By Simon Banks
On June 17, the Vegas Golden Knights will finally see the selection of players that they get to pick from to join their two existing players – Reid Duke and Vadim Shipachyov. The Expansion Draft will have varying levels of impact on each team, but should – in theory – make the new Las Vegas franchise competitive quicker than any previous expansion team.
To allow teams to keep their star players and abide by contracts, the NHL laid out a comprehensive set of rules as to who each NHL team needs to protect, and who they don’t need to protect to keep on their team. The rules are explained in the video below.
So, let’s take a look at some of the goalies, defensemen and forwards who could potentially bring your Fantasy team the most value, should the Vegas Golden Knights snap them up in the Expansion Draft.
Potential Vegas Top Goalie
Surrounding the headlines right now is Marc-Andre Fleury. The star goaltender just won the Stanley Cup for the second straight time and, according to the NHL betting odds, the Pittsburgh Penguins are +750 favourites to do it again next season. Fleury holds a no-movement clause so could stay with the team that drafted him and go on to win a hat-trick of Stanley Cups – making it four in total for the veteran netminder.
However, the Penguins will want to keep young star Matt Murray from being exposed in the Expansion Draft, and it’s thought that Pittsburgh will simply buy out Fleury’s contract to allow them to hold on to Murray while letting Fleury negotiate a new deal where he sees fit.
With Fleury presumably off the market, Eddie Lack and Jimmy Howard head in as top contenders for Vegas. Lack has age and a more reasonable contract on his side, but Howard kept the Detroit Red Wings in games that they didn’t deserve to be in last season. Either would rise from back-up to potential starter if selected by Vegas and would be solid second or third choices for goalies on your Fantasy team.
Potential Vegas Top Defensemen
With offensive, high-scoring defensemen being somewhat of a commodity in the modern NHL, there’s no doubt that each team will be shielding such assets from the draft. So Vegas’ most productive defenseman may end up being someone formerly considered to be a more defense-minded blueliner.
Jack Johnson scored a fair amount of points for the Columbus Blue Jackets in their surge up the standings last season, being particularly influential during their record-tying 16-game winning streak. He’s a great puck mover and will be a factor for the Golden Knights on offense — especially in terms of anchoring the top power play unit — if selected.
Potential Vegas Top Forward
Through all of the Expansion Draft predictions and rumours this season, one name has gradually crept his way up to the top of the list while starring for a team who was already struggling with the impending Vegas haul.
Jason Zucker was exemplary this season. He played on the top line for the Minnesota Wild for much of the campaign, showing off his top-class scoring and set-up abilities. However, only one of his 22 goals and 47 points came on the power play. In Vegas, Zucker would be a key scoring asset at both even-strength and on the man-advantage, allowing him to take a major step forward as a Fantasy option.
On June 20, the Vegas Golden Knights will submit their Expansion Draft selections, and then, on June 21, the announcement of their picks shall be made. Look out for sleepers to become team stars, Fantasy players!
Now it’s your turn. Let us know in the comments below which players you’re expecting to get a boost by winding up in Vegas.