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Drafting The Las Vegas Golden Knights Roster: Every NHL Team's Most Likely Expansion Casualty

The Las Vegas Golden Knights. Love it or hate it, you might as well get used to it because that’s the official name of the NHL’s newest franchise. With the recent shutting down of General Fanager (

The Las Vegas Golden Knights.

Love it or hate it, you might as well get used to it because that’s the official name of the NHL’s newest franchise. With the recent shutting down of General Fanager (because the operator of the site was recently hired by the Golden Knights, coincidentally), I was worried there wouldn’t be another expansion draft tool. Luckily, the internet came through for me and Cap Friendly now has one, and it’s great. Go check it out.

Using that tool we went ahead and selected a team for the Las Vegas Golden Knights. Now, it’s unlikely that this is what the Golden Knights look like come this June, but we basically are looking at each NHL team’s most likely casualty of the expansion draft.

As for the rules, well, we still don’t know how all of these things will look come June, so we made some assumptions for the purposes of this list. First, we excluded pending UFAs but included pending RFAs. We’re making the assumption that the pending UFAs don’t have new contracts with their current teams when it comes time for Vegas to make its picks, but we’re also assuming that they do lock up their pending RFAs.

There is also a rule that teams must leave at least two forwards and one defenseman unprotected who meet one of the following requirements: they must have played 70-plus games between 2015-16 and 2016-17, or they must have played 40-plus games in 2016-17. Since it’s too early to tell who exactly will fit these requirements, we ignored them for now.

Without further ado, let’s get to it. Here is every NHL team’s most likely expansion draft casualty. Enjoy:

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29 Anaheim Ducks: Jakob Silfverberg, RW

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Perry, Getzlaf, Kesler, Rakell, Lindholm, Vatanen, Fowler, Bieksa, Gibson

The Ducks have four NMCs to deal with (Perry, Getzlaf, Kesler, Bieksa), and it’s that last one that sort of forces them to go the 4-4-1 route. It’s unlikely that Anaheim would choose to protect a 36-year-old defenseman with just one more year left on his deal, but the NMC forces them to do so.

As a result, the Golden Knights will have a decent crop of forwards to choose from when it comes to the Anaheim Ducks. Because he’s three years younger and is also a center, we’re betting the Ducks protect Rickard Rakell as their fourth forward over Jakob Silfverberg. It could easily be the other way around, but Rakell is locked up until 2022 and Silvferberg only until 2019. Silfverberg could man the ride side in the top six in Vegas.

28 Arizona Coyotes: Jamie McGinn, LW

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Richardson, Rieder, Duclair, Ekman-Larsson, Goligoski, Stone, Murphy, Connauton, Smith

The Golden Knights will have to pick up a few veterans in expansion and Arizona’s Jamie McGinn is a pretty good bet for Vegas. The Coyotes are a weird team in that they only have three forwards under contract for next season who require protection. They have much more defensemen under contract beyond 2017, so they’ll want to protect them first.

McGinn is the type of player who gets plucked in an expansion draft. He’s currently 28 years old, has two Vegas seasons under his contract should they take him, and he’s a veteran of 457 NHL games. The Golden Knights will certainly have a lot of youth on it, but a lot of veterans will be plucked in expansion and one could very well be McGinn.

27 Boston Bruins: Colin Miller, D

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Krejci, Bergeron, Backes, Marchand, Hayes, Spooner, Pastrnak, Chara, Krug, McQuaid, Rask

Due to the expansion rules, some teams are going to be forced to leave solid prospects with a little NHL experience unprotected. Colin Miller is a 24-year-old rearguard who established himself as a full-time NHLer last season and is picking up where he left off. It'll be tough for Boston to see him leave, but with the abundance of talent on their roster, it's a necessity.

Unfortunately for the Bruins, they have way too many good young forwards who require protection, not to mention the NMCs they’re saddled with. One of the three defensemen they are forced to protect is nearly-40-year-old Zdeno Chara, which is essentially how Miller becomes available for Vegas here. There is a chance that Vegas elects to go for Riley Nash here, but it’ll be too difficult to pass on Miller.

