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Armchair GM

by Scott Burnside @OvertimeScottB /

In an office complex in Summerlin, Nevada, about a 20-minute drive west from the Las Vegas Strip, Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee and his staff are set to make history as they select the players that will make up the initial roster of the expansion Golden Knights.

The expansion draft process, which will be unveiled as part of the NHL's annual awards festival in Las Vegas on June 21, has been discussed and dissected for months now as the league moves to 31 teams with its first expansion in almost 20 years.

McPhee will have myriad options at his fingertips, as he'll be able to take on unwanted salaries in exchange for other assets, take additional draft picks or players in exchange for not taking a specific unprotected player, as well as approach restricted and unrestricted free agents about signing them to new deals.

Given all the fluidity involved, here's a look at how the expansion draft might look on a team-by-team basis.

Anaheim Ducks: F Jakob Silfverberg; Ducks GM Bob Murray may try and move at least one of his top young defensive assets in the hopes of keeping the talented Silfverberg or trade Silfverberg himself, but the bottom line is the Ducks are the victims of their own terrific drafting and depth and McPhee and others may be the beneficiaries.

Arizona Coyotes: G Mike Smith; Have to figure the Coyotes will protect young netminder Louis Domingue and McPhee must spend some money to get to the salary cap floor. Smith, whose name has recently surfaced in trade talk, has one year left on his deal and is 35. McPhee's other option, especially if he ends up with Marc-Andre Fleury as his starter (see below), may be to try and ink one of the Coyotes' many restricted free agents like Anthony Duclair, whose evolution has hit a speed bump in the desert.

Boston Bruins: G Macolm Subban; The Bruins don't have an exposed list that is going to give Vegas too many options but look for McPhee to load up on goalies given their value both in-house and as trade bait as time moves along. Defenseman Adam McQuaid could also be an option.

Buffalo Sabres: F Tyler Ennis; The bloom is off the rose for the former 26th overall draft pick but if he can stay healthy, he'd add speed and skill to the Golden Knights' lineup.

Calgary Flames: F Troy Brouwer; Three more years on Brouwer's contract at $4.5 million per season is a mouthful but Brouwer is well-known to McPhee, who brought the rugged winger to Washington back in 2011. Brouwer would also fulfill a leadership role, which will be key in an expansion locker room.

Carolina Hurricanes: F Lee Stempniak; The affable forward may end up putting another notch in his NHL belt (he's already suited up for 10 different NHL teams) and the 'Canes have tons of young talent that doesn't need to be protected. It's possible GM Ron Francis will add a player like a Silfverberg or Matt Duchene that could have a ripple effect on the expansion draft.

Chicago Blackhawks: D Trevor van Riemsdyk; Blackhawks have little wiggle room with their veteran core which includes defenders Brent Seabrook and Duncan Keith, unless one of those pieces is moved in the days before the expansion draft. Van Riemsdyk would be a nice add to a young blue line corps in Vegas.

Colorado Avalanche: F Mikhail Grigorenko; Like pretty much everyone connected with the Colorado Avalanche, things haven't gone well for the former 12th overall pick in 2012. He's a restricted free agent, but the Golden Knights could offer the 24-year-old a new start and inject some skillful promise into the lineup. Forward Carl Soderberg could be another option for Vegas.

Columbus Blue Jackets: F William Karlsson; Many observers figure McPhee will nab promising young netminder Joonas Korpisalo who was just signed to a new deal and it may turn out to be the case, but we like Karlsson's up-side and ability to play up and down Gerard Gallant's lineup.

Dallas Stars: F Cody Eakin; We wrestled with Eakin and defenseman Stephen Johns. Johns, who is younger, 25, and a right-handed shot makes him an attractive asset, especially for the Stars who need defensive depth and are looking at a very thin free agent market. Eakin, 26, is familiar to McPhee having been drafted by him in Washington and he's got two years left on a deal with a $3.85 million cap hit and can play up and down the lineup. The wild card in this is how the Stars view Valeri Nichushkin, who is back in Russia. If the team feels the 22-year-old, former 10th overall pick will return anytime soon he'll be protected. If not then he could be exposed in favor of Eakin.

Detroit Red Wings: F Riley Sheahan; Lots of intrigue around the Red Wings. Is it possible they expose a veteran like Henrik Zetterberg and/or Nicklas Kronwall? Veteran netminder Jimmy Howard will also likely be available. We're guessing the safe pick is Sheahan who has just one more year left on his current deal.

Edmonton Oilers: F Jujhar Khaira; Edmonton GM Peter Chiarelli could add some prospect incentive to get Vegas to take Benoit Pouliot off their hands or McPhee could take a run at UFA defender Kris Russell if Russell doesn't re-up with the Oilers, but our guess is he goes young with the 22-year-old Khaira.

