CAP­I­TALS

Cap­i­tals goalie, de­fense­man avail­able to ex­pan­sion Knights

The Washington Times Daily - - SPORTS - BY MATTHEW PARAS

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

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

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