Projected Vegas Golden Knights Team and Expansion Draft Predictions

The next few weeks will be interesting in hockey.  For the first time since 2000, the NHL is expanding.  The Las Vegas Golden Knights are being formed, and will become the NHL’s 31st team. Vegas will select one player from each NHL franchise immediately following the NHL Awards on June 21st, 2017.

Notably, we have based our predictions somewhat off the best player available to Las Vegas from an Advanced Bracton (AB) score standpoint.  The AB score is a proprietary measure of a player’s propensity to either make or prevent mistakes on the ice, thereby allowing or preventing goals.  It is our strong assertion that preventing a goal has the same effect as scoring one.   Not only have we quantified the rigor of this statement, we have also proven its voracity.  We think there are already 175 players in the league that are not NHL caliber players and expansion only dilutes the talent pool further.  This article will show that Las Vegas may be able to construct a team that can compete at an NHL level as a result.  Amazingly, an agglomeration of some of the “worst players” left exposed by the NHL expansion draft rules may still prove to be better than a handful of teams who have had decades to construct their franchises.  Hmmm.

Further, this article represents a complete analysis of every NHL team in which we break down who is exposed to the draft, what option a team will likely choose to protect players, which player in our mind will become an inaugural Vegas Knight, their salary impact, and an explanation of how we arrived at our conclusion.  Amazingly, if Las Vegas approximates what we surmise are possible outcomes, they might finish as high as 12th in the conference in their first season.  Let that sink in Canuck, Avalanche, and Coyote fans…….

Before we dive into our predictions and picks, we will first explain some basic rules of the expansion draft.

1.  Vegas will select 1 member from each team (30 total) and must be above the salary floor and below the salary cap like the other 30 teams for the 23 players that eventually make the team.

2. The 30 teams will have two options for protecting players (7 forwards, 3 defenseman and 1 goalie) or (8 skaters and 1 goalie).

3. Teams must protect all players with no trade/no movement clauses (unless the player decides to waive his clause by the deadline).

4. All 1st year and 2nd year players (Note= 2nd year players are players entering their 3rd year such as McDavid or Eichel) are exempt from the draft and don’t need to be on team’s required protection lists. Also certain players with career ending injuries are exempt such as Chris Pronger (ARI) and Nathan Horton (TOR) and do not need to be protected.

5. Vegas MUST select 14 forwards, 9 defenseman, and 3 goalies and a minimum of 20 of those players must be under contract for the 2017-18 season.

For more information and the official expansion draft rules go read’s official expansion draft rules article at this link  Please note that we are basing these predictions off of’s list of no movement/no trade clause players (

Additionally, we didn’t protect any players that will be Unrestricted Free Agents on July 1st because we cannot opine on the merit of negotiating with a UFA for only 10 days before free agency starts, even though we acknowledge the possibility (although why wouldn’t Las Vegas simply select a player from a team and then indicate UFA interest 10 days later?). Lastly, the 2017-18 NHL salary cap is $75 million and the salary floor $45 million. However we expose/protect RFA’s on each team, and have Vegas within these parameters with 30 players, not just the 23 who will be on the roster next season.  These players, in our opinion include:


Exposed= Sami Vatanen, Josh Manson, Jared Boll, Jonathan Bernier

Option=7 forwards 3 defenseman 1 goalie

Vegas Selection=Sami Vatanen (D) Salary=4.45 million – (+0.64 AB)

Explanation: With Bieksa having a NMC, the Ducks have to protect either Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Josh Manson, or Sami Vatanen. Anaheim could protect 4 of them using the 8 skaters 1 goalie option; however doing so would mean that they would need to expose Richard Rakell (who has a tremendously high AB). Therefore, unless Anaheim convinces Bieksa to waive his NMC or make a trade after the finals, they will likely lose one of their best defenseman to Vegas.