26 Buffalo Sabres: Linus Ullmark, G

Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: O’Reilly, Okposo, Kane, Ennis, Foligno, Girgensons, Larsson, Ristolainen, Bogosian, McCabe, Lehner

The goaltenders that Las Vegas picks are the most difficult to predict. As each team is only able to protect one netminder, the options will be vast. They’ll be selecting goalies to not only staff their NHL team but also to provide organizational depth in the position. That’s why Linus Ullmark could be a Las Vegas Golden Knight by next summer. It's a move that many may not expect, but could be smart in the long run.

Ulmark showed a bit of promise last season when Robin Lehner was down with an injury, and he could be a great death option for Vegas in the crease. At just 23 years old he’s relatively young for a goalie, an age where one more season of development could create a legit NHL netminder, ready for a 1A/1B role.

25 Calgary Flames: Jyrki Jokipakka, D

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Gaudreau, Monahan, Brouwer, Frolik, Backlund, Bennett, Ferland, Giordano, Hamilton, Brodie, Elliott

The Flames are top-heavy on both forward and D, so these protections weren’t especially difficult choices. It should be noted that the Elliott protection could be any goalie by next spring, as he’s only on a one-year contract in Calgary, and backup Chad Johnson is also on an expiring contract.

Jyrki Jokipakka was acquired at last season’s trade deadline in a swap with Dallas (Kris Russell went the other way), and quite frankly the Stars got fleeced on this deal. It is unfortunate the Flames won’t be able to use a protection on Jokipakka, as he’s coming into his own and establishing himself as an everyday player at the age of 25. Jokipakka will be a stellar young defender for the Golden Knights starting next season.

24 Carolina Hurricanes: Lee Stempniak, RW

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Staal, Skinner, Bickell, Rask, Lindholm, Nestrasil, Teravainen, Faulk, Murphy, Dahlbeck, Lack

Lee Stempniak is somewhat of an enigma, as his production throughout his career has wildly fluctuated. He had a bit of a resurgence last season, putting up 51 points in a full season’s worth of work (a career high). We’ve previously mentioned the need for Vegas to stock itself with veterans and youngsters alike, and Stempniak is a solid pick to add to the former category.

The Hurricanes have a lot of youth in their lineup that will require protection, and since Stempniak is only under contract for one more season beyond this one, it’s highly unlikely that the ‘Canes will use a protection slot on him. Stempniak is versatile and can play virtually anywhere in the lineup, and would be a leader on the expansion Golden Knights.

23 Chicago Blackhawks: Marcus Kruger, C

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Toews, Kane, Hossa, Anisimov, Seabrook, Keith, Hjalmarsson, Van Riemsdyk, Crawford

The Chicago Blackhawks are one of the most top-heavy teams in the entire league, but I guess that’s what you get when two forwards represent almost 30 percent of your cap space. This might work out okay for the ‘Hawks in the expansion, even though eight of their nine protections are NMCs (all aside from Trevor Van Riemsdyk).

Marcus Kruger is the type of player who would be very attractive to an expansion team. He’s won two Cups with Chicago, playing a key depth role in both runs. He’s a veteran of nearly 350 NHL games , and although his price tag is a little bit high, his deal only runs for two more years beyond the current one, so it’s not too much to take on.

22 Colorado Avalanche: Calvin Pickard, G

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: MacKinnon, Duchene, Landeskog, Soderberg, Colborne, Grigorenko, Grimaldi, Johnson, Barrie, Beauchemin, Varlamov

The Colorado Avalanche will very likely be going with the 7-3-1 route on account of the wealth of young forwards they have that need protection. Calvin Pickard has had a fairly good showing in his brief auditions thus far in his young NHL career, and there’s a chance the Las Vegas Golden Knights take a flier on him in the 2017 expansion draft. And a move like this could become more valuable as the years go on.

The 24-year-old is under contract for just one more season beyond the present one, so it offers Vegas the opportunity to take a good look at Pickard in its inaugural season and then make a decision from there. At just a $1 million cap hit, it’s a low risk, potentially high reward pick for an expansion team.

21 Columbus Blue Jackets: Jack Johnson, D

Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Saad, Dubinsky, Foligno, Hartnell, Atkinson, Jenner, Wennberg, Jones, Savard, Murray, Bobrovsky

There are a few NMCs that will cripple the Blue Jackets this June if they don’t do something about it. They’re forced to protect Brandon Dubinsky, Nick Foligno, and Scott Hartnell up front, and that’s assuming that David Clarkson is still on the LTIR come June. If he’s not, you can add his name to the list of players that Columbus will be forced to spend a valuable protection spot on.

