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We’ve compared every current contender’s build to the Edmonton Oilers, long the focus of this blog. While each team has their own imperfections in how to put things together, we found a common theme – that each had found important key players in innings 2-7 of the draft, an area where the Oilers have long failed. Collectively, the comparisons have highlighted just how critical a weakness has been for the locals.
Now we come to our fourth team, the Vegas Golden Knights, and we can throw all these models out the window. The Vegans are a whole different beast, put together in a way that’s totally alien to any other NHL team in the Salary Cap era.
So foreign, in fact, that I’m going to take our standard format – Round 1 pick | Rounds 2-7 choices | Entry-Level Free Agents | Free agents without restriction | Trades – and flip it over, then add a few entirely new categories to the top of the stack. Because where these other clubs took over a decade to build their contenders, the Vegas Golden Knights largely built theirs in one day!
June 21, 2017 was the day the first new NHL franchise in 17 years entered the fray with a powerful burst. Taking full advantage of the most favorable terms ever offered to an expanding NHL team, George McPhee, then general manager, left with a large number of useful and long-term NHL players.
Of the 25 players considered to be part of the current Golden Knights, no less than ten of them were directly selected in this expansion project. A deal has been made to pick franchise goalie Marc-André Fleury, already three-time Stanley Cup champion, from the Pittsburgh Penguins; indeed, the Penguins had to sweeten the pot with a second-round pick to convince the wily George McPhee to take the veteran cap and help resolve a salary cap issue in Pittsburgh. The newcomers caught the two players on their pair of stopping defense, Nate Schmidt and Brayden McNabb (see: the photo at the top of this post for a typical deployment). They found two forwards scoring in Wild Bill Karlsson and Jonathan Marchessault who gave the club instant scoring power up front. One way or another, McPhee took advantage of both those acquisitions of additional assets.