The expansion Vegas Golden Knights also opted for forward prospects with two of their three picks in the first round, taking Cody Glass at No. 6 and Nick Suzuki at No. 12 before selecting Swedish defenseman Erik Brannstrom with the 15th pick. "People are excited about hockey and really looking forward to the team to start going". The players were picked by the Golden Knights in the National Hockey League expansion draft. An 84-point season would have put the Golden Knights in sixth place in an eight-team Pacific Division last season, ahead of Arizona and Vancouver.
They could attempt to re-sign Johnson on July 1 - if he hasn't already inked a deal with the Coyotes, whom acquired his rights in the Smith trade and are protecting him in the NHL Expansion Draft - or find a suitable back-up like Mike Condon, Jonathan Bernier or Anders Nilsson.
The 29-year-old Neal scored six goals in the playoffs after delivering 23 in the regular season for the Predators who were a surprise Stanley Cup finalists.
He received the loudest ovation at the NHL Awards on Wednesday night when he donned a Golden Knights jersey for a first time, and he appears poised to be the franchise's face for its start.
It has been 17 years since the NHL had an expansion draft when the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild entered the league. The Vegas Golden Knights picked Marchessault in the expansion draft Wednesday, June 21, 2017.
Golden Knights owner Bill Foley and general manager George McPhee announced their choices during the NHL's annual postseason awards show at T-Mobile Arena, where Vegas will begin play in the fall.
Not by a long shot. The Golden Knights also chose forward David Perron, who had 18 goals with the St. Louis Blues, and New York Rangers forward Oscar Lindberg and Edmonton Oilers defenseman Griffin Reinhart, the fourth overall pick of the 2012 draft.
The Golden Knights' roster likely won't consist of 23 players exclusively from the 30-man group announced Wednesday, as plenty of trades could happen before or during Friday's draft and throughout the off-season. His size - 5-foot-10, 170 pounds - is worrisome, but his skills may be good enough to overlook it.
"I thought it went really well", said McPhee after the first round. The three-time Cup victor lost his starting job with the back-to-back champion Penguins, but he'll get to start over in the desert with two years on his contract.
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"I'm speechless", Hischier said. "I just want to come and play hockey".
The Golden Knights also may have landed their goaltender of the future in 25-year-old Jean-Francois Berube from the New York Islanders. The only other time the franchise had the first pick was in 1979, when the then-Colorado Rockies selected Rob Ramage. Making those agreements got Vegas forward prospect Alex Tuch from the Wild, defenseman Shea Theodore from the Ducks, unsigned forward prospect Nikita Gusev from the Lightning and the 15th pick and defensive prospect Jake Bischoff from NY.
After choosing Deryk Engelland from Calgary, the Golden Knights announced a deal with the veteran defenseman, who still lives in Las Vegas during the offseason after playing for the ECHLs Las Vegas Wranglers a decade ago. It remains to be seen what happens with Washington's Nate Schmidt, Ottawa's Marc Methot, Chicago's Trevor van Riemsdyk and San Jose's David Schlemko, any of whom could be traded as soon as Thursday.
James Neal was the biggest individual name revealed in the second round of expansion announcements.
It's clear a team built around the likes of Connor Brickley and Clayton Stoner and Chris Thorburn is a team built to struggle and veer Vegas toward lottery selections in years to come. Vegas had a pool of 673 players made available by the league's other 30 teams from which to choose.
Most of the drama at the first ever draft in Chicago was gone after only one pick.
Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is a finalist for both the Hart Memorial Trophy (NHL MVP) and the Ted Lindsay Award (outstanding player as voted by NHLPA).
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