expansion draft is getting more attention.

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