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One Week, Two Drafts

The Golden Knights will acquire more than 30 players in the next week during the Expansion and Entry Drafts

by Gary Lawless @GoldenKnights / VegasGoldenKnights.com

The expansion draft will give the Vegas Golden Knights life. The amateur draft will determine whether that life travels down a championship path.

Nobody is delivering the Golden Knights a Connor McDavid or Auston Matthews. George McPhee is going to have to find that kind of player on his own.

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Superstars get drafted and retained by organizations. McPhee knows this well as witnessed by his selections of players such Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Braden Holtby and Evgeny Kuznetsov and John Carlson which remain the backbone of the Washington Capitals.

McPhee built the Caps into a consistent contender through the draft. Certainly free agency and trades can augment a team but to win a Stanley Cup - the core of a club is almost always put together at the draft table.

The salary cap and the collective bargaining agreement conspire to make it crucial for teams to lock up assets on long-term, budget friendly contracts. Batting for average at the draft is key. If a GM can cash in with picks and select productive players and then retain these assets - a winner can be built.

"It's how we're going to build our team and develop our culture," said Golden Knights assistant director of player personnel Bob Lowes. Lowes has run preparation for the Golden Knights on the amateur draft side of things. He'll sit next to McPhee and assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon at the draft and provide and final input required before the call on a player. "In today's NHL with the salary cap - draft picks are critical. And it's a proven theory - the more swings you get - the more opportunity for a home run."

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"It's how we're going to build our team and develop our culture," said Golden Knights assistant director of player personnel Bob Lowes. Lowes has run preparation for the Golden Knights on the amateur draft side of things. He'll sit next to McPhee and assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon at the draft and provide and final input required before the call on a player. "In today's NHL with the salary cap - draft picks are critical. And it's a proven theory - the more swings you get - the more opportunity for a home run."

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Prior to the expansion draft, Vegas has seven picks in this year's draft selecting sixth in the first round and then third in the subsequent six rounds.

McPhee could attempt to move up in rounds or add picks. Some expansion draft strategists have suggested clubs will attempt to shelter players beyond their protected lists by waving draft picks at McPhee.

"The expansion draft isn't as cut and dried as just taking a player from each team," said Lowes. "There are lots of moving parts and each team presents a different set of possibilities."

 

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Another route for the Knights is moving some of the players they select in the expansion draft for amateur draft choices. Vegas will choose 30 players on June 21st and then could turn around trade some of those choices for amateur draft picks. Deals of that nature could also be put in place prior to the expansion draft. Team A could call McPhee and say, "we want this player from Team B, get him for us and we'll trade give you a pick or picks in return." Prospects could be involved in transactions of this nature, as well.

The Knights have 3 players currently under contract and will add 30 through the expansion draft. Some draft picks will be eligible to turn pro immediately and some won't. Then there is free agency this summer.

McPhee needs to stock two teams (NHL and AHL) and might want to place some assets in the ECHL. He needs 23 or so NHL players for the coming season but he also needs prospects to create a future.

"The amateur draft is the lifeblood of a team," said Lowes. "It's the most efficient source for players in today's NHL. Look at how teams are built - if you want to be a winner - you have to be consistent at the draft. That's what we're aiming for."

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