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Expansion Draft

Marc-Andre Fleury, James Neal among best available for Golden Knights

NHL.com looks at top options by position for Vegas in Expansion Draft

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee has a lot to digest before he submits his list of 30 selections in the NHL Expansion Draft by 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday.

Those selections will be revealed at the 2017 NHL Awards and NHL Expansion Draft presented by T-Mobile in Las Vegas on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN).

The Golden Knights received the list of protected and available players for the expansion draft from the other 30 teams Sunday.

 

[RELATED: Expansion Draft Buzz | Expansion Draft protected list revealed]

 

After sifting through the list of 673 available players, here are our choices for the top five goaltenders, defensemen, forwards and special-teams players available for the Golden Knights:

 

GOALTENDERS

Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins: Fleury, 32, is the best goalie available for Vegas, having just had a big hand (nine playoff wins) in helping the Penguins win the Stanley Cup for the second straight season. 

Video: OTT@PIT, Gm2: Fleury shuts down Dzingel in close

 

Roberto Luongo, Florida Panthers: He's 38, but Luongo made 39 starts for the Panthers this season and has a pedigree that would be a positive influence well outside the goal crease.

 

Antti Raanta, New York Rangers: With 16 wins this season as Henrik Lundqvist's backup, is the 28-year-old reprising the story of Cam Talbot, who now starts for the Edmonton Oilers?

 

Jonathan Bernier, Anaheim Ducks: Bernier, 28, can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, but has proven more than capable of taking the net and providing quality goaltending in a pinch.

Video: ANA@NSH, Gm6: Bernier stones Fiddler's backhander

 

Brian Elliott, Calgary Flames: Elliott, 32, had brilliant and forgettable moments this season, but was good enough to get the Flames to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and that kind of goaltending is hard to find. He can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

 

DEFENSEMEN

Josh Manson, Anaheim Ducks: Manson, 25, has blossomed with a great combination of skating, puck moving and using his 6-foot-3, 215-pound frame to force opponents to pay the price.

Video: NSH@ANA, Gm5: Manson lays a heavy hit on McLeod

 

Karl Alzner, Washington Capitals: Alzner will be 29 when next season starts and has been a key part of a Stanley Cup Playoff team the past seven seasons. Can you ever have too much of that kind of experience?

 

Matt Dumba, Minnesota Wild: Dumba, 22, was one of 15 defensemen in the League this season with at least 30 points (34), a plus-15 rating and 20 minutes of ice time per game (20:19). He's the only one of them available in the expansion draft.

Video: OTT@MIN: Dumba launches a PPG past Anderson

 

Sami Vatanen, Anaheim Ducks: With skills and offensive upside, Vatanen, 26, merits serious consideration in this expansion process.

 

Marc Methot, Ottawa Senators: The physical Methot, who turns 32 on Wednesday, has carved an effective career out of being hard to play against.

 

FORWARDS

James Neal, Nashville Predators: Goaltenders and goal-scorers are the most difficult players for expansion teams to find, so the 29-year-old Neal and his run of nine straight 20-plus-goal seasons is an attractive asset.

Video: PIT@NSH, Gm3: Neal banks puck in off Murray's glove

 

T.J. Oshie, Washington Capitals: Oshie, 30, had an NHL career-best 33 goals this season. He can become an unrestricted free agent July 1, but his offensive talents would be difficult to find elsewhere.

 

Eric Staal, Minnesota Wild: Staal, 32, rebounded in a big way this season with 28 goals, his most in six seasons.

Video: MIN@ARI: Staal nets one-timer from circle for PPG

 

Michael Grabner, New York Rangers: The NHL is all about speed, and Grabner, 29, might skate faster than any player in the League. He had 27 goals this season, 26 at even strength.

 

Alexander Radulov, Montreal Canadiens: Radulov, 30, is a creative playmaker and a threat to score just about every time he's on the ice, hard-to-find qualities that always have opponents on high alert.

 

SPECIALISTS

Marcus Kruger, C, Chicago Blackhawks: Kruger, 27, led Blackhawks forwards in average shorthanded ice time per game at 2:13, and succeeds because of his agility and anticipation.

Video: CHI@COL: Kruger beats Pickard on a breakaway

 

Nick Bonino, C, Pittsburgh Penguins: A fearless shot-blocker, Bonino, 29, also has the speed that allows him to jump plays at the point and create shorthanded scoring opportunities. He'll be an unrestricted free agent July 1.

 

Kevin Shattenkirk, D, Washington Capitals: A noted power-play specialist, his 27 power-play points was tied with Erik Karlsson of the Ottawa Senators for second in the League among defensemen. Shattenkirk, 28, can be an unrestricted free agent July 1 after being one of the most sought-after players prior to the 2017 NHL Trade Deadline.

Video: WSH@PIT, Gm3: Shattenkirk nets PPG for OT win

 

Patrick Marleau, LW, San Jose Sharks: Coming off a 27-goal season, including seven on the power play, Marleau's track record of fitting the scheme and delivering results with the man-advantage enhances the value of the 37-year-old veteran. He can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

 

Thomas Vanek, LW, Florida Panthers: No NHL player has been more proficient at shootouts since 2010-11 (minimum 20 attempts) than Vanek, 33, with a 60.6 percent success rate (20 goals on 33 attempts).

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