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Expansion Draft

Expansion Mock Draft: Petr Mrazek, Antti Raanta to Golden Knights

NHL.com's Pete Jensen believes Vegas will focus on goaltending, build assets for potential trades

by Pete Jensen @NHLJensen / NHL.com Senior Fantasy Editor

Each of the 30 NHL teams submitted its list of protected players on Saturday for the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. The Vegas Golden Knights, the League's 31st team, have until 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday to make their picks for the NHL Expansion Draft.

The Golden Knights will select 30 players, one from each team. Vegas must take a minimum of 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies. At least 20 of the players must already be under contract for next season. Vegas must select players whose average annual salaries add up to at least $43.8 million, or 60 percent of the $73 million salary cap that was in place for this season.

Before the Golden Knights announce their picks during the 2017 NHL Awards and NHL Expansion Draft presented by T-Mobile in Las Vegas on Wednesday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN), NHL.com Senior Fantasy Editor Pete Jensen reveals who he would have Vegas take (cap charges according to CapFriendly.com):

 

[RELATED: Tom Gulitti's Expansion Mock Draft | Dan Rosen's Expansion Mock Draft]

 

GOALIES (4):

Marc-Andre Fleury (Pittsburgh Penguins; cap charge: $5.75 M): Fleury was 6-1 during the Stanley Cup Playoffs when facing 35 or more shots. He also had two shutouts, including one in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Second Round. The 32-year-old is equipped to be the Golden Knights' starter and help groom a younger goalie as his potential successor. He's also a model citizen, popular in the locker room and brings instant credibility as a three-time Stanley Cup winner.

Video: OTT@PIT, Gm2: Fleury robs Turris through traffic

Petr Mrazek (Detroit Red Wings; cap charge: $4 M): It was a surprise to see Mrazek on the list of unprotected players considering he's 25 and one year removed from a strong season (27 wins, .921 save percentage, four shutouts in 2015-16). He also has a .931 save percentage and three shutouts in 10 postseason starts. Yes, he's coming off a poor season, but a change of scenery could be just what he needs. Mrazek has one season left on his contract and can become a restricted free agent after next season.

Michal Neuvirth (Philadelphia Flyers; cap charge: $2.35 M): The Golden Knights can select players in the expansion draft and then trade them; with a newly signed two-year contract at an affordable salary-cap number, Neuvirth could be a potential chip. He has played more than 40 games in a season once in his NHL career but could be a reliable backup for a contender, as indicated by his relief work for the Flyers in the 2016 playoffs against the Washington Capitals. Vegas could try to stockpile proven goalies in addition to Fleury for potential trades.

Antti Raanta (New York Rangers; cap charge: $1 M): Raanta has been one of the NHL's best backup goaltenders for the past two seasons and probably deserves a shot to be a starter; it's the same scenario faced by Cam Talbot, who was traded by the Rangers to the Edmonton Oilers in 2015. Whether Raanta's opportunity comes with the Golden Knights or with a different team is another question. After a solid performance behind Henrik Lundqvist (16-8-2, 2.26 goals-against average, .922 save percentage, four shutouts in 30 games) and one year remaining on a low-cost contract, Raanta looks like he's ready for bigger things.

Video: NYR@NJD: Raanta gobbles up Moore's snap shot

 

FORWARDS (17):

James Neal (Nashville Predators; cap charge: $5 M): Since 2011-12, Neal ranks 14th in the NHL in goals (165 in 398 games). The 29-year-old has scored at least 21 goals in each of his nine NHL seasons and figures to fit into a top-line, first power-play role with the Golden Knights. It's tough to pass on Predators center Colton Sissons, but Neal is by far the best goal-scorer available and brings little risk with one year left on his contract.

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

Mikkel Boedker (San Jose Sharks; cap charge: $4 M): Boedker has three years remaining on his contract and would give the Golden Knights a speedy forward with power-play skills. The 27-year-old struggled and played mostly bottom-six minutes in San Jose, but is one season removed from 51 points (17 goals, 34 assists) when he played on the first power-play unit for the Arizona Coyotes. A new team could revitalize his career, and Boedker's cap hit and length of contract would ensure Vegas exceeds the salary cap floor for the next few seasons.

David Perron (St. Louis Blues; cap charge: $3.75 M): There are some younger forward options available from St. Louis, including Magnus Paajarvi and Dmitrij Jaskin, but Perron is a more seasoned offensive player who can help immediately as a top-nine forward. Perron was the Blues' fifth-leading scorer this season with 46 points (18 goals, 28 assits) and carries a moderate cap hit for a forward who blends physicality with offensive ability. Perron, like Neal, has a modified no-trade clause and has one year remaining on his contract.

