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  • Impressive names come to Vegas in Expansion Draft

    Daily News

    Impressive names come to Vegas in Expansion Draft

    Tim Rosenthal June 22, 2017

    LAS VEGAS — With the trade freeze being lifted on Thursday, some of the players selected by the Vegas Golden Knights during Wednesday’s Expansion Draft, like Colin Miller, may encounter the NHL’s version of a one-night stand.

    Even with rumors and speculation of player movement taking center stage over the next few weeks, there’s no denying that a few names selected by the Golden Knights look impressive on paper. From Jason Garrison to James Neal and Marc-Andre Fleury, general manager George McPhee found a few solid veterans to help structure the Golden Knights’ inaugural roster.

    In addition to their selection of veterans, the Golden Knights revealed other prior transactions. Guys like former Boston College standout Alex Tuch and Shea Theodore, once the subject of trade rumors in Boston, were nabbed for the Wild and Ducks to protect their young and thriving blue-liners, including Shea Theodore and Matt Dumba.

    Oh, and there’s the stockpile of draft picks that McPhee was able to acquire. Come Friday’s NHL Entry Draft in Chicago, they will have three first round draft picks, which were previously held by the Blue Jackets and Jets. In total, they’ll have 12 selection to make on the United Center draft floor during the two-day span, which also includes nine picks in Rounds 2-7.

    Wanting to accomplish two things this weekend in selecting a solid core and building for the future, McPhee has a reason to be proud of his first significant day as the GM of the Golden Knights. The four selections that were in attendance, Fleury, Garrison, Engelland and Brayden McNabb, couldn’t agree more despite saying goodbye to their teammates in Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Calgary and Los Angeles, respectively.

    “Back then I wouldn’t have thought that they were getting an NHL team,” said Engelland, a Vegas native who played in for the Wranglers, Sin City’s ECHL club in the 2003-04 and 2004-05 seasons. “And now to be here and to put the [Golden Knights] jersey on and to be a part of this organization is a great honor.”

    More often than not, expansion teams often struggle in their first season. But the way the Expansion Draft was formatted, there’s a reason to think that the Golden Knights will be competitive come October.

    Not only do they have a proven GM in McPhee, who drafted talented players like Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom in Washington, but their head coach, Gerald Gallant, guided the Panthers to an Atlantic Division title in 2015-16. His unceremonious firing from South Florida last fall turned into an opportunity to be the guy behind the Golden Knights’ bench.

    The odds of making the playoffs will still be high. That is a story for another day, though.

    “I think we’re going to be competitive,” said McNabb, the first member of the Golden Knights to be introduced to the Vegas faithful at T-Mobile Arena. “There’s a lot of good players that we selected, and, you know, some young guys too and we’ve got great goaltending. So it’s going to be fun.”

    Indeed, the Golden Knights should be an interesting team to watch. But there are still some obstacles ahead. Most players, like Garrison, will be playing with an entire set of new teammates for the first time in his NHL career.

    “It can be a little bit difficult at the start, especially when you’re changing teams,” Garrison said. “But you know there’s so much anticipation and excitement coming into this Expansion Draft. I’m excited.”

    Excitement is a popular buzzword for Vegas. It’s also a feeling for Fleury, who despite leaving the three-time Stanley Cup champion Penguins, will be reuniting with a couple of his former teammates during his decade-plus run in Pittsburgh in Neal and Engelland.

    “Yeah, definitely,” Fleury said about his comfort level knowing he’ll have a couple of former teammates from previous years. “You’re kind of going into the unknown in starting with a new team. They’re all good guys, and I think it will make the transition a little easier.”

    Soon, the transition from the off-season to training camp and the regular season will become a reality for the 31st team in the National Hockey League.

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    Tim Rosenthal

    Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.


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