Marches­sault, Neal, Staal, Methot, En­strom and Raanta ... not bad for starters


The Ve­gas Golden Knights have un­til Wed­nes­day at 10 a.m. to pe­ruse the list of avail­able play­ers for the NHL ex­pan­sion draft. Each of the 30 teams can only lose one. Ve­gas must take 14 for­wards, nine de­fence­men and three goalies, then up to four ex­tras at any po­si­tion. Side deals — with of­fers of picks or play­ers to avoid cer­tain se­lec­tions — are al­lowed. The Blue Jack­ets, for ex­am­ple, are be­lieved to have a deal in place to en­sure Ve­gas stays away from for­ward Josh An­der­son and goalie Joonas Kor­pisalo. Here are six play­ers — a solid first line, top de­fence pair and No. 1 goalie — who could help make Ve­gas a vi­able first-year team:


For­ward, Florida Panthers At 26, Marches­sault scored 30 goals for the Panthers last sea­son and earns just $750,000 (all dol­lars U.S.). The Panthers are flush with young for­wards. The jour­ney­man only got a chance when Florida ran into in­jury trou­ble. The small (five­foot-nine, 174 pounds), speedy, skilled for­ward could of­fer a wow fac­tor to the fans in Ve­gas.


Cen­tre, Min­nesota Wild A Stan­ley Cup win­ner in Carolina and for­mer cap­tain, the 32-year-old Staal could bring lead­er­ship to what should be a young team, and qual­ity cen­tres are hard to find. Staal re­dis­cov­ered his game (28 goals, 35 as­sists) last year in Min­nesota and is a rel­a­tive bar­gain at $3.5 mil­lion. If the Wild are of­fer­ing a side deal to stay away from young de­fence­man Matt Dumba, Ve­gas could win both ways.


For­ward, Nashville Preda­tors Scor­ing is prob­a­bly the hard­est thing to do in the NHL, and Neal does it reg­u­larly. Bar­ring a side deal to keep him in Nashville, the 29-year-old for­mer 40-goal scorer could light it up reg­u­larly in Ve­gas. Since his 24goal rookie year of 2008-09, Neal is 15th with 238 goals. He has one year left on his con­tract at $5 mil­lion, and would surely com­mand a hefty sum at the trade dead­line.


De­fence­man, Ottawa Sen­a­tors The Sen­a­tors couldn’t con­vince Dion Pha­neuf to waive his no-move­ment clause, putting them in a po­si­tion where they will likely lose Erik Karls­son’s favourite de­fence part­ner. Load­ing up on the blue line would be a smart move for the ex­pan­sion team, and Methot — at six-foot-three and 228 pounds with a $4.9-mil­lion cap hit — is a great place to start.


De­fence­man, Win­nipeg Jets The Jets vet­eran was one of two play­ers leaguewide to waive their no-move­ment clause (Pitts­burgh goalie Marc-An­dre Fleury was the other). He did it to help the Jets keep some young for­wards, while stat­ing that he doesn’t want to leave. Ve­gas might have other ideas for the 32year-old puck-mov­ing blue­liner who earns $5.75 mil­lion a year, in­clud­ing us­ing him as bait later at the trade dead­line.


Goalie, New York Rangers Raanta ba­si­cally saved the sea­son for the Rangers when Hen­rik Lundqvist strug­gled. But teams could only pro­tect one goalie, and there was no way The King — even at age 35 — was go­ing to be ex­posed. The 28year-old Raanta (2.26 GAA, .922 save mark over 30 games) proved he could han­dle the No. 1 job and his salary is just $1 mil­lion. A tan­dem of Raanta and Fleury could give Ve­gas some hope.


No­ta­bles left un­pro­tected for the ex­pan­sion draft, the re­sults of which will be re­vealed Wed­nes­day, in­clude James Neal, top, plus (from left) Marc Methot, Jonathan Marches­sault, Antti Raanta, To­bias En­strom and Eric Staal.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.