Video: STL@LAK: Perron pokes home loose puck to open scoring

Jamie McGinn (Arizona Coyotes; cap charge: $3.3 M): McGinn, 28, is a serviceable second- or third-line forward who has two years remaining on his contract. The Golden Knights would be smart to select a few under-30 forwards with grit and scoring ability. McGinn, like Boedker, fits the bounce-back category after finishing this season with 17 points (nine goals, eight assists) in 72 games. He was productive with the Buffalo Sabres and Anaheim Ducks in 2015-16, finishing with 22 goals and 39 points in 84 games.

Matt Stajan (Calgary Flames; cap charge: $3.125 M): Stajan, 33, has a modified no-trade clause and one year remaining on his contract. He would be a viable depth center for Vegas with a manageable cap hit and no long-term commitment. Stajan is likely the best player available to Vegas from the Flames and was one of 47 players League-wide who won more than 50 percent of his faceoffs among those with at least 700 attempts this season. He's closing in on his 1,000th NHL game (935).

Trevor Lewis (Los Angeles Kings; cap charge: $2 M): Lewis helped the Kings win the Stanley Cup in 2012 and 2014, and he'd give Vegas an adequate depth center to grind with the Pacific Division teams. Lewis scored an NHL career-high 12 goals this season and carries an affordable cap hit for the next three seasons. The 30-year-old would also fill a veteran leadership role after spending his first nine NHL seasons in Los Angeles.

Video: CGY@LAK: Lewis wires quick shot past Gillies

Joakim Nordstrom (Carolina Hurricanes; cap charge: $1.275 M): Nordstrom played all 82 games for Carolina this season as a top-nine forward. The 25-year-old's exposure to possession-based systems with the Chicago Blackhawks and Hurricanes could give the Golden Knights a valuable third- or fourth-line lift for a cheap cost.

William Karlsson (Columbus Blue Jackets; cap charge: $1 M): Karlsson performed well in his first taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, scoring three points with 12 shots and a plus-4 rating in the Blue Jackets' five-game loss to the Penguins. He's a solid two-way forward with some untapped offensive ability and could compete for the No. 2 center job in Vegas.

Kerby Rychel (Toronto Maple Leafs; cap charge: $863,333): Rychel, 22, was exposed by the young, talent-stacked Maple Leafs and could be useful to the Golden Knights. He had 52 points (19 goals, 33 assists) in 73 regular-season games and five points (two goals, three assists) in 11 playoff games for the Toronto Marlies of the American Hockey League this season. Rychel was selected by Columbus with the 19th pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.

Brendan Gaunce (Vancouver Canucks; RFA): There's not a ton of talent available from the Canucks. Gaunce, 23, played 57 NHL games this season and could still be a late bloomer in the right spot. He would likely continue his development in the AHL as a potential depth center.

Marko Dano (Winnipeg Jets; cap charge: $850,000): Dano, 22, is a high-upside prospect who has been traded for bigger names such as forwards Brandon Saad and Andrew Ladd already during his career. The Jets left Dano unprotected and the Golden Knights would gladly give him a chance to earn a second- or third-line role.

Jonathan Marchessault (Florida Panthers; cap charge: $750,000): Marchessault was one of the biggest surprises in the NHL this season, taking advantage of injuries to Panthers forwards Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau to score 30 goals and prove he can fill a top-six role. With one year left on his contract, Marchessault should get plenty of power-play time and have a chance to build on his impressive season.  

Video: MTL@FLA: Marchessault stays patient to pot 30th goal

William Carrier (Buffalo Sabres; cap charge: $689,167): Carrier is a high-energy prospect who had some flashes of potential; he had eight points (five goals, three assists) in 41 games with the Sabres this season. At 22, his potential outweighs the risk of committing to an expensive veteran. Carrier could work his way onto the Golden Knights as early as this season.

Jujhar Khaira (Edmonton Oilers; $675,000): Khaira signed a two-year contract with the Oilers on Friday but was left unprotected. He has 25 games of NHL experience during the past two seasons. Rather than investing long-term in depth forwards like Benoit Pouliot, Khaira is a more cost-effective flier.

Logan Shaw (Anaheim Ducks; cap charge: $650,000): If the reported deal in place between Vegas and Anaheim involves the protection of reliable defensemen Sami Vatanen and Josh Manson, Shaw is a fairly safe bet to be the pick from the Ducks. Shaw, 24, played 55 regular-season games and nine playoff games this season. He's not a scorer but would provide added depth up front.