Since the Jackets have a handful of other forwards that will need protection, they’re going to be forced to expose a pretty decent defenseman. With Seth Jones, David Savard, and Ryan Murray all younger and already better than Jack Johnson (debatable, for sure), the Las Vegas Golden Knights will likely acquire Johnson this June.

20 Dallas Stars: Esa Lindell, D

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Spezza, Seguin, Ja. Benn, Eakin, Roussel, Ritchie, Faska, Klingberg, Hamhuis, Oleksiak, Niemi

While it’s entirely possible that Las Vegas elects to go with Jamie’s brother Jordie Benn, I’d say it’s more likely that they go with youth and select defenseman Esa Lindell. The Dallas Stars will be forced to leave a few solid back-end prospects unprotected, and Lindell is probably a better candidate to leave open than Jamie Oleksiak.

Lindell was a third-round pick in 2012, so he’s getting to the age where, if he’s going to make it, it will probably be in the next few years. As an expansion team, Las Vegas will be taking a few gambles on young prospects over older veterans in a few situations in order to diversify their portfolio, so to speak. Someone like Lindell could be the perfect pick for the new team.

19 Detroit Red Wings: Andreas Athanasiou, C

Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Zetterberg, Nielsen, Nyquist, Abdelkader, Helm, Tatar, Sheahan, Green, DeKeyser, Ericsson, Mrazek

It’s definitely possible that the Golden Knights decide to go with experience and pluck the 35-year-old Niklas Kronwall from Detroit, but again I’d say it’s more likely they go with youth and take a chance on 22-year-old center Andreas Athanasiou. Athanasiou established himself as a full-time NHLer late last season, and although he’s shown signs of inconsistency, he’s a good bet for Las Vegas.

If the Wings do elect to protect Athanasiou instead of, say, Darren Helm or Riley Sheahan, then expect one of those guys to be on their way out of Detroit. Any way you look at it, the Red Wings have a plethora of solid young forwards in need of protection, so someone decent will be gone. They will leave goaltender Jimmy Howard unprotected, but I doubt Vegas bites on his $5.3 million cap hit for two more seasons.

18 Edmonton Oilers: Benoit Pouliot, LW

Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Eberle, Lucic, Nugent-Hopkins, Draisaitl, Sekera, Klefbom, Larsson, Davidson, Talbot

With the offseason departure of Taylor Hall, it’s now likely the Oilers will be protecting four forwards and four D, rather than seven and three. In this scenario, it looks as though Benoit Pouliot is the odd man out—although, with the way the current season is going, it’s entirely possible that Vegas elects to go with the more affordable Patrick Maroon.

Pouliot is having a pretty bad season, and Maroon leads the Oilers in goals (aside from Connor McDavid, of course), playing on McDavid’s wing on many nights. Nonetheless, if you take the body of work there’s no question that Pouliot has proven himself as a reliable NHL player who can consistently put up around 40 points. Whether Vegas ends up with Pouliot or Maroon, it’s a nice addition for the expansion team.

17 Florida Panthers: James Reimer, G

John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Barkov, Trochek, Bjugstad, Jokinen, Smith, Huberdeau, Marchessault, Yandle, Demers, Ekblad, Luongo

It is from Florida that the Las Vegas Golden Knights will acquire their first ever starting goalie (or, perhaps we should say, a 1A/1B goalie). James Reimer is under contract until 2021, and he’s no stranger to sharing the load on a sub-par team. It’s a role he played in Toronto off and on for six seasons, sharing the crease there with several different ‘tenders over those seasons. That's something he can do again out west.

Reimer is 28, so he should be a stellar goalie for the duration of his contract. Since it’s unlikely an undisputed number one goalie will be left unprotected, safe money says the Las Vegas Golden Knights will be going with a 1A/1B situation, and Reimer simply fits that role to a T.

16 Los Angeles Kings: Brayden McNabb, D

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Kopitar, Carter, Toffoli, Lewis, King, Pearson, Dowd, Doughty, Muzzin, Martinez, Quick

The Los Angeles Kings have a decent mix of youth and experience, and the Kings will certainly do their darndest to protect the best of both sides. They have so many forwards that require protection that they almost need to elect for the 7-3 route. The three defensemen they protect, then, are easy choices, but they’ll be leaving some decent prospects open in that case.

