Photo Credit: Bill Debevc

McPhee Shouldn’t Overvalue Draft Picks

The NHL released the Expansion Draft protected list yesterday. There were no surprises from the Oilers. They will lose one of Benoit Pouliot, Iiro Pakarinen, Griffin Reinhart, Jujhar Khaira, Mark Fayne or Laurent Brossoit. The Knights could also sign an Oilers free agent like Kris Russell or Tyler Pitlick, which would count as the one player the Oilers lose.

Certain teams had to expose some quality NHL players, but rumours are swirling that Vegas GM George McPhee already has some deals in place where he will receive draft picks or prospects in exchange to not draft players like Josh Manson or Sami Vatanen.

Is this the right strategy?

Let’s assume the Knights pick the best players from the Available list based on position rules and salary cap.

Forwards (must select 14):

Jamie McGinn, Arizona ($3.33 million)
Matt Stajan, Calgary ($3.125 million)
Joakim Nordstrom, Carolina ($1.275 mill)
Cody Eakin, Dallas ($3.85 million)
Riley Sheahan, Detroit ($2.075 mill)
James Neal, Nashville ($5 million)
Devante Smith-Pelly, New Jersey ($1.3 million)
Brock Nelson, NYI ($2.5 million)
Michael Grabner, NYR($1.65 million)
Jordan Weal, Philadelphia (UFA, Sign to deal)
Joel Ward, San Jose ($3.275 mill)
J.T Brown, Tampa Bay ($1.25 million)
Ben Smith, Toronto ($650,000)
Brendan Gaunce (RFA, $949,000 Qualifying offer)

Fifteen forwards at $31.3 million (signed Weal to $1 million deal)

D-men (must select 9):

Josh Manson, Anaheim. ($850,000)
Colin Miller, Boston ($1 million)
Trevor Van Riemsdyk, Chicago ($825,000)
Griffin Reinhart, Edmonton (RFA, $949,000 QO).
Jason Demers, Florida ($4.5 million)
Brayden McNabb, Los Angeles ($1.7 million)
Matt Dumba, Minnesota ($2.55 million)
Brandon Davidson, Montreal ($1.425 million)
Marc Methot, Ottawa ($4.9 million)
Carl Gunnarson, St.Louis ($2.9 million)
Nate Schmidt, Washington (RFA, 894,000 QO)
Toby Enstrom, Winnipeg ($5.75 million)

Twelve D-men at $28.3 million

Goalies (minimum three):

Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh ($5.75 mill)
Joonas Korpisalo, Columbus ($900,000)
Linus Ullmark, Buffalo ($750,000)
Calvin Pickard, Colorado ($1 million)

Four goalies at $8.4 million.

Total: 30 players at $68 million.

This is who I could see them using. I’m sure someone might like a different player off of a certain team. Some teams don’t have an obvious choices. I felt Schmidt would do more for Vegas on the ice than Phillipp Grubauer as a backup. I looked at Michal Neuvirth in Philadelphia, as well due to McPhee knowing him their time in Washington, but with so few possible goal scorers I thought taking a cheap risk on Weal was worth it.

Who would you have on your team?


McPhee has to make some trades, otherwise he’d lose some of these players on waivers at the end of the preseason.

It seems the only reason Manson and Vatanen are on the list is because the Ducks and Vegas have a pre-determined deal. The Ducks do not have a 2017 1st rounder, so their 2018 pick could be in play. But why would you, for example, trade Manson for a first rounder next year? Unless the Ducks struggle mightily, at best it will be the 15th pick, and likely higher. I think this trade will include a young player, you heard it hear first, Shea Theodore, and a pick. If they do that then the deal would make more sense. The Ducks have an abundance of D-men and Manson is different than all their other young defenders. He is big, physical and a great skater.

I can see if McPhee trades away players with one year remaining before they become a UFA for a pick, but Manson is an excellent young defender and I’d be asking for an actual NHL player not to take him.

It will be wise for McPhee to garner some high picks from a team not to take a certain player, but he needs to avoid overvaluing draft picks over guaranteed NHL players. One of the biggest mistakes perennial bottom-feeders make is they trade away proven NHL players for draft picks. I can see doing it at the trade deadline when you are unsure the potential UFA would re-sign, but dealing proven NHL players for prospects or picks is often a losing a bet.

Sure, sometimes it works, but more often than not those picks and prospects do not become better NHL players than the proven vet you traded.


  • If they take Fleury, which most assume they will, then they should want to ice at least a competent team? Their blueline could look pretty good, even if they deal some of the aforementioned names. Their biggest struggle, like every expansion team, will be goal scoring.
  • The CFL has teamed up with Draftkings for a fantasy league. The league desperately needed it and this is a fun free one to play for week One. Even Wanye is putting a team in, but he was upset when he Eddie Steele was cut because there is no #97 on the Esks now.
  • Phillipp Grubauer is the one I struggled with the most. I really like him, but Colorado had no player better than Pickard, so I took Pickard and Schmidt instead.
  • After our successful NHL17 gaming tournament many asked if we would do one for FIFA 17 tourney. We listened and we have one, once again all for charity, and the winner gets a kick ass 1st place package. You can register here. The tourney will be on July 16th. Registration opens today and based on our NHL 17 tourney it will sell out within a week. So if you want in, register now. The Brick has once again offered up an awesome 1st place package. The Gamer’s Room. A 55″ big screen, a leather reclining couch, a sound system and a brand new Xbox from Microsoft.

Recently by Jason Gregor:

  • A-Mc

    I have to think that Vegas needs to ice a competent team in its first season. There might be the odd guy to trade away due to UFA status next summer, but if i’m McPhee, i try to ice the best team i can while still keeping my average age in the 27/28 range.

