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Vegas focused on building quality, not quantity

Golden Knights 'trying to find players who will make big contributions'

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee said Thursday he's happy the NHL will reveal the protected lists for the upcoming Expansion Draft.

The NHL said Wednesday that each team's list of protected and available players would likely be released June 18. The Golden Knights will reveal their 30 selections, one from each team, on June 21.

"It's a fan-friendly move that makes sense," said McPhee, who was at Wells Fargo Center with assistant general manager Kelly McCrimmon scouting the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday. "It generates a lot of interest in what's going to happen. And for a lot of fans, they'll be watching closely what players are exposed and who's claimed and who isn't."

McPhee said he and his scouts will be at games throughout the Stanley Cup Playoffs as they continue to assess potential selections.

"You have to know everything you can about a player," he said. "And performances change from regular season to playoffs, performances change during the season. You have to follow all of them and figure out which way they're trending.

"You try to be as comprehensive as possible and see a player in all kinds of different environments, home and away, losing big, winning big, playoff game, fourth line, first line, where's the player playing and how is he performing. How does he accept the challenges that he's facing?"

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Vegas also has scouts assessing undrafted free agents in North America and Europe. The Golden Knights signed their only player so far, forward Reid Duke of Brandon of the Western Hockey League, on March 6.

"We just have to make sure that when you're offering an NHL contract that player is capable of not only … you want them to be an NHL player and you want them to be a good NHL player, otherwise why are you signing him?" McPhee said. "We're not going to waste contracts, we're not going to spray contracts all over the place. We're going to be very judicious and give NHL contracts to players that we think can be NHL players. That's it. If that means we sign one player, than we sign one. If we sign three, we sign three. But I doubt very much we'll be signing four or five or six.

"It would have to be the right situation and the right player. There aren't many we have interest in at this point. … We're trying to find players who will make big contributions at the NHL level."

McPhee said the coaching search remains ongoing but that Vegas is in no rush to hire someone.

"We're pretty general with it," he said. "We'll do it sometime in the spring. We haven't strayed from that plan. We put that in place back in August. And we will see what develops over the next month or so."

The 30 other NHL teams must submit their list of protected players by 5 p.m. ET June 17. Vegas will submit its selections by 5 p.m. ET June 20, and the announcement of the roster will be made the next day.

Video: A look at the 2017 Expansion Draft rules

Teams must protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender; or eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender.

Any player with a no-movement clause in his contract at the time of the expansion draft must be protected unless he waives it. All first- and second-year professional players, and unsigned draft choices, are exempt from selection by Vegas and do not have to be protected.

Vegas must select at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies, with a minimum of 20 players under contract for the 2017-18 season. The value of the salaries must be at least 60 percent of this season's NHL salary cap (about $43.8 million).

Vegas also can sign any restricted or unrestricted free agent left unprotected by his team from June 18-20. 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.

The Golden Knights will have the same odds in the NHL Draft Lottery as the team with the third-best chances of winning the No. 1 pick.

"We're going to try and find the best player we can," McPhee said. "It's not about whether he steps in [immediately] or is ready in three years. It's how good is he going to be in relation to all the other players that are available, if he's going to be a top NHL player. When he's ready is more up to him than up to us."

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