The Vegas Golden Knights officially have released their selections in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. What a day for hockey history. Mr. Foley and his $500M now have enough players to ice an NHL team (surprisingly only two players were signed before the expansion draft, which lead to superb videos like THIS).
In the salary cap era starting a team from scratch is an enviable luxury. Utilizing the NHL’s most lucrative item, Cap Space, and the expansion draft the Golden Knights were able to have the upper hand in trade discussions with almost every team. George McPhee could, after all, just simply select any unprotected player from all 30 teams. He was however wise to listen to offers to sway the Knights from picking players on teams with deep rosters (see Anaheim, Minnesota).
Montreal was in a tough spot. They clearly were not sure which defenseman to protect, so they traded Nathan Beaulieu for a bag of magic beans (questionable at best). In keeping Weber, Petry and Jordie Benn, our favourite pylon: Alexei Emelin was left exposed to the world. However, having the contract he does ($4.1M for the next season) it seemed unlikely he’d be taken (as nice as that would be). His heavy cap hit, along with that of Tomas Plekanec, had people wondering if Marc Bergevin would sweeten the pot for one of them to be taken, maybe sending a few picks or a prospect to Vegas. In freeing up some of their cap space, Marc could re-sign Radulov and Galchenyuk, maybe even Markov. Paying the price to get that number off our cap would be worth it.
Here comes the good part. I had been following the selection rumors for a few days (Pierre Lebrun being the most helpful) as best I could from the depths of Spain. Every once in a while I’d see Emelin mentioned, usually with a second round pick or so. These articles would bring me such joy, especially seeing as Charles Hudon was also exposed (I’ve made my thoughts on that prospect very clear already). I was loving that Bergevin was trying to lose that salary and protect our best prospect.
Things got even better one hour before the Draft began.
In the age of social media, this could only have meant one thing: Alexei Emelin was headed to the Golden Knights.
As you can all imagine I have never experienced such joy! No matter the price paid, Emelin and that contract were gone!
Two hours later my life had changed forever.
George McPhee had taken Emelin free of charge.
I’ll repeat that so you understand.
The Vegas Golden Knights looked at the entire list of exposed players in Montreal (including Charles Hudon) and decided the best available player was Alexei Emelin.
Since George McPhee did us a solid favour, I would love to send him a token of gratitude.
So what is it, red or white Mr. McPhee?
Wondering what on earth Emelin’s value is for an expansion team?
Update: McPhee is looking for a Hudon-type prospect in a trade for EMELIN. So the question remains: Why not draft HUDON in the first place?