Minn. Collegians, Former Wild Players Move to Vegas in NHL Expansion Draft

Stanley Cup-winning goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, defensemen Marc Methot and Alexei Emelin, 30-goal scorer Jonathan Marchessault and forwards David Perron and James Neal are among the veterans selected by the Golden Knights in the National Hockey League expansion draft Wednesday night.

A year after the NHL welcomed owner Bill Foley's 31st franchise into the league, the Golden Knights finally have the core of the team they'll put on the desert ice this fall.

Fleury took the stage in a Golden Knights jersey to wild cheers from his new home fans.

The expansion draft came and went with the Sharks emerging relatively unscathed, losing a third-pairing defenseman to the NHL's newest franchise. The Penguins visit the Chicago Blackhawks on October 5 in a matchup of the only teams to win the Cup three times in the salary-cap era.

Here's the thing that maybe wasn't clear from the beginning: Not only were the Vegas Golden Knights getting to poach one player off every roster, they were also getting compensation (mostly draft picks) from the other 30 clubs in order to direct who they chose. Grabovski, also 33, has one year and $5 million remaining on his contract and has not played since 2015-16 because of a concussion. The Ducks traded the promising Theodore to stop Vegas from selecting defensemen Sami Vatanen and Josh Manson - and to persuade the Golden Knights to take Clayton Stoner instead, removing his onerous contract from the five-time defending Pacific Division champions' books.

Contractually, the players the Golden Knights selected had to have an aggregate dollar value of 60 to 100 per cent of the prior season's upper salary cap limit, which was $73-million (U.S.).

Not by a long shot. It remains to be seen how numerous 30 players selected Wednesday will still be with Vegas on opening night. Will it work? Well, McPhee said, "time will tell".

"One of the advantages of our expansion team situation is we've known all year where we would pick so that's given us the opportunity to focus in on that group of players", McCrimmon said. Fleury, the only netminder of the bunch with credentials as a starter, is the clear-cut No. 1 and rightfully so, while Berube, formerly a New York Islander, and Pickard, taken from Colorado Avalanche, offer some big league experience as second-stringers.

"I didn't know that was coming", Fleury said about his new fans' enthusiasm.

Side deals prevented the team from acquiring players such as Eric Staal and Matt Dumba.

In addition, bringing aboard Alex Tuch, a well-regarded prospect from the Minnesota Wild, can't be overlooked. The Golden Knights selected James Neal from Nashville, Deryk Engelland from Calgary, David Perron from St. Louis and Chris Thorburn from Winnipeg.

"It's a hard draft", said McPhee, the franchise's GM.

The alternative was probably picking an RFA then declining to qualify him, so I guess you can see where this one came from. Neal is a proven 40 goal scorer, when he is with the right guy, and now Vegas needs to find that guy as soon as they can, If they want to be competitive immediately. For more recent success, look for Jonathan Marchessault to build on the career-best 30 goals he scored in Florida last season. He began his career with the Florida Panthers, and played three seasons in the Sunshine State before signing with his hometown Canucks as a free-agent in 2012.

Teams could protect seven forwards, three defencemen and one goaltender from exposure or eight skaters and a goalie.

Follow Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/SWhyno.

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  • Julie Sanders