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Golden Knights plan to spend in free agency, GM says

'Money's not a problem,' according to George McPhee @NHL

The Vegas Golden Knights plan to be very active when NHL free agency begins, general manager George McPhee told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. 

"Money's not a problem," McPhee said Monday in a Q&A with season-ticket holders. "Our owner, Bill Foley, is not afraid to spend to get the right player, and it's our job to identify who those players are."

Some players who can become unrestricted free agents are San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton, Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie, and Capitals defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.

From June 18-20, Vegas will have a chance to sign any restricted or unrestricted free agent left unprotected by his team for the NHL Expansion Draft, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. These free agents would not otherwise be allowed to sign with a team different than the one they played for this season until July 1.

That 72-hour free-agent window coincides with the Expansion Draft process. If a free agent does sign with the Golden Knights, he would be Vegas' one selection from that player's team (Vegas is required to select or sign one player off each existing team's list of unprotected players, with a minimum of 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies).

This does not preclude Vegas from claiming an unprotected free agent during the Expansion Draft and gaining an exclusive window to sign the player before July 1, but the NHL is giving the Golden Knights the window to reduce the chance they will claim a player who has no intention of signing with them.

The Golden Knights will fill out most of their roster in the Expansion Draft. The 30 other NHL teams must submit their list of protected players by 5 p.m. ET June 17. Vegas will pick one player from each team and submit its selections by 5 p.m. ET June 20, and the announcement of the selections will be made June 21.

The NHL salary cap for next season reportedly will be near its $73 million value of this season.

The Golden Knights signed their first player, forward Reid Duke of Brandon of the Western Hockey League, to a three-year, entry-level contract March 6. Vegas will continue to scout amateur players with the NCAA Frozen Four and CHL Memorial Cup approaching.

"Things are going to be very busy," McPhee said. "But we don't want to miss these opportunities to get another look at players who may be able to help us."

McPhee also said Vegas plans to wait until the end of the NHL regular season to hire a coach.

"We decided in August to take our time and pick who we wanted in the spring. That plan hasn't changed," McPhee said. "We want someone who is very current with the game, someone progressive on how the game should be played."

Video: NHL Now: George McPhee joins the show

The Golden Knights plan to announce their American Hockey League affiliate next month.

"We're in a good place with our [AHL] club," McPhee said. "We're going to a market with a good hockey history and a team which has been winning. We'll have full authority over all hockey matters. We'll supply the coaches and many of the players. It's all about development and winning."

Former NHL defenseman Marty McSorley, who attended Wayne Gretzky's Fantasy Camp at Las Vegas Ice Center last week, said he believes the Golden Knights will have no trouble luring free agents.

"Well it's going to be an attractive place to play, here in Las Vegas, because it's great for the wives," McSorley told the Golden Knights website last week. "You know, when you're in a warm-weather climate, the kids can go out and play all year-round.

"The facilities here in Las Vegas are unbelievable. The ability for a family to go out and do so many great things, from parks, to golf, to great little shows, to schools and hospitals. Everything is here in Las Vegas from that standpoint."

McSorley said the fact Nevada does not have a state income tax also will help.

"For players, that's another huge caveat for the Vegas Golden Knights," he said.

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