Capitals goalie, defenseman available to expansion Knights
with the process, having gone through it when the Nashville Predators joined the league in 1998.
“Some of the best deals that we made in Nashville were those, ‘I’ll give you a pick and you pick from this list of players because we don’t have a lot of interest in these guys,’” Trotz said last month. “Those deals we got Tomas Vokoun. Those deals we got Kimmo Timonen. Those deals, they were better than anybody we could have picked from the expansion draft or traded for, franchise guys for us in Nashville that they were the throw-in guy and they ended up pretty good, pretty prominent guys.
“So I know that George will be doing a lot of horse trading and those extra throw-in picks and those extra guys that you get thrown into a deal could be very valuable for them.”
For the Capitals, general manager Brian MacLellan could offer McPhee a draft pick if the Golden Knights agree to take a pass on Schmidt.
Last month, MacLellan envisioned Schmidt as a top four defenseman for the Capitals next season, so losing him would create a roster hole. The Capitals, though, don’t have a lot of room to work with since they have already traded many of their other draft picks.
The Capitals are missing picks from the first three rounds in this year’s draft due to trades for Kevin Shattenkirk, Lars Eller and Mike Weber. MacLellan also traded away a 2018 second-round pick as part of the Eller trade and a 2018 fifth-round pick, acquiring center Tyler Graovac from Minnesota.
McPhee is familiar with both Schmidt and Grubauer from his time with the Capitols. He signed Schmidt as an undrafted free agent and drafted Grubauer in the fourth round in 2010.
“I’m not sure George is going to be willing to tell me what player he wants,” MacLellan said. “I mean, you could, I guess, in theory. I don’t know what his preference would be.”
Vegas also has an exclusive 72-hour window to sign any of Washington’s free agents, such as T.J. Oshie, but such a move is unlikely considering Vegas wants to build their team with younger prospects on reasonable contracts and that kind of signing would count as Vegas’ selection.
The Capitals left 27 players unprotected. Besides Schmidt and Grubauer, forward Jay Beagle and defenseman Brooks Orpik were the most notable players not protected who are under contract for next year. Free agents like Oshie, Justin Williams and Kevin Shattenkirk were also untouched.
Other teams in the league besides Vegas are prohibited from making any other roster moves until Wednesday’s expansion draft. The roster freeze took place Saturday when protection lists had to be submitted.
For a brief moment, McPhee might be the most powerful man in the sport.
“It’s been the most fun I’ve ever had in hockey,” McPhee said in a video posted on the team’s Twitter account. “… To build an NHL franchise from scratch is, needless to say, once in a lifetime for us and never in a lifetime for some other folks. It’s been unique.”
Washington Capitals defenseman Nate Schmidt and goaltender Philip Grubauer are among the talented players from across the league — including Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, Nashville Predators forward James Neal, Minnesota Wild forward Eric Staal and Anaheim Ducks defenseman Sami Vatanen — who could wind up playing in Las Vegas next season.
Schmidt and the others were left off their respective franchises’ lists of “protected” players released by the NHL Sunday, leaving them among the pool of potential picks by the new Vegas Golden Knights franchise in Wednesday’s expansion draft. The Golden Knights have to select one player from every team by Wednesday.
The Capitals elected to protect forwards Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Andre Burakovsky, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Lars Eller, Marcus Johansson and Tom Wilson; defensemen Dmitry Orlov, Matt Niskanen and John Carlson; and goalie Braden Holtby.
Over the course of the next three days, eyes around the league will be on Vegas general manager George McPhee, who was fired in 2014 after 17 years in the same position with the Capitals.
“We will not make a claim from a club before we talk to that club,” McPhee said in a press conference with reporters Sunday.
Translation? Get your offers ready. Teams like the Capitals that want to keep their unprotected players will have to negotiate with the Knights — offering draft picks or other incentives — to keep the expansion team from cherry-picking talent.
Capitals coach Barry Trotz is familiar
Washington Capitals goalie Philipp Grubauer and defenseman Nate Schmidt were left as potential picks by the Vegas Golden Knights’ in Wednesday’s NHL expansion draft.