That means it’s possible that Vegas goes with defenseman Brayden McNabb, who has been an important part of the Kings back-end depth for the past few seasons. He logs top-four minutes on a very deep blue line in L.A., so there’s no reason to believe he can’t adequately fill that role on the expansion Golden Knights.

15 Minnesota Wild: Marco Scandella, D

Billy Hurst-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Parise, Koivu, Pominville, Coyle, Granlund, Niederreiter, Haula, Suter, Spurgeon, Brodin, Dubnyk

A few somewhat unfortunate no move clauses will force Minnesota to go the 7-3 route, which means they will inevitably be leaving some darn good D-men open for expansion. With the options at their disposal, there is a pretty good chance that the Las Vegas Golden Knights will go with whoever is left unprotected back there out of Spurgeon, Brodin, Dumba and Scandella.

For this mock draft we left Scandella and Dumba open, and Vegas chose to go with Scandella in our iteration. It could very possibly be any of these young defenders, but it will very likely be one of them given the current makeup of the Minnesota Wild. They simply have too many young forwards to protect, and that's something that will play into Las Vegas' favor.

14 Montreal Canadiens: Phillip Danault, C

Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Plekanec, Pacioretty, Gallagher, Galchenyuk, Weber, Petry, Emelin, Beaulieu, Price

It’s far enough into 2016-17 that we can start identifying players who are breaking out this season, and one of them could be Canadiens center Phillip Danault. Danault, 23, is under contract until the end of 2017-18 and the former first-rounder is finding his niche in Montreal.

Danault came to Montreal from Chicago midway through last season, and although the centerman only played 21 games in Montreal, he’s off to a solid start in 2016-17, playing in every game so far and registering nine points in the process. The Habs won’t be able to protect Danault, as they have four defensemen who require it so will likely go the 4-4 route. It'll be hard to snag a young talent, but the Golden Knights could luck out with a pick like Danault.

Nashville Predators: James Neal, LW

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Forsberg, Smith, Johansen, Wilson, Subban, Josi, Ekholm, Ellis, Rinne

Teams need first line players, and James Neal can play that role in the NHL. With the depth the Predators have on their back-end, I think it’s safe to say that a decent forward will be leaving Nashville for Las Vegas next June, and conventional wisdom points to sniper James Neal as being that player.

Neal is a former 40-goal scorer, albeit that was the season he was tethered to Evgeni Malkin in Pittsburgh. That being said, he hasn’t scored fewer than 21 goals in any given season of his career, including the lockout-shortened 2012-13. The guy is a proven sniper. There’s no doubt the guy can put the puck in the net, and he’ll be a good addition to Vegas.

13 New Jersey Devils: Ben Lovejoy, D

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Hall, Zajac, Cammalleri, Palmieri, Henrique, Josefson, Bennett, Greene, Moore, Severson, Schneider

With the addition of Taylor Hall coupled with the subtraction of Adam Larsson, the Devils will likely protect seven forwards and three defensemen. Andy Greene is one of the most underrated defensemen in the league, and he has a reasonable contract as well so he’ll be protected. Damon Severson is gaining stud status and is only 22, so he’ll be protected. John Moore (25) is younger than Ben Lovejoy, so it’s likely he’s protected as well.

That means the Simpsonian-one could find himself in a Las Vegas Golden Knights jersey come June. While the analytics crowd is certainly not enamored with Lovejoy of late, he still brings over 350 games of NHL experience with him, and that shouldn’t be ignored. Lovejoy can be a stellar third-pairing option on a good team, but I could see him on the second-pairing on this expansion team.

12 New York Islanders: Ryan Strome, C

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Tavares, Ladd, Lee, Cizikas, Bailey, Nelson, Prince, Boychuk, Leddy, Hamonic, Halak

If you think your favorite team is going to have some issues come expansion, take a look at the Islanders situation and be thankful. If the Islanders are in fact your favorite team… well, sorry. Even with seven forward protections, the Isles are still leaving some darn good players up for grabs. We’re assuming that Vegas goes with Ryan Strome, who frequently falls in and out of favor in Brooklyn.

It’s possible that the Golden Knights go with experience and pick up Nikolai Kulemin, Mikhail Grabovski, or even Cal Clutterbuck, but Strome is too young and has too high a prospect pedigree for Las Vegas to ignore. They’ll need some solid young players to start off their team, and Strome fits that bill.

