The Vegas Golden Knights will be joining the NHL for their inaugural season and with that historic moment comes a few perks, including an early start on free agency.
One of the wrinkles of this year’s expansion draft is that the Vegas Golden Knights will get an exclusive 72-hour window to speak to restricted and unrestricted free agents. From June 18-20th, the Golden Knights can sign any restricted or any unrestricted free agent that was left unprotected for expansion. Basically, that means that Vegas could sign a guy like Kris Russell during those three days if they can swing a deal. Got it? Of course you do.
Just because I’m using Russell as my example, let’s say Vegas does sign him during that 18-20th sneak-peek window. That signing would then count as the Golden Knights’ pick off of Edmonton’s roster. Vegas has to pick or sign one player from each team’s unprotected players list so the NHL is essentially giving them two chances to do it – during this exclusive preview window or at the expansion draft itself. With that in mind, would any of the Oilers pending free agents be of interest?
This opportunity for early larceny (expansion draft is June 21st) had me wondering whether or not there would be any Oiler free agents that might tickle the fancy of Golden Knights’ GM, George McPhee. Is there anyone that Peter Chiarelli might try to push on McPhee to avoid picking someone else? I checked NHLNumbers to come up with a list of players that are in need of a contract while also likely to be left unprotected in the expansion draft.
Please oh please sign Lil’ D. That would be doing us a massive favour for a bite-sized package.
I wonder what will happen with Eric Gryba this summer. I think he’s a solid 7th defenceman that can step into the lineup when you need him, but I also think that he’ll be around again later in the summer like he was last year. If Vegas wants him, they’ll probably be able to do it in August.
Hendo was a good soldier and I hope someone picks him up, but I don’t think that’ll happen here. Vegas would be doing us a solid here, and while I’d be pumped to see Hendricks land another NHL gig I think he’ll have to wait a while.
Is there a place on Peter Chiarelli’s expansion list for Zack Kassian? He’s definitely an NHL player and McPhee needs as many as he can get, but would Vegas be a good place for Kass? With the progress he made in his role this season with the Oilers, I’d hope he’ll still be around come October.
Khaira would be an interesting pickup for the Knights. He’s a young player that’s starting to come into his own, and will likely be ready for NHL duty as early as this season. Maybe? It seems unlikely, but maybe.
I don’t know how many ways I can feel bad for Tyler Pitlick. The guy needs to go to a witch doctor or something to figure out which demon he pissed off because he cannot stay healthy. The kid was having the season of his life before he got hurt, and now he’s in a weird spot as to where he’ll get his next chance. Will it be in Edmonton? Would Vegas take the chance?
Reinhart is actually who I expect Vegas to take in the draft and it’s going to be hilarious. If McPhee does actually pick Griffin Reinhart, that trade will go down as one of the worst pure asset management moves in recent memory. The Oilers will have traded a first and second round pick for 30 games of Griffin Reinhart. The fallout would be amazing to watch. Just thinking about it makes me laugh.
This is actually an interesting call and I guess it depends on how badly Russell wants to be back in Edmonton versus how much Vegas would want to pay him. Is it important for him to sign close to home overall? Vegas is only a quick flight away! Is he really that attached to the Oilers? Are they as attached to the player as it seems? There is no doubt that Kris Russell is an NHL defenceman and Vegas is in desperate need of those if they plan on being even remotely competitive and Kris Russell could be a guy that they may see as an option. Who knows?
To me, there are going to be free agents around the NHL that Vegas is going to want a headstart on with this early window, but there are also players that teams won’t be able to re-sign because of cap issues or otherwise. I’m betting that GMs will be getting into McPhee’s ear with offers (draft picks, future favours, fidget spinners) to try and sway him into signing some of these free agents as another means to steer Vegas away from drafting players that teams want but were unable to protect from expansion. Will it work? Who knows, but I’ll be watching for how many draft picks head Vegas’ way during the expansion festivities.