NHL Expansion Draft Prediction
Next season, the NHL is going to roll the dice on Vegas. This experiment might not work because of how touristy Vegas is and may not cultivate a fanbase. On the other hand, the Knights may be a pretty good team off the bat. I wouldn’t be surprised if they make the playoffs next season. They have a coach in Gerard Gallant, who was unfairly fired from Florida in the middle of the season, who’s been a pretty good coach. They could win the draft lottery and get projected first overall pick, Nolan Patrick. And lastly, they get an expansion draft that gives them a favorable advantage. In this expansion draft on June 21st, all 30 teams have a protection list. Teams can protect either 8 skaters and 1 goalie or 7 forwards, 3 defensemen, and 1 goalie. Players with no-movement clauses (NMC) cannot be moved. Vegas can then draft 1 player from each team. Due to the fact that there are a lot of quality back-up goalies, Las Vegas will have a lot of options for the 2 goalies they can select. Here are some speculative options.
Other Suggested Reads
Ben Bishop – Los Angeles Kings
Marc Andre Fleury (or) Matt Murray – Pittsburgh Penguins
It’s unclear at the moment which goalie the Penguins will protect. They both have a cup to their name but signs point to Matt Murray being protected because he is the starter. He’s also 10 years younger and had better numbers this season. However, Fleury has a no movement clause. So unless Fleury willingly waives it, Murray will be forced to be exposed. If this happens, Vegas instantly gets one of the best young goaltenders in the league. This 22-year-old played in 49 games, in those games, he had an SV % of .923 and GAA of 2.41.
If Fleury does waive his NMC and doesn’t get traded, there wouldn’t be a guarantee that Vegas would select him due to his age. However, 1 cup run and a career GAA of 2.55 and Sv % of .917 isn’t anything to sneeze at. Although, the Penguins do have Crosby, Malkin, and their endless slew of forwards, their defense is depleted in injuries. It’s impressive that both goalies can be dependable despite that, which will be an important quality for an expansion team.
Jonathan Bernier – Anaheim Ducks
Anaheim’s starting goaltender, John Gibson, has a history of being injured a lot. He has also never started more than 50 games in his 4 seasons in the league. He used to have Frederik Andersen as a tandem but this season, Jonathan Bernier took Andersen’s place. Gibson was injured through all of March and Bernier took the starting job in his place. In that month, the 28-year-old Bernier went 11-1-2 with an SV % of .941 and a GAA of 1.82. This 28-year-old deserves a shot at being the starter.
Philipp Grubauer – Washington Capitals
If the Knights wanted to pull a wild card, they would select Grubauer. I’ll start with why Vegas would take him, he’s 25 years old and has a .923 career SV % with a career GAA of 2.25, which are really good numbers for a back-up. However, because of that, he’s only started 55 games in 5 seasons. We don’t know how he’ll do with more of a role. Also, considering how stacked Washington’s offense is, Vegas would seriously have to consider what the Capitals leave behind on the forward front.
Other career backups where this will be the shock: Scott Darling; Chicago Blackhawks, Mike Condon; Ottawa Senators, Chad Johnson; Calgary Flames, Peter Budaj; Tampa Bay Lightning, Aanti Raanta; New York Rangers.
Roberto Luongo – Florida Panthers
Other goalies that are past their prime but could be useful: Jaroslav Halak; New York Islanders, Jimmy Howard; Detroit Red Wings, and Ryan Miller; Vancouver Canucks.
I think the Golden Knights go with Ben Bishop and I would bet on Philipp Grubauer to get the other goalie spot. GM McPhee would sign Bishop before he hits free agency. Bishop would then be the starter for the first couple of seasons until Grubauer can develop further. If all goes to plan, Grubauer would be the goalie of the future for the Knights. If Fleury doesn’t waive his no-movement clause, then I think the Knights go with Matt Murray instead of Grubauer.