11 New York Rangers: Brandon Pirri, C

Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Stepan, Kreider, Zuccarello, Miller, Zibanejad, Hayes, Grabner, Staal, Girardi, McDonagh, Lundqvist

Brandon Pirri has been passed around the NHL, as he’s on his fourth team since 2014. You can expect him to be on his fifth by next June, as the Las Vegas Golden Knights could very well select Pirri as their player from the New York Rangers. Pirri is scoring now, as is everybody else in a Rangers jersey, so he’s an attractive selection at this point.

Pirri could fill the role of either 3rd or 4th line center, depending on which other centers the Golden Knights are able to pluck in the expansion. If they are able to get the type of depth up the middle that pushes Pirri down to the 4th line, this could be a pretty darn good expansion team once it’s all said and done.

10 Ottawa Senators: Chris Driedger, G

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Ryan, Hoffman, Brassard, Stone, Turris, Pageau, Dzingel, Phaneuf, Karlsson, Methot, Anderson

Although Andrew Hammond will be available for the Knights to pick, I think they might take the younger Chris Driedger instead. Driedger is just 22 years old, and with Hammond already 28 and seemingly having peaked in that home stretch of the 2014-15 season, Driedger could be a good development project for the Golden Knights.

By taking Driedger, Las Vegas will have the luxury of being able to play him on the farm (a situation that is still being worked out) as much as possible. With a few years as a starter in the minors, Driedger might be ready to step into the bigs right around the same time Vegas starts becoming competitive. While many see the expansion draft as a place to take ready-made talent, someone like Driedger could pay off in the long run.

9 Philadelphia Flyers: Dale Weise, RW

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Giroux, Voracek, Schenn, Couturier, Simmonds, Read, Raffl, Gudas, Manning, Gostisbehere, Mason

With tons of great young forwards who will require protection, and three burgeoning D-men in Radko Gudas, Brandon Manning, and Shane Gostisbehere, it’s fairly easy to pick the protections in Philly. Veteran grinder Dale Weise will be left unprotected, though, and he could be a valuable piece for the Las Vegas Golden Knights.

As I’ve stated before, it will be important for the expansion team to have a mix of youth and experience, and Weise brings a decent amount of the latter. He’s seasoned in this league, having played nearly 350 games already, and at 28 he’s still young enough to expect three or four more solid years from the winger before regression hits.

8 Pittsburgh Penguins: Carl Hagelin, LW

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Malkin, Crosby, Kessel, Hornqvist, Letang, Maatta, Cole, Pouliot, Fleury/Murray

I don’t think the Pittsburgh Penguins are too thrilled at the idea of losing either Matt Murray or Marc-Andre Fleury for nothing in the expansion, so this selection is operating under the assumption that they deal one of those goalies before Vegas makes their picks. As a result, the Golden Knights will have to settle with Carl Hagelin from the Pens.

Hagelin came to Pittsburgh midseason last year and immediately developed chemistry with Phil Kessel and Nick Bonino. They were arguably the most consistent line for the Pens in the playoffs last year, so it will be tough for Pittsburgh (and especially for Phil the Thrill) to see Hagelin go, but these are the types of things that happen in expansion drafts.

7 San Jose Sharks: Justin Braun, D

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Couture, Pavelski, Ward, Hertl, Karlsson, Nieto, Tierney, Martin, Vlasic, Dillon

The protections in San Jose could look very different come June. Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, and Brent Burns are all on expiring contracts, and you’d have to think that at least one of those players gets an extension. At the present time, though, we can’t make those assumptions, so Las Vegas takes defenseman Justin Braun from the Sharks.

Braun has spent his whole NHL career playing with the Sharks, the team that drafted him in the 7th round of the 2007 NHL Entry Draft. It will be hard for the Sharks brass to leave him unprotected based on their long relationship, but the only other D-man who I could see them leaving open is Brendan Dillon, but he’s three years younger than Braun so that doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

6 St. Louis Blues: Nail Yakupov, RW

Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Tarasenko, Stastny, Steen, Schwartz, Lehtera, Perron, Jaskin, Pietrangelo, Bouwmeester, Gunnarsson, Allen

Why not? The former 1st overall draft pick from 2012 could very well be selected from the St. Louis Blues. Nail Yakupov has been in and out of the lineup with a clean bill of health for the past couple of weeks, so it’s tough to imagine the Blues spending a valuable protection on the enigmatic Russian. Yakupov would be a low risk, high reward pick for Las Vegas, a team that's going to need as much talent as they possibly can acquire.

