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Las Vegas name, logo unveiling 'an important day'

Director of player personnel Vaughn Karpan discusses road toward becoming 31st NHL team

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- Las Vegas director of player personnel Vaughn Karpan will be watching along with many other hockey fans when the franchise's nickname and logo are unveiled during a public event at Toshiba Plaza, outside the team's home, T-Mobile Arena, on Tuesday (8:30 p.m. ET; NHLN).

It's another stop on the road toward Las Vegas debuting as the 31st team in the NHL next season.

"I think it's an important day in our history," Karpan said. "We've been moving along here without a name and I think it's been frustrating for [owner Bill] Foley. I think for our fans … it can give us a brand officially. That's exciting."

Karpan was watching the Tampa Bay Lightning play the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on Saturday, just another stop on a long road this season.

Prior to taking the job with Las Vegas, Karpan had been a scout for the Montreal Canadiens since 2005, and their director of professional scouting since 2015. He's also worked as a scout for the Winnipeg Jets/Phoenix Coyotes franchise. 

But none of that has prepared him for what his new job has entailed. 

"It's a clean slate," he said. "You're looking at a lot of moving parts that you really don't have that much control over to a large extent. It's starting from scratch. It's unlike anything else. You're trying to put together a good foundation. You're still evaluating players, you're still trying to build a team. But you're starting from ground zero, which is unique."

Video: George McPhee on being named the GM of Las Vegas

Unique, but fun. Karpan called the process mentally stimulating. 

"We have to compile a ghost depth chart of players we might get," he said. "It's unique. You make a trade, you're trading for a guy compared to a guy you have. But we don't have anybody. That's quite unique."

Karpan said he and his scouts are evaluating all players in the League, but spending extra time following players they believe could be available to them in the expansion draft. 

"There's certain players in the game you'd love to have but you're never going to get them," he said. "There's those core players you're not getting. You sort of push them aside. You're aware of them, you evaluate them, but objectively speaking we're not getting them. We target certain segments of the roster that has a reasonable chance of being available.

Determining which players could be available, however, has proven to be a bit of a moving target. 

"The thing you learn is that players change every day," he said. "Who you think teams might want to protect and who teams think they may want to protect. It's continually evolving. Young players are surpassing expectations and veteran players or mature players are not meeting it. It's a cap era and everybody is trying to make pieces fit. If you're one of the member clubs out there now they're going to try to protect as many of their assets as they can."

Karpan said he's traveling more than he has in previous seasons, and he's in constant communication with his scouts and updating their list of potential players available. 

"We talk a lot," he said. "I would say we're talking on a monthly basis now, recalibrating our lists. We're at almost 20 games now so that's kind of a watershed. It'll be another 20 games here shortly, so 40 games, midterms. It's probably every 4-6 weeks we get together. But we talk every day."

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