Mikhail Grigorenko (Colorado Avalanche; RFA): Grigorenko, taken by Buffalo with the 12th pick in the 2012 draft, got more opportunities to play in the top-nine in the past two seasons with the Avalanche than he did in three seasons with the Sabres. However, the constant line juggling and Colorado's struggles didn't allow him to settle in for long with centers Nathan MacKinnon or Matt Duchene. If Grigorenko plays 70 or more games for the third straight season, he could finally take a leap from the 20-point range to 35-40.

Video: COL@NJD: Grigorenko beats Schneider from the slot

Alexander Radulov (Montreal Canadiens; UFA): The Canadiens likely won't be able to offer Radulov as much money as the Golden Knights can, so Vegas would be bold to throw a contract of 3-5 years at him and offer a spot on the top line with Russian center Vadim Shipachyov. Radulov had 54 points (18 goals, 36 assists) this season, including 16 on the power play. Radulov, Shipachyov and Neal would be a dream first line for an expansion team.

 

DEFENSEMEN (9):

Marc Methot (Ottawa Senators; cap charge: $4.9 M): With Dion Phaneuf reportedly choosing to not waive his no-movement clause, the Senators were forced to expose captain Erik Karlsson's running mate on the top defense pair. This gives Vegas a chance to shore up its back end with a steady, left-handed defenseman. He would bring valuable experience to a young defense after helping the Senators reach Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

Matt Dumba (Minnesota Wild; cap charge: $2.55 M): Dumba has a big shot from the point and is a good fit to run the Golden Knights' first power-play unit. Forward Eric Staal and defenseman Marco Scandella are other intriguing unprotected options from the Wild, but Dumba is tied for 17th in goals among NHL defensemen during the past two seasons combined (21 in 157 games). He would take on a bigger role at even strength after playing in the shadow of workhorse Ryan Suter in Minnesota.

Video: MIN@DAL: Dumba snipes puck top shelf from the slot

Calvin de Haan (New York Islanders; RFA): The Islanders reportedly have a deal with Vegas to protect exposed forwards like Brock Nelson and Ryan Strome in exchange for a first-round pick, and New York's decision to protect Adam Pelech instead of de Haan may indicate they are fine with losing the latter to the Golden Knights. De Haan, 26, is an underrated puck-moving defenseman who finished with 25 points (five goals, 20 assists) and was plus-15 in 82 games this season. He also played well for Canada's silver medal-winning team at the IIHF World Championship.

Jake Dotchin (Tampa Bay Lightning; RFA): Dotchin had 11 assists and was plus-10 in 35 NHL games, and then had six assists in 19 playoff games for Syracuse of the AHL. He might be the best 23-and-under defenseman available to Vegas and stands out as the best asset available from Tampa Bay's unprotected list.

Jon Merrill (New Jersey Devils; cap charge: $1.1375 M): The forwards made available by the Devils don't have much goal-scoring pop outside of Michael Cammalleri, whose contract runs for two more seasons at $5 million per year. The safer bet is to invest in Merrill; the 25-year-old has 216 games of NHL experience and still has time to improve.

Colin Miller (Boston Bruins; cap charge: $1 M): Miller scored 13 points (six goals, seven assists) in 61 games for the Bruins during the regular season and excelled in advanced metrics during the postseason. His 56.78 SAT percentage in the four playoff games he played led all Bruins skaters, and his average time on ice (15:33) would be increased with the Golden Knights. He would be fine as a third-pair defenseman and could grow beyond that.

Trevor van Riemsdyk (Chicago Blackhawks; cap charge: $825,000): As a third-pair defenseman this season, the 25-year-old was plus-17, second among Chicago defensemen behind Duncan Keith (plus-22). The Blackhawks are struggling to stay under the salary cap and were forced to expose van Riemsdyk to the Golden Knights. He could find himself on the second pair with Vegas.

Video: CHI@DAL: van Riemsdyk pushes a rebound past Lehtonen

Jamie Oleksiak (Dallas Stars; RFA): Oleksiak, 24, has yet to live up to his potential, but at 6-foot-7 and 255 pounds, he's an interesting long-term project. He scored an NHL career-high five goals in 41 games with the Stars this season, and could be used as a depth defenseman. He was taken by the Stars with the 14th pick in the 2011 NHL Draft.

Nate Schmidt (Washington Capitals; RFA): Schmidt showed his offensive ability during the past two seasons with the Capitals, combining for 33 points (eight goals, 25 assist) and a plus-34 rating in 132 NHL games. Schmidt's postseason production (four points, plus-6 in 11 games) was a bright spot. Vegas general manager George McPhee is likely to take Schmidt or backup goalie Philipp Grubauer from his former team.

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