Best NHL expansion team ever?: Vegas might have the cards

Gerard Gallant, center, poses for photographers with Bill Foley, left, owner of the Vegas Golden Knights, and George McPhee, Vegas Golden Knights general manager, Thursday, April 13, 2017, in Las Vegas.

Las Vegas officially has their first professional sports franchise with the conclusion of the Vegas Golden Knights' expansion draft.

Vegas Golden Knights' Deryk Engelland poses for photographers Wednesday, June 21, 2017, in Las Vegas.

The 32-year-old goaltender played 691 games in his 13-year career with the Penguins and started in 15 playoff games (9-6, .924 save percentage) in 2017 for the Penguins en route to their second consecutive Stanley Cup. Fleury is a quality starting goaltender and an upbeat, glass-half-full personality that will greatly enhance the Golden Knights' dressing-room chemistry once the expansion euphoria dies down and grim reality sets in.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who won three Stanley Cup trophies with the Penguins behind the net, was selected by the Las Vegas Golden Knights in the fourth group of expansion picks on Wednesday night.

The Golden Knights sat in a strong position created by the favorable expansion draft terms granted to Foley, who paid a $500 million expansion fee to join the league.

Vegas should have a year like Florida and make a push for the playoffs, but fall short expect around 30 to 35 wins for the Golden Knights.

Not by a long shot.

Watching Fleury take the stage in his new jersey was a familiar face: Sidney Crosby, who played with Fleury since being taken No. 1 in the 2005 NHL Draft.

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. This is like my home", Fleury said "I'm glad people remember me as a good person, not just a goalie.

One for sure will be Fleury, who arrived in Pittsburgh as the first overall pick of the 2003 National Hockey League entry draft, and helped turn a rebuilding Penguins' team into one that eventually won three Stanley Cups in his time with the club.

The Golden Knights were able to capture first-round picks from the Winnipeg Jets (13th overall) and New York Islanders (15th overall) to go along with the sixth overall pick of their own.

"I didn't know that was coming", Fleury said about his new fans' enthusiasm. The heat makes the air shimmer in the desert, and we'll see if the Golden Knights are just another illusion, waiting to either emerge or melt away into the sands. "I think sometimes people think athletes are out of reach a bit".

This is where McPhee spared no expense, even as he picked up assets for not taking Minnesota's Matt Dumba or Marco Scandella, Anaheim's Sami Vatanen or Josh Manson, Tampa Bay's Slater Koekkoek or Jake Dotchin or the Islanders' Calvin de Haan or Thomas Hickey. In exchange for not selecting certain players, Vegas also nabbed top prospects in defenseman Shea Theodore and forward Alex Tuch. By the time you read this, the Golden Knights roster could look very different than it did on Wednesday night.

In total, McPhee has seven selections in the first 75 picks in the draft, which begins today in Chicago with the first round. McPhee could trade Methot. "James Neal (the wing from Nashville and a 20-goal scorer in each of his nine National Hockey League seasons) is one, but he's a hell of player". 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. So, too, is center Jonathan Marchessault, who scored 30 goals last season for Florida.

In the fourth and final round of announcements, Vegas added two forwards ( Erik Haula and William Karlsson) and three defensemen ( Nate Schmidt, Clayton Stoner and Trevor van Riemsdyk) in addition to Fleury.

  • Julie Sanders