    You only have 1 shot at a first impression, and icing a garbage team in Las Vegas (of all places) seems like suicide to me. No one expects the Golden Knights to make the playoffs, but they certainly can’t be a 50pt team. Even the fans of an existing franchise have a hard time enjoying a 50pt product; how could the Golden Knights expect to grow their audience if they are a complete waste basket.

    • Rock11

      The other side to that argument is the Florida Panthers. They got good right away made a cup final and have been mediocre to bad ever since. Some times you need to take advantage of the honeymoon, be bad, and pick very high for a number of years. The question for a franchise being to we want to be the Flames and compete for the final playoff spot year after year with no chance at a championship or be the Oilers and be awful for years and accumulate enough high end talent to make a serious run at a number of cups.

      • jonnyquixote

        Like Columbus? Like Minnesota? I think Florida’s woes have a lot more to do with their ownership/market problems than the fact that John Vanbiesbrouck was awesome.

        There’s no proven expansion success formula. The teams that seem to have success have had stable ownership in the early going and also got lucky – drafting 1st in Lecavalier’s year vs. drafting 1st in Patrik Stefan’s. But even those teams needed to draft and scout well beyond that first pick and get those Brad Richardses in the 3rd and those Martin St. Louises off the waiver-wire.

        Vegas choosing to “be bad” could just as easily result in them “being bad” for a decade or more and there’s the death knell for the franchise. Far, far better to be as reasonably competitive as possible each year, every year (at least until Christmas) and let the lotto balls and free agents fall where they may.

  • camdog

    Every other team in the league has 5 something years worth of draft picks developing in the minors. Regardless of who Vegas takes this season or how competitive they are this season, they will still have a 3-4 year void in respect to developing their prospects. It’s different for an established team to over value draft picks, compared to an expansion team, this is a completely different scenario.

  • madjam

    Certain teams with little to offer , picks and prospects might make sense . All those teams that have little to offer to begin with i’d see if I could pry a first rounder (now or another year ) or perhaps other rounds , out of them rather than bother with a player unlikely to crack lineup . Edmonton, Calgary , Vanc. , Arizona , N.J., Toronto , and Colorado have nothing much worthwhile player wise once you get beyond the bad contracts . That is 7 , that if I took draft choices or prospects perhaps from them still leaves them with a 24 player base with Shipachev included . Winnipeg not much to offer either if you do not want Enstrom . So it does make sense to a degree to take on some draft picks without diminishing the overall team .

  • Tombstone

    Sounds like there is a very good chance Las Vegas will walk away with 3-5 1st overall draft picks. Which means there is a good chance Pouloit gets selected.
    Sounds like NYI, ANA, CBJ have already made deals with Las Vegas. It is still very likely that Predators, Senators and Wild do the same.

  • RJ

    Re: draft picks:

    It all depends on who is making the selections and how deep the draft year is.

    When the Oilers drafted Yak, the top pick was not elite. The rest of the class was poor. The draft did not move the team ahead.

    But when you look at the young defence assembled in Anaheim, they can afford to lose a Vatanen because the have a Montour in the wings.

    And on the plus side, seeing a McDavid in the lineup has made the Oil infinitely better than they’ve been the past 20 years. Not only that they have some solid prospects like Bear and Jones in the wings.

    How good are LV’s scouts?

  • Freddie the fog

    Slippery slope here. I understand the need to build with high picks in coming drafts. But this is a non-traditional hockey market and losing alot early could keep people away. I have my concerns about the viability of this franchise with the NFL coming soon…

    • NoBuBlackOPS

      They don’t have to loose early build the best team you can. LV has the third best lottery odds for their first 3 years regardless of where the finish in the standings.

  • RJ

    I do have to agree though that some of the proposed deals don’t make much sense to me.

    If you can take Manson, a young, physical RHD who can play top-4 minutes, you take him. You’re not finding anyone in the draft that can step in and fill that role as well as he can.

    And he’s not 32-35. He’s 24. He’s still getting better.

    • Freddie the fog

      They better get a nice package from the Ducks if they are laying off Manson. Otherwise its a huge fail. If im the Gm Im taking him …then offers from any and all teams interested. Odds are theirs a better deal from elsewhere than the Ducks are giving up.

      • RJ

        That’s the part that doesn’t make sense to me. I don’t watch a lot of Ducks hockey other than when they play Edmonton, but in the games I have seen him, he’s been very solid.

        Top-2D? Not sure but he seems like a Top-4D for the next 8-10 years and those arent easily found. Add to that he’s a RHD, and I can’t see the Ducks offering anything that has more value than Manson. Especially since their pick is unlikely to be a lottery pick.

    • Freddie the fog

      Hes done. Look at last years numbers. Iginla i would consider on a 1 yr. 1 mill. Contract. Looked like he still had plenty of game late last season. He was one of the Kings best players !!

  • Lloyd B.

    I reckon you are right Jason about over valuing picks going forward. A couple extra firsts the next couple of years is likely a good strategy.

    However, after the expansion draft, all GMs will be overvaluing picks for the entry draft.

    That is when McPhee can trade the picks he has accumulated into real NHL players.

    McPhee appears to be playing this incredibly well. Stock up on picks during the expansion draft, as GMS protect their existing players. Trade the picks later this week for players.

    Smart like a fox. A silver fox.

  • Lloyd B.

    I reckon you are right Jason about over valuing picks going forward. A couple extra firsts the next couple of years is likely a good strategy.

    However, after the expansion draft, all GMs will be overvaluing picks for the entry draft.

    That is when McPhee can trade the picks he has accumulated into real NHL players.

    McPhee appears to be playing this incredibly well. Stock up on picks during the expansion draft, as GMS protect their existing players. Trade the picks later this week for players.

    Smart like a fox. A silver fox.