Exposed= Luke Schenn, Peter Holland, Louis Domingue

Option= 8 skaters 1 goalie

Vegas Selection=Luke Schenn (D) Salary=1.25 million – (-5.47 AB)

Explanation: There aren’t many options here for Vegas mainly due to the fact that most of Arizona’s team is exempt. Schenn’s AB is lower quartile league wide; however we are predicting that McPhee wants to stockpile defenseman for trade bait and will take as many as possible.  Schenn therefore may not be a Knight next year……but would anyone else want him?

Exposed= Dominic Moore, Colin Miller, Kevan Miller, Jimmy Hayes, John-Michael Liles

Option= 7 forwards 3 defenseman 1 goalie

Vegas Selection= Jimmy Hayes (RW) Salary=2.3 million – AB -1.27

Explanation=Given the dearth of RW’s available to Las Vegas, veterans like Hayes that can potentially help young prospects or players in the future are at a premium.


Exposed= Evander Kane, Marcus Foligno, Zach Bogosian, Dmitry Kulikov, Tyler Ennis, Cody Franson, Derek Grant, Nicholas Deslauriers.

Option= 7 forwards 3 defenseman 1 goalie

Vegas Selection= Evander Kane (LW) Salary= 6 million – AB -8.99

Explanation= Watching Las Vegas pick from Buffalo will be a good indicator of the philosophy of general management regarding the value they place on mistake minimization.  Sure, it’s tempting to take Kane and his 28 goals.  However, his -8.99 AB means he’s really only a 19 goal scorer and therefore Marcus Foligno at a +3.39 AB is a much more conservative option.  Vegas would be giving Buffalo a gift by selecting Kane….let’s see what happens.


Exposed= Mikael Backlund, Michael Ferlund, Lance Bouma, Derek England,

Option= 8 skaters 1 goalie

Vegas Selection= Michael Backlund +1.18AB Salary=3.5 million

Explanation= Calgary should be exposing Dougie Hamilton, but they won’t.  We find this sacrilegious to all things Bracton.  So instead, we have CGY exposing another excellent 50 point player like Backlund.  That’s what makes a market.


Exposed=Phil DiGiuseppe, Matt Tennyson, Eddie Lack, Lee Stempniak

Option=7 forwards 3 defenseman 1 goalie

Vegas Selection= Lee Stempniak Salary=2.5 million +0.80 AB

Explanation= There are better goalies out there than Lack and Stempniak is the best remaining option.


Exposed= Marcus Kruger, Michael Rozival, Richard Panik, Jordin Tootoo, Andrew Desjardins

Option= 7 forwards 3 defenseman 1 goalie

Vegas Selection= Marcus Kruger (C) Salary= 3.83 million AB -2.49

Explanation= Vegas will probably want to go younger than older but it could possibly be a toss-up between Panik and Kruger.


Exposed=Fedor Tyutin, Patrick Wiercioch, Blake Comeau, Calvin Pickard, Eric Gelinas, Gabriel Bourque, Cody Goloubef, Mark Barberio

Option=7 forwards, 3 defenseman, 1 goalie

Vegas Selection= Calvin Pickard (G) Salary= 1 million

Explanation= Vegas probably want a skater on this disastrous team. Maybe with better defense in front of him, Pickard could be a decent backup maybe starter with a cheap contract.


Exposed= William Karlsson, Sam Gagner, Matt Calvert, David Savard, Jonas Korpisalo

Option=7 forwards 3 defenseman 1 goalie

Vegas Selection= Sam Gagner (C) Salary= 650k – AB +2.16

Explanation= It could go either way between Karlsson and Gagner, however Gagner is cheaper and more experienced. Also he had a nice offensive season scoring 50 points for Columbus.  His reward?  Welcome to Las Vegas, Sam.


