George McPhee can’t wait to fill up the white board, the one in the Vegas Golden Knights’ expansion draft room. On Wednesday night, the staff will start adding the names of players who will become part of the expansion team for its first NHL season.
“We’re going to put our team together and we’ll watch it come to life in front of us,” McPhee said.
What will that team look like when it takes the ice in early October? It won’t have all the top-end talent available because side deals will allow Vegas to stockpile draft picks and prospects for the future, but it will probably be the most competitive expansion team in the league’s history.
“I’m really pleased with what’s available,” McPhee told reporters in Las Vegas on Sunday. “This has worked out very well for the Vegas Golden Knights, and we expect to put a good, entertaining club on the ice.”
Here’s a projection of who the inaugural Golden Knights might snap up by Wednesday night:
GOALTENDERS (MINIMUM 3)
SURE BET: Three-time Stanley Cup champion Marc-Andre Fleury seems like the most reliable pick on the board, a recognizable face of the franchise who can easily start 50-60 games and give the Golden Knights chances to win. Fleury waived his no-movement clause so the Pittsburgh Penguins didn’t have to force another trade, and the 32-year-old can go back to being a clear No. 1 goalie.
WORTH THE GAMBLE: Fleury could be joined by an established 20-something backup, like Philadelphia’s Michal Neuvirth, Detroit’s Petr Mrazek, Colorado’s Calvin Pickard or New York’s Antti Raanta.
McPhee and Vegas goaltending coach Dave Prior have connections to Neuvirth and Grubauer from drafting them with the Capitals. McPhee described Neuvirth…