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What Could The NHL’s New Las Vegas Franchise Look Like?

Get ready, Las Vegas, because the NHL is coming to town for more then just an awards show. Last Wednesday, commissioner Gary Bettman officially announced that the NHL will expand to 31 teams, adding their newest franchise in the bright lights of Vegas. The team has yet to reveal its name or color scheme at this time; they could be the High Rollers, Black Knights, or Pete Roses, but for now, we wait. In this article, I will take the helm of the general manager’s seat and go team-by-team and pick what I think the new franchise would look like after the expansion draft. There are a few rules that should be noted, and keep in mind that with the expansion draft a year away, trades can be made that change what players a team can save.

Expansion Draft Rules

  • Las Vegas will need to draft at least 14 forwards, 9 defensemen, and 3 goalies.
  • Players that have a no movement clause through 2017-2018 must be protected by their current team.
  • First and second year professionals will be exempt from selection.
  • Players must have played 40 or more games in the prior season or 70 or more games in the prior two seasons.
  • Teams can protect either 7 forwards, 3 defencemen, and 1 goalie or 8 skaters and one goalie.

Now that we have the key rules in place, I will go team by team and list some of the most attractive and possibly available players while staying under the salary cap of $73 million. I will be listing one forward, one defenseman, and a goalie that does not have a no-movement clause and what I would consider to be my best guess of a player that each team would make available to be drafted.  Keep in mind, this is not a foolproof system, as a lot can happen with some of these players between now and next summer.  A few might even be re-signed to new deals with their current teams or end up going elsewhere as free agents.  This is a look at who could be available based on each team’s current rosters at the time of this writing.

Anaheim Ducks

(F) Brandon Pirri

(D) Simon Despres

(G) Anton Khudobin

Arizona Coyotes

(F) Steve Downie

(D) Michael Stone

(G) Anders Lindback

Boston Bruins

(F) David Pastrnak

(D) Adam McQuaid

(G) Jonas Gustavsson

Buffalo Sabres

(F) Zemgus Girgensons

(D) Josh Gorges

(G) Linus Ullmark

Calgary Flames

(F) Lance Bouma

(D) T.J. Brodie

(G) Joni Ortio

Carolina Hurricanes

(F) Andrej Nestrasil

(D) Michal Jordan

(G) Eddie Lack

Chicago Blackhawks

(F) Richard Panik

(D) Trevor Van Riemsdyk

(G) Scott Darling

Colorado Avalanche

(F) Mikhail Grigorenko

(D) Brad Staurt

(G) Calvin Pickard

Columbus Blue Jackets

(F) Jared Boll

(D) Jack Johnson

(G) Curtis McElhinney

Dallas Stars

(F) Radek Faksa

(D) Jordie Benn

(G) Kari Lehtonen

Detroit Red Wings

(F) Luke Glendening

(D) Brendan Smith

(G) Jimmy Howard

Edmonton Oilers

(F) Nail Yakupov

(D) Andrew Ference

(G) Laurent Brassoit

Florida Panthers

(F) Reilly Smith

(D) Jakub Kindl

(G) Reto Berra

Los Angeles Kings

(F) Tanner Pearson

(D) Brayden McNabb

(G) Jhonas Enroth

Minnesota Wild

(F) Zac Dalpe

(D) Marco Scandella

(G) Darcy Keumper

Montreal Canadians

(F) Paul Byron

(D) Nathan Beaulieu

(G) Mike Condon

Nashville Predators

(F) Gabriel Bourque

(D) Ryan Ellis

(G) Carter Hutton

New Jersey Devils

(F) Devante Smith-Pelly

(D) David Schlemko

(G) Keith Kinkaid

New York Islanders

(F) Matt Martin

(D) Calvin De Haan

(G) Thomas Greiss

New York Rangers

(F) J.T. Miller

(D) Kevin Klein

(G) Antti Raanta

Ottawa Senators

(F) Mike Hoffman

(D) Mark Borowiecki

(G) Andrew Hammond

Philadelphia Flyers

(F) Michael Raffl

(D) Radko Gudas

(G) Michal Neuvirth

Pittsburgh Penguins

(F) Beau Bennett

(D) Brian Dumoulin

(G) Matt Murray

St. Louis Blues

(F) Jaden Schwartz

(D) Robert Bortuzzo

(G) Jake Allen

San Jose Sharks

(F) Joonas Donskoi

(D) Brenden Dillon

(G) James Reimer

Tampa Bay Lightning

(F) Brian Boyle

(D) Matthew Carle

(G) Ben Bishop

Toronto Maple Leafs

(F) Colin Greening

(D) Matt Hunwick

(G) Johnathan Bernier

Vancouver Canucks

(F) Jannik Hansen

(D) Matt Bartkowski

(G) Jacob Markstrom

Washington Capitals

(F) Daniel Winnik

(D) Karl Alzner

(G) Philipp Grubauer

Winnipeg Jets

(F) Chris Thorburn

(D) Mark Staurt

(G) Ondrej Pavelec

My Final Expansion Draft selections:


Zemgus Girgensons

Andrej Nestrasil

Mikhail Grigorenko

Radek Faksa

J.T. Miller

Daniel Winnik

Left Wings

Tanner Pearson

Matt Martin

Mike Hoffman

Jaden Schwartz

Colin Greening

Right Wings

David Pastrnak

Richard Panik

Nail Yakupov

Reilly Smith

Steve Downie

Jannik Hansen


Simon Despres

T.J Brodie

Jack Johnson

Brendan Smith

Marco Scandella

Ryan Ellis

David Schlemko

Radko Gudas

Brenden Dillon

Mark Stuart


Mike Condon

Matt Murray

Ben Bishop

There you have it the newest team to enter the NHL in Las Vegas, and under the salary cap at $69.587 million! While the league aims to make this the most competitive expansion team to enter the league, it is not a perfect system. Teams will have a lot of decisions to make with their players, like Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay. With their current setup they could see a very promising goalie or goalie prospect leave their team and not be compensated in any way. Some teams may be forced to make the tough decisions of protecting an aging veteran in favor of younger talent moving up the ranks. Either way, this will make for an interesting and exciting time that is right on the horizon for hockey fans.

Stats have been compiled from and

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