Exposed= Kari Lehtonen, Antti Niemi, Patrick Nemeth, Juri Hudler, Lauri Korpikoski, Adam Cracknell

Option=7 forwards 3 defenseman 1 goalie

Vegas Selection= Antti Niemi (G) Salary= 4.45 million

Explanation= It will most likely be a goalie and Niemi is the better of the two. He will be Vegas’ starter next season unless they somehow get Marc-Andre Fleury


Exposed= Luke Glendening, Drew Miller, Riley Sheahan, Danny Dekeyser

Option= 7 forwards 3 defenseman 1 goalie

Vegas Selection= Luke Glendening (C) Salary= 1.8 million AB – 3.21

Explanation= Everyone available has terrible AB scores for Detroit however Glendening was the best of them (yikes). Vegas probably won’t take Sheahan over Glendening because he only scored 1 goal this year. Drew Miller is aging and Dekeyser is making 5 million per year.  Las Vegas says to Gary Bettman, ðo we have to take one of these guys?”


Exposed=Benoit Pouliot, Matt Hendricks, Kris Russell, Eric Gryba, David Desharnais

Option=7 forwards 3 defenseman 1 goalie

Vegas Selection= Benoit Pouliot (LW) Salary= 4 million – AB -2.35

Explanation= Since Edmonton isn’t offering anything better, Vegas will take a veteran LW. Pouliot might even play on the second or third line next season.


Exposed= Alex Petrovic (RFA), Mark Pysyk (RFA), Colton Sceviour

Option= 7 forwards 3 defenseman 1 goalie

Vegas Selection= Alex Petrovic (D) RFA AB – 3.46

Explanation= Again, McPhee won’t pass up on defenseman. Hopefully he can sign Petrovic. Even if he can’t sign him, Vegas will still receive compensatory draft picks for teams taking their RFA. It’s a safe pick for that reason.

Los Angeles

Exposed= Marian Gaborik, Alec Martinez, Trevor Lewis, Matt Greene

Option= 7 skaters 3 defenseman 1 goalie

Vegas selection= Marian Gaborik (RW) Salary=4.375 million – AB -2.86

Explanation= With Tyler Toffoli being a RFA, Los Angeles needs to expose big salaries put in place by former GM Dean Lombardi (which is why he is currently unemployed). By exposing Gaborik they create 4 million extra dollars to use in a Toffoli deal. Meanwhile Vegas gets a forward looking for a bounce back year who will play on their first line with Evander Kane and Vadim Shipachyov. It makes sense for both sides, unless Gaborik gets hurt……and what are the odds of that?


Exposed= Nino Niederrider, Jordan Schroeder, Erik Haula, Christian Folin, Chris Stewart, Ryan White, Jonas Brodin.

Option= 7 forwards 3 defenseman 1 goalie

Vegas Selection= Jonas Brodin (D) Salary= 4.16 million – AB -0.05

Explanation= Vegas already has a few RFA’s, and it could be a toss-up between Brodin and Niederrider. Again, McPhee won’t pass up on defenseman especially one as good as Brodin, especially with the length of his contract.  Editor’s note – MIN will be lucky not to lose Niederrider…..


Exposed= Nathan Beaulieu, Nikita Nesterov, Thomas Plekanec, Torrey Mitchell

Option= 7 forwards 3 defenseman, 1 goalie

Vegas Selection= Nathan Beaulieu (D) RFA – AB -1.15

Explanation= McPhee will take a young defenseman over Plekanec and his 6 million a year contract.


Exposed= Mike Ribero, Mattais Ekholm, Colton Sissons, Matt Irwin, Cody McLeod

Option= 7 forwards 3 defensemen 1 goalie. 

Vegas Selection= Mattais Ekholm (D) Salary=3.75 million – AB -0.88

Explanation= Unfortunately Nashville will have to expose one of Subban, Josi, Ellis, or Ekholm, if they go with the 7 forwards 3 defenseman 1 goalie option. If they chose the 8 skaters option, they will have to expose one of Johansen Forsberg, Jarnkrok, or Arvidsson (which they won’t do). Losing Ekholm makes the most sense unless Nashville makes some sort of deal with Vegas to prevent it.

New Jersey

Exposed= Dalton Prout, John Merrill, John Moore, Devante Smith-Pelly

Option=7 forwards 3 defenseman, 1 goalie

Vegas Selection= Devante Smith-Pelly (RW) Salary=1.3 million – AB -3.00

Explanation= The Devils had a terrible season but now have the first overall pick in the upcoming entry draft. Losing anyone on this team wouldn’t really hurt them (except for Taylor Hall and Kyle Palmieri). Vegas needs forwards at this point and Smith Pelly is the only one NJ exposed.

