George McPhee hasn’t been on the job long enough to hire a scouting staff. But the general manager for the NHL’s Las Vegas expansion franchise is already formulating his strategy for next year’s expansion draft.
“Teams will still do their best to not give us anything,” McPhee said. “We’ll have a better opportunity to build a foundation than in previous expansion drafts. But we’re going to have to work hard to find great players.”
McPhee figures he will be lucky if he selects one or two players who stick with the franchise for the long term. But that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be staying away from players with long-term deals.
“I think we’ll have to evaluate every team on a case-by-case basis and see what they have,” McPhee said. “I’ll take a longer contract if it’s a good player.”
Before McPhee got the job, the other 30 general managers were already shuffling their rosters so as to have options entering the expansion draft. With teams allowed to protect one goaltender, that’s the main reason Frederik Andersen and Brian Elliott were dealt this summer and why the Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning and Detroit Red Wings are expected to make similar moves with goalies.
Teams will be able to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie OR eight skaters and one goalie in the expansion draft. They must also protect players with no-movement clauses as well as first- or second-year pros.
In a busy summer of offseason transactions, here are some of players who were obtained with consideration for being dangled for next year’s expansion draft.
Jason Chimera, LW, New York Islanders: A summer of change up front for the Islanders included the signing of Chimera, a veteran providing speed and experience after the offseason exodus of Kyle Okposoand Frans Nielsen. But Chimera is signed through 2018 on a team cluttered with talented young forwards. With the Islanders likely to keep seven forwards and three defensemen, Chimera could be the odd man out and an appealing option for an expansion team.