Gary Bettman is the most powerful person in the NHL. Most days. But for the next four - it's Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee.
Bettman won't necessarily be handing over the keys to NHL HQ but right now, McPhee is the boss.
The veteran GM is in charge of all transactions in the league until Thursday at 5 a.m. PT.
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Want to keep your roster intact? Talk to McPhee. Want a player from another team's unprotected list? Talk to McPhee.
Want to move up or down in the amateur draft? Talk to McPhee.
Protected lists were distributed on Sunday morning and McPhee and his staff immediately began to grind towards the deadline of Wednesday at 7 a.m. PT when they must submit their expansion draft selections to the NHL. He took a few moments away to speak with the Vegas media on Sunday.
Video: Driving to work with George McPhee
What happens next?
GM: This has been a fascinating experience to date. There was a certain intensity to the last two or three days because we were trying to keep an eye on all the other clubs and it certainly changed today. It's a different phase. We have some control over what's happening now, but now we're on the clock. We have looked at the lists and there were no surprises. We have been really well prepared. Those mock drafts that we did have served us well. So, we are now going through the process of trying to put the team together. We are still talking to clubs and we are open to doing deals with clubs if they want to protect their rosters. So, that's where we are this morning and we analyzed what transpired with the lists this morning, and there wasn't a whole lot to analyze and we are now talking to teams.
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Was the lack of activity prior to the freeze expected?
GM: That was the bigger surprise yesterday, because we were expecting this mass redistribution of players that really didn't happen, which we were really happy about… Well, what it does is, some of the things we were worried about with no-move clauses and that sort of thing didn't happen, and I think the harvest of assets that we are going to have now will be what we were hoping for.
What are you working on now?
GM: We're focusing on everything. We're talking to unrestricted free agents, we're talking to restricted free agents, and we continue to talk to teams... We've done this well enough that we were happy with what we saw this morning… I can't get into specific names at this point. We do have a show (NHL Awards and Expansion Draft) in three or four days that we want to go real well. Until the players are our property, I can't talk about them.
Video: Driving to work with George McPhee
What is the strategy, what are the Golden Knights trying to accomplish through the expansion draft?
GM: We're doing what's best for this hockey club and we think we can accomplish two things. We can put a good team on the ice and accumulate draft picks and be in a surplus situation here in the next couple of years so that we can start with a real good team and then build it with these draft picks to a team that can win a Cup.
Will there be difficult positional discussions?
GM: Yes. That's a very good question. The issue for us isn't going to be 'Can we fill out the roster?' it would be 'Do we have too many players?' There are lots of good players there, and we have sort of a master list right now, a team up on the board with all the possibilities, which is different than what we did leading into this with individual clubs. Now, this is our club that's up on the board. We are going to be taking things out or marking a guy in blue because he's a blue-chip guy, he's going to be here.
Do you expect to get calls from teams about unprotected players from other clubs?
GM: Yes. Yeah, we expect that that will happen today. In fact, it's already started to happen. People have identified people on other clubs that they'd like to have and we have to establish the value for that and whatever you want to give us has to be better than what we can claim from that club. So, that is starting to happen and then we're going to go to that club and say 'We have interest in this player. There's another club that has interest in this player. How do we want to do this? How can we protect your roster? You can negotiate your way out of this if you wish.' Every team in this league has a chance to protect their roster. We will not make a claim with any club before we talk to the club.