New York Islanders

Exposed= Jason Chimera, Dennis Seidenberg, Thomas Hickey, Jaroslav Halak, Josh Bailey

option= 7 forwards 3 defenseman 1 goalie

Vegas Selection= Dennis Seidenberg (D) Salary=1.25 million  AB +2.15

Explanation= Seidenberg is coming off what is arguably the best year of his career. He started as a UFA entering last September’s World Cup and helped lead team Europe to the final 4 in the tournament. That earned him a contract in NY where he was +25 this season. After the Islanders barely missed the playoffs, he played for team Germany helping them finish 4th behind the USA, Russia, and Sweden. Also, he has won a Stanley Cup in Boston.

New York Rangers

Exposed= Nick Holden, Michael Grabner, Jesper Fast, Marc Staal, Antti Raanta, Brandon Pirri, Matt Puempel, Oscar Lindberg, Adam Clendening

Option= 7 forwards 3 defenseman 1 goalie

Vegas Selection= Michael Grabner (RW) Salary= 1.65 million AB +7.09

Explanation= Grabner is coming off one of his best seasons in recent years. He scored 27 goals, registered 13 assists and was +22 this season for the Rangers. McPhee can’t pass that up, even though Grabner’s production will likely be far less in Vegas.


Exposed= Cody Ceci, Mark Borowiecki, Chris Wideman, Alexandre Burrows, Ryan Dzingel, Mike Condon

Option= 7 forwards 3 defenseman 1 goalie

Vegas Selection= Cody Ceci (D) Salary= 2.85 million – AB -4.47

Explanation= It could be a toss-up between Dzingel and Ceci. However, McPhee will take a young defenseman with some experience considering Ottawa made it to the Eastern Conference Finals this year.


Exposed= Pierre Edouard-Bellmare, Dale Weise, Valtteri Filppula

Option= 7 forwards 3 defenseman 1 goalie

Vegas Selection= Dale Weise (RW) Salary= 2.75 million AB +0.17

Explanation= There aren’t that many options for Vegas unless they are willing to take on the contract of Valtteri Filppula which is unlikely. Weise is a veteran with experience from his time in Chicago.


Exposed= Ian Cole, (ANY UFA)

Option= 7 forwards 3 defenseman 1 goalie

Vegas Selection= Ian Cole (D) Salary= 2.10 million AB +6.09

Explanation= Pittsburgh’s core was either exempt or automatically protected due to no trade/movement clauses. The rest of the team are UFA’s except for Ian Cole, making him the odd man out. Vegas gets a veteran defenseman with back to back Stanley Cup finals experiences and an exceptionally high AB for a defenseman.

San Jose

Exposed= Mikkel Boedker, Justin Braun, Brendan Dillon, David Schlemko

Option= 7 forwards 3 defenseman 1 goalie

Vegas Selection= Mikkel Boedker Salary= 4 million AB +1.39

Explanation= The only forward SJS exposed was Boedker.  Luckily he has scored quite highly on the AB scale in past seasons.

St Louis

Exposed= Nail Yakupov, Dmitrij Jaskin, Robert Bortuzzo, Carter Hutton, Ryan Reaves, Kyle Brodziak, Magnus Paajarvi, Scottie Upshall

Option= 7 forwards 3 defenseman 1 goalie

Vegas Selection= Magnus Paajarvi (RFA) AB +3.62

Explanation= St Louis had better forwards they needed to protect. Vegas needed a 4th line LW and its a bonus he’s an RFA with his previous contract being 700k.

Tampa Bay

Exposed=Vladislav Namestnikov, Cedric Paquette, Alex Killorn, Andrej Sustr, JT Brown

Option= 8 skaters 1 goalie

Vegas Selection= Alex Killorn (C) 4.45 million AB -3.14

Explanation= Tampa has to protect 4 defenseman already because of the clauses, therefore they will probably protect Stamkos, Palat, Johnson, and Kucherov. This means everyone else is exposed. Alex Killorn is the best player available in our opinion.


