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One Draft Down, One To Go

The Golden Knights have 13 picks in the NHL Entry Draft, beginning Friday in Chicago

by Gary Lawless @GoldenKnights /

Thirteen draft picks in all. Three in the opening 15 of the first round. Six before the second round is complete.

George McPhee and his Vegas Golden Knights, by virtue of being the only team making selections, dominated the expansion draft. They seem intent on doing the same at the amateur draft beginning Friday in Chicago.

McPhee was strategic in his selection of expansion draft players and with more than a few of his transactions the focus was on the entry draft rather than the expansion round.

If a rival GM wanted to protect a player - his choices were send Vegas a younger player such as Anaheim blueliner Shea Theodore or pass over draft picks.

McPhee also selected veteran players he believes will be portable assets moving forward. The expansion draft gave the Golden Knights players to ice a team but it will be the amateur draft which eventually makes this franchise a contender.

McPhee spoke to the media in Chicago on Thursday afternoon with only one more sleep to go prior to the expansion draft. Rumors about McPhee and trying to move up higher into the first round are out there but he wasn't biting on queries about his strategy.

Video: Commissioner Bettman discusses the Golden Knights


"I'm not sure what we'll do and I'm not sure it helps to explain our thoughts," said McPhee. "As you can imagine the expansion draft took away some of our attention the last few hads. We're trying to finalize our list. I haven't had a lot of talk with out clubs but that will start (Friday)…

"With three picks in the top 15 - we have a chance to get three really good players. Right now our plan is to try to draft three players. I guess we'll see if something else happens."

McPhee put a lot of time into the expansion draft of late but he logged many hours on the amateur draft during the hockey season.

The Golden Knights also had personnel staff on the amateur side in Vegas up until Monday. Bobby Lowes, Scott Luce and Misha Donskov bounced from the pro side boardroom to an office of their own and provided updates to McPhee and assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon on a daily basis.

McPhee and McCrimmon bolted straight from the expansion draft show to the airport and arrived in Chicago early in the very early hours of Thursday.


Video: Bill Foley on draft, Golden Knights' first season


"It's a hard draft. Going through it today, it's a harder draft than most," said McPhee. "When you have three picks in the first round, it's hard to manage. When you have one pick in the first round, you pick one guy and figure out how to get him. When you have three, it's hard. But it's a good problem to have."

McPhee has shown exceptional skills in the areas of preparation and organization during the building of the Golden Knights. He and McCrimmon had almost a year to prepare for this week and they judiciously used their time.

"(My knowledge of this draft class) is almost as close as what I've had in the past. I didn't have a team to look after this year. I found time to get out and watch players," said McPhee. "I feel good about my knowledge of the draft. But mine is more snapshots of the players. I don't get to see them as much as the scouts and I really try to pay deference to the scouts."

McPhee said Thursday his drafting philosophy is simple. He doesn't take a 30,000-foot view to the draft. It's ground level.

"The way to approach it is to take the best player and then the next best player and then the next best player," he said.

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