The Las Vegas Golden Knights, the NHL’s newest expansion franchise, will soon get the green light to start making player deals and general manager George McPhee is looking forward to it. The Golden Knights will officially be able to start assembling their roster once club owner Bill Foley has paid off the remaining money owing on the $500 million expansion fee. Once he does, Las Vegas will be the league’s 31stteam. It’s believed Foley will pay off the final installment close to March 1st, which is trade deadline day in the NHL.
The Golden Knights won’t be able to trade for players who are currently on rosters in the 2016/17 season or players who are injured, but can start acquiring draft picks from other clubs. This is a distinct possibility due to the upcoming expansion draft on June 20th. The Golden Knights will be able to select one unprotected player from each of the other 30 teams to build their roster. However, several clubs will be inclined to persuade Las Vegas to leave specific unprotected players alone by sending them draft picks or future considerations. For example, a team could send a fourth-round pick to Vegas to turn a blind eye on a specific player.
This was the case before the last expansion draft in 2000. At that time, the San Jose Sharks made a deal with both the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets if they agreed not to choose goaltender Evgeni Nabokov. This summer’s expansion draft picks will be revealed live on television on June 21st, the same day the NHL Awards show takes place in Las Vegas. However, Las Vegas will send the league their picks the day before. The Entry Draft will then take place a few days later. The timing of Las Vegas’ official trade go-ahead could have a big effect on this year’s trade deadline moves. At the moment, teams may decide to trade a player for something in return rather than risk losing him for nothing in the draft.
On the other side of the coin, clubs may also trade draft picks for a certain player for the specific reason of leaving him exposed in the expansion draft. The NHL will allow Las Vegas to make deals for draft picks after the March 1st trade deadline has passed if the franchise hasn’t finalized the expansion fee payment by that date. The Golden Knights will also be able to trade for junior-level players who have already been drafted by an NHL club as well as an NHL-signed player who may be playing overseas for some reason. CHL and NCAA free agents are others who can be acquired. McPhee and his staff have been preparing for their debut season for several months now by scouting draft-eligible players and free agents.
The Golden Knights will enter the 2017 NHL Entry Draft Lottery in April with the same odds as the league’s 28th-placed team this season, which means the latest they will draft will be sixth overall. The team will then pick third in rounds two to seven of the draft. Las Vegas is also a possibility for the 2018 NHL All Star Game if the league doesn’t send players to the Winter Olympics next year. If NHL players are allowed to participate in the Olympics then the All-Star Game won’t take place next year. In that case, Vegas will host an All-Star Game in the near future as a part of the $500 million franchise fee.