Florida Panthers: D Alex Petrovic; Another right-handed shot defenseman for the Golden Knights and just 25 years of age.

Los Angeles Kings: D Brayden McNabb; Lots of speculation about whether the Golden Knights could be persuaded to take on former Kings captain Dustin Brown and his gargantuan contract that runs through 2021-22 at a $5.875 million annual cap hit. Don't see it happening unless the Kings throw in the kitchen sink.

Minnesota Wild: D Jonas Brodin; Like the Ducks, the Wild are facing tough decisions given their depth along the blue line and players who need to be protected because of no-movement clauses. Sleeper pick for the Golden Knights could be Jason Zucker, who played youth hockey in Las Vegas as GM Chuck Fletcher may choose to move one of his defensemen before the expansion draft.

Montreal Canadiens: F Tomas Plekanec; Another higher-priced veteran that will help the Golden Knights get to the salary cap floor and provide emotional ballast in the room.

Nashville Predators: F James Neal; The popular thinking is that Calle Jarnkrok or another forward goes but did hear a suggestion that Neal, who has one year left on his deal, could be made available and would instantly become the Golden Knights' most dangerous offensive player. He also becomes a valuable trade deadline asset for McPhee.

New Jersey Devils: F Devante Smith-Pelley; A big body to compete for a bottom six forward role in Vegas.

New York Islanders: D Calvin de Haan; McPhee spent time scouting for the Isles after being fired in Washington and before signing on with the expansion Golden Knights so he knows the team well, which could mean a trade for prospects to lay off the popular de Haan.

New York Rangers: G Antti Raanta; If McPhee opts for Fleury and Philipp Grubauer in Washington then maybe it's defenseman Nick Holden, but Raanta has the goods to be an NHL starter and will have value moving forward either as a player in Vegas or as a trade asset.

Ottawa Senators: D Marc Methot; Solid, minute-munching defender will also bring leadership to the Golden Knights' room. Watch for veteran defender Dion Phaneuf who will alter the equation in Ottawa vis a vis whether Methot is protected or exposed, if Phaneuf agrees to waive his no-move clause.

Philadelphia Flyers: F Scott Laughton; The development of the 20th overall pick in 2012 has been slow, but he's just 22 and a nice option for Vegas. Matt Read and Jordan Weal are also names being bandied about in terms of an option out of Philadelphia.

Pittsburgh Penguins: G Marc-Andre Fleury; Reports surfaced hours after Fleury won his third Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh that he had agreed to waive his no-move clause and will be exposed in the expansion draft. Maybe GM Jim Rutherford has a side deal cooking that would see Fleury remain in Pittsburgh, but Fleury wants to be a starter and that's not happening in Pittsburgh. But it could happen in Vegas and/or somewhere Fleury would be willing to go like Calgary.

St. Louis Blues: G Carter Hutton; Another netminder who has shown glimpses of having the stuff of an NHL starter.

San Jose Sharks: F Joel Ward; A great character guy who has proven himself to be a clutch playoff performer. Entering the final year of his deal, Ward could be flipped for more assets at the trade deadline. He's also a player well known to McPhee.

Tampa Bay Lightning: F Vladislav Namestnikov; With the emergence of young Jake Dotchin on the blue line, it's possible a veteran like Anton Stralman might be available but if not look for the versatile 24-year-old Namestnikov to be a good option.

Toronto Maple Leafs: F Eric Fehr; The veteran center, who won a Stanley Cup with Pittsburgh in 2016, has one more year left on his current contract and is a player McPhee knows will be an instant leader in the locker room from their shared time in Washington.

Vancouver Canucks: F Brenden Gaunce; A 23-year-old restricted free agent, Gaunce looks to be one of a small group of expendable forwards in the Vancouver organization that could be attractive to Vegas.

Washington Capitals: D Nate Schmidt; The popular theory is netminder Philipp Grubauer will get a chance to be the starter in Vegas given McPhee's knowledge of the top prospect. But the Fleury news changes that dynamic and the emergence of Schmidt as a smooth-skating, able puck-mover suggests the happy-go-lucky Schmidt could become a top four defender in Vegas.

Winnipeg Jets: F Mathieu Perreault; The veteran forward has a four-year deal that kicks in starting in the fall at a manageable $4.125 million annually and would help on the power play and fill in as a top nine forward. He's also a player drafted by McPhee, although the signing of restricted free agent forward Marko Dano to a one-year deal this week may mean Perreault stays a Jet and Dano heads to the desert.

This story was not subject to approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. You can follow Scott on Twitter @OvertimeScottB

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