Vegas Golden Knights Focus on Defense in N.H.L. Expansion Draft

“I’m very grateful for this opportunity to be in Vegas with a new team, a new organization,” said Fleury, who was greeted on stage at T-Mobile Arena by a standing ovation 14 years to the day after he was drafted No. 1 by Pittsburgh in the entry draft. “Just the crowd tonight and the way the team is looking, I like it. I’ve been fortunate to play on good teams, great organization and had a lot of great teammates that taught me.”

Fleury, 32, waived his no-trade clause so the Penguins could protect 23-year-old Matt Murray, who had replaced him as Pittsburgh’s starter.

The Golden Knights chose one player from each of the 30 other N.H.L. teams and were required to select at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders.

With each N.H.L. team allowed to protect only one goalie, the Golden Knights had a deep group of netminders from which to choose. They also selected Calvin Pickard of the Colorado Avalanche and Jean-Francois Berube of the Islanders.

The night’s unveiling included some trades, most notably a deal with the Florida Panthers that brought wing Reilly Smith in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick. Smith joins his Panthers teammate Jonathan Marchessault, who was selected in the expansion draft after having a breakout 30-goal season. Vegas also acquired one young Anaheim defenseman, Shea Theodore, in a trade in which they agreed to select the veteran defenders Clayton Stoner in the expansion draft instead of the younger and more coveted Sami Vatanen.

With a number of trades expected to be announced Thursday morning, Vegas General Manager George McPhee was busy accumulating draft picks, too. By the end of Wednesday’s ceremony, the Golden Knights owned three of the top 15 picks in the entry draft, which begins Friday in Chicago.

McPhee orchestrated several side deals with teams who were seeking to steer the Golden Knights to specific players in the expansion draft. The Islanders left…

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