Exposed= Matt Martin, Ben Smith (Any UFA)

Option= 7 forwards 3 defenseman 1 goalie

Vegas Selection= Matt Martin (LW) Salary=2.5 million AB +0.55

Explanation= Unfortunately the Leafs have to protect 3 players that didn’t play much for the team this year in Joffrey Lupul, Colin Greening, and Milan Michalek. With the core of the team being exempt, Martin is the odd man out in Toronto. Vegas gets grit and toughness with the hits to keep on coming with Martin.


Exposed= Luca Sbisa, Philip Larsen, Jayson Megna, Markus Granlund, Reid Boucher, Derrek Dorsett

Option= 7 forwards 3 defenseman 1 goalie

Vegas Selection= Markus Granlund (C) Salary= 900k AB -2.48

Explanation= Vegas isn’t going to take Luca Sbisa’s contract, and Granlund is the best (and cheapest) player available.


Exposed= Brooks Orpik, Taylor Chorney, Philip Grubaeur

Option= 7 forwards 3 defenseman 1 goalie

Vegas Selection= Philip Grubaeur (G) (RFA)

Explanation= Vegas will complete the requirements for goalies. Washington luckily has goalie prospects to replace Grubaeur.


Exposed= Ondrej Pavelec, Adam Lowry, Ben Chariot, Chris Thorburn, Paul Postma

Option= 7 forwards 3 defenseman 1 goalie

Vegas Selection= Paul Postma (D) Salary=550k AB – 4.09

Explanaton= Vegas isn’t going to take a 4th goalie in Pavelec and will take another defenseman in Postma with their last pick

Las Vegas Golden Knights 2017-18 Roster/Depth Chart


1.  Vadim Shipachyov (4.5 million)

2. Alex Killorn (4.45 million)

3. Marcus Kruger (3.38 million)

4. Sam Gagner (650k)

5. Luke Glendening (1.8 million)

6. Markus Granlund (900k)

7. Mikael Backlund (3.5 million)

Total= 18.955 million

Left Wing

1.  Evander Kane (6 million)

2. Benoit Pouliot (4 million)

3. Dale Weise (2.75 million)

4. Matt Martin (2.5 million)

5. Mikkel Boedker (4 million)

6. Magnus Paajarvi (RFA)

Total= 19.25 million

Right Wing

1.  Marian Gaborik (4.375 million)

2. Michael Grabner (1.8 million)

3. Jimmy Hayes (2.3 million)

4. Lee Stempniak (2.5 million)

5. Devante-Smith-Pelly (1.3 million)

6. Reid Duke (770k)

Total=13.045 million


1.  Mattais Ekholm (3.75 million)

2. Sami Vatanen (4.875 million)

3. Nathan Beaulieu (RFA)

4. Cody Ceci (2.85 million)

5. Jonas Brodin (4.16 million)

6. Alex Petrovic (RFA)

7. Dennis Seidenberg (1.25 million)

8.Luke Schenn (1.25 million)

9. Ian Cole (2.10 million)

10.  Paul Postma (550k)

Total= 20.785 million


1.  Antti Niemi (4.5 million)

2. Calvin Pickard (1 million)

3. Philip Grubaeur (RFA)

Totals=5.5 million

Final Information Las Vegas Golden Knights

Total Salary (32 players) = 77.535 million (NHL salary cap 76 million)(NHL salary floor 46 million)

Team projected AB Score=-21.22

Projected Finish (Pacific Division based off total team AB) = 6th

Projected Standings Pacific Division (Based off total team AB)

1.  Edmonton

2. San Jose

3. Anaheim

4. Calgary

5. Los Angeles

6. Las Vegas

7. Vancouver


After the expansion draft, we will follow up this piece with another article detailing the actual team AB and whether or not our projections were accurate.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s