Yakupov is still just 23 years old, so there’s no reason that the Russian can’t figure things out. His ceiling is probably higher than anyone else who will be left unprotected in the expansion draft, so the Golden Knights really have nothing to lose by selecting Yak here.

5 Tampa Bay Lightning: Jonathan Drouin, LW

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Stamkos, Callahan, Filppula, Kucherov, Killorn, Johnson, Palat, Stralman, Hedman, Garrison, Vasilevskiy

It is obviously entirely possible that the Tampa Bay Lightning protect Jonathan Drouin, and there are several ways they could do that. They could simply choose to protect Drouin over Ondrej Palat; or, they could find a way to shed themselves of Ryan Callahan’s NMC contract, thus opening up a slot to keep Drouin.

At this stage, though, methinks this is the most likely scenario. Unless Steve Yzerman is able to figure that Callahan situation out, there will no doubt be a pretty great forward available to Vegas from Tampa’s roster. Drouin’s ceiling is high, and since there was some animosity in the relationship between player and team in the past, I could see them being okay with this separation.

4 Toronto Maple Leafs: Peter Holland, C

Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Kadri, Van Riemsdyk, Bozak, Komarov, Rielly, Gardiner, Marincin, Carrick, Andersen

There is quite a bit still to be figured out in Toronto before expansion, but, in any case, it doesn’t look like they’ll be losing a great player. Most of Toronto’s impact players this season are actually rookies, so they don’t require protection. Depth up the middle is extremely important for any franchise, and Vegas will add depth by picking up Peter Holland from the Leafs.

Holland is a former first round pick who’s played over 200 games in the NHL now, and at just 25 years old he could continue to develop into a stellar shutdown guy. If he can share the third and fourth line center job with Brandon Pirri on the Vegas team, they’ll be in decent shape in Vegas.

3 Vancouver Canucks: Derek Dorsett, RW

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: D. Sedin, H. Sedin, Eriksson, Sutter, Hansen, Granlund, Horvat, Edler, Tanev, Gudbranson, Markstrom

An NHL team is only as good as the sum of its parts, and you need all different elements to make it work. Derek Dorsett would bring toughness and grit to the Las Vegas Golden Knights, so he’s a logical choice for Vegas from the Canucks.

Dorsett won’t score 20 goals or anything, but it’s reasonable he could chip in 10-15 if he plays a regular shift. He’s actually fairly versatile; he hasn’t done a lot penalty killing this season for Vancouver, but he’s done some in the past and has proven capable of light duties there. He’s not afraid to drop the mitts either, and although that aspect is leaving the game, it will still be there next season and Vegas might need a fighter.

2 Washington Capitals: Jay Beagle, RW

James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Ovechkin, Backstrom, Johansson, Eller, Kuznetsov, Wilson, Burakovsky, Niskanen, Orpik, Carlson, Holtby

We can’t really say it enough—veteran leadership is huge on an expansion team. Yes, they need to stock their prospect cupboard with prospects and youth, but if they don’t want to be pushed around by the rest of the league, they need experience to couple with their youth. They’re going to be a young team, there’s no doubt about that. They’ll need some mentors.

Beagle, 31, is under contract for just one more season beyond the present one, so it’s not a long-term commitment on the Golden Knights' behalf. They’ll want a handful of expiring contracts so that they can use the first season to figure out what they have, and more importantly, who they want to keep for the future. This move seems like a no-brainer.

1 Winnipeg Jets: Mathieu Perreault, C

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Protected: Scheifele, Wheeler, Little, Stafford, Byfuglien, Enstrom, Myers, Trouba, Helleybuyck

Mathieu Perreault isn’t a first line center on most NHL teams, but he might be expected to at least help fill that role in Las Vegas next season. It’s highly unlikely the Golden Knights will be able to snag a legitimate top-line center, as teams simply will not be making those available and will be protecting them at all costs.

Perreault has shown signs that he can contribute on both sides of the puck so far in his career. He’s scored close to 0.7 points per game pace just a few seasons ago, (41 in 62). He’s pretty much money in the bank to get you at least 40 points, even in an off year, so Las Vegas would be wise to pluck the French Canadian from Winnipeg.

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Drafting The Las Vegas Golden Knights Roster: Every NHL Team's Most Likely Expansion Casualty