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Former WHL Players taken in the NHL Expansion draft

24 June 2017

They did the same in Phoenix, where it hit 120. Now that he has an actual roster to work with, he can make additional trades beginning on Thursday to stockpile even more prospects and picks, looking ahead to a not-so-distant future in which the Golden Knights can actually contend in their division. Or at least, in the National Hockey League, a convincing enough illusion.

The Florida Panthers lost center Jonathan Marchessault to the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL Expansion Draft on Wednesday. Really, the biggest sin of the expansion process may have been forcing people to watch the show.

Here's the amusing part: When told Thursday about a Deadspin article entitled "Wow The Golden Knights Are Going To Be Bad", an evaluation of the team's expansion draft, general manager George McPhee didn't oppose all points.

They got the face of the franchise they wanted and who they were going to take anyways, but correctly extorted Pittsburgh for a second round pick.

The Bolts have wanted to part ways with defenseman Jason Garrison for a while and general manager Steve Yzerman made it happen at the expansion draft, giving up two picks (2017 second-round and 2018 fourth-round) plus rights to KHL player Nikita Gusev.

Not taking Columbus forward Josh Anderson or goaltender Joonas Korpisalo and Winnipeg defenseman Toby Enstrom allowed Vegas to get a first-round pick and move up from 24th to 13th.

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Maybe nobody nails these things all the way. Trading Grabovski was a salary dump to clear up cap space before potentially acquiring a top-six forward in the coming days, but now one has to wonder what it'll have left to offer for that piece after already giving up so much to Vegas. "For him to come here, for him to be that guy, it's great". Also, there appears to be a rule that Neal can not spend more than three full years in any city.

But McPhee's draft selections of Marchessault (30 goals in 2016-17), Neal (23) and David Perron (18), plus an accompanying trade with the Florida Panthers for Reilly Smith (15) assures that the team will have players with a proven scoring touch. Vegas will get the #15 overall pick, a 2019 second round pick, and Jake Bischoff.

The next WHL related pick was defensman Luca Sbisa from the Vancouver Canucks.

"We knew we were going to lose something, so we felt let's do what we can to control what we give up", Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman told TampaBayLightning.com. I've spent a lot of time there but this year is going to be a lot of fun.

Which is to say judge him after three or four entry drafts, specifically where the franchise sits then in terms of wins and, yes, contending for the playoffs.

"I believe we put together a great team from the net out", Golden Knights owner Bill Foley said after participating in his first Board of Governors meeting.

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Of course, some of all this was an illusion, too.

Vegas, which selected 30 players in its expansion draft Wednesday night, now has three picks in each of the first two rounds. Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman said Dallas was pushing for Methot, for instance.

But this team has more potential than any expansion team in National Hockey League history. I guess the worst team of the group was Minnesota, who ended up only being better than five teams in the league, but again, that's probably worth something to an expansion market that at a minimum wants to make sure their games are competitive.

The way the league went out of it's way to launch Las Vegas it's nearly surprising that they didn't hold the NHL Entry Draft there Friday as well.

However, a lack of popular names does not mean a lack of potential franchise players.

So at least everyone had a chance to screw up, and nobody had a better chance than the NHL's 31st team.

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Former WHL Players taken in the NHL Expansion draft