Fleury leads Vegas Golden Knights' expansion draft choices

Beth Cruz
June 25, 2017

It was all about the forwards at the top of the National Hockey League draft.

But that didn't mean it was a quiet weekend.

Rounding out the first nine picks was defenseman Brayden McNabb, who was voted the top newcomer for the Los Angeles Kings after scoring 51 points this past season. I don't know where I'll be in six years.

Assuming the Avalanche stay put at No. 32, a goaltender could be in play after the Vegas Golden Knights poached Calvin Pickard in Wednesday's expansion draft. So could some of the draft picks the Golden Knights did an incredible job harvesting.

Jokiharju, 6-0, 170 pounds from Tampre, Finland, was the sixth Finnish player drafted during Friday's first round. When you've got three, it's harder. "They got great value there". I write about hockey. Even if Patrick was drafted previous year he would have been nowhere near a top 15 pick so he lucked out here.

No wonder a rival GM said "I feel like I was just held hostage for the last two weeks".

They should have just taken the other players. It was a Check.

The former Stanley Cup-winning defenceman with the New York Islanders, 54, was hired by the B-Sens Wednesday and brings not only a vast vault of hockey knowledge to Belleville but also an impressive academic resume. One can imagine McPhee slipping into his best "Sopranos" impression during negotiations: "Boy, it'd be a real shame if something were to happen to Brock Nelson". "That was a warm welcome, and I'm getting excited about it".

The New Jersey Devils grabbed Nico Hischier, and the Philadelphia Flyers felt quite comfortable with Nolan Patrick.

"I considered everybody", he said. "I wish I had two picks, because we need a forward and a defenceman".


First-round picks always come with larger-than-life expectations. Jim Rutherford, Mike Sullivan, and Sidney Crosby all went home without any new trophies for their collection.

You'd expect that from owner Bill Foley, who called it a "great team", and from head coach Gerard Gallant, who called it "a pretty impressive group". Any team that picks him after the third round is getting him as a steal. "We're not going to fast-track anyone". But that still didn't prevent teams from having cold feet when it came to drafting Russians. Winterhawks eligible to be drafted include defenseman Brendan De Jong, center Ryan Hughes and winger Skyler McKenzie who were rated by in the final 2017 NHL Central Scouting rankings. More went in the later rounds, which sort of makes sense.

More moves are coming.

He's been a decent AHL player for a few years, but he's 24 and can't possibly carry more value than goaltender Petr Mrazek. Doesn't matter where, they're going to be in this draft 20 years from now.

The team still picked Cale Makar at the No. 4 pick, who some are calling the next Erik Karlsson. But that's not likely to be the case here with the Knights preferring to load up on assets that will help in the construction of a more sustainable victor down the line. Right now, Colorado needs to do what Edmonton did a year ago and shake up a roster that is clearly not fitting together anymore.

The 29-year-old from Whitby, Ont., has 238 goals and 213 assists in 632 career National Hockey League games over nine seasons split between Nashville, Pittsburgh and the Dallas Stars. He won three Stanley Cups with the Penguins.

"I don't think it's daunting, I think it's exciting", said Suzuki.

It used to be that height was an asset. A player who could thrive with extended playing time and wants more money that Vegas would be willing to give him could go to the new team.

Strome was selected fifth overall by the Islanders in 2011. At the beginning of the season, the team will be forced to place a handful of its expansion draftees on waivers, some of whom will be claimed while others will pass down to Vegas' AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves. An even bigger drop befell Matthew Strome, who had been ranked 33rd amongst North American skaters, but dropped to 106th overall.

So add it all up and the Knights should be competitive next season, and they're set for the future with a truckload of high-end draft picks. "I think if the three of us can do something special there it's going to be fantastic".

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