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Josi is the most overrated player in the nhl. He isnt even close to a top ten. - James_Tanner, NJ • 2015 Years Old • Male
We still have an entire NHL season to play before next summer’s coming expansion draft. Unfortunately, we also still have quite a few weeks until even the World Cup preliminaries begin, let alone NHL hockey. At this point, you’ve more than likely read at least a handful of mock expansion drafts already. Well, guess what? Here’s another. Yes, I realize NHL rosters are likely to look completely different come draft time and that essentially makes mock drafts done almost a year in advance a (complete) waste of time.

However, I feel as though I’ve actually come up with a pretty good starting roster for the Las Vegas Tomahawks. Or is it just Hawks? Has anyone even called the London Knights about buying the name? Regardless, it’s August. We’re all bored. What are you going to do in the interim if you don’t continue forward with this blog? Wait for Gary Bettman to recognize the clear connection between contact sports and CTE? Take bets on what happens first: Jimmy Vesey signing or the Vegas team being named? Watch paint dry? For the sake of organization, I’ve broken this down into 3 sections: top 9 forwards, defensemen, and the remaining forwards and goalies.

Using General Fanager’s mock expansion draft tool, I drafted 17 forwards, 10 defensemen, and 3 goalies with a projected team cap hit of $58,742,499 and $14,257,501 in cap space.

Forwards: 17
Defensemen: 10
Goalies: 3
Projected team cap hit: $58.7
Projected cap space:

I’ll go pick by pick and provide some brief context as to why I believe they will be picked. I’ll start with the remaining forwards and goalies. None of the players I will be listing in this section are likely to be protected by their current teams. I will provide further context for some of the forwards and defensemen in the next two sections as to why I believe some teams will ultimately protect some players over others.

Let’s look at the forwards that could potentially make up Las Vegas’ 10-13/14 forwards, as well as some extras who may become trade bait. All contract details listed are as if the ‘16-17 season has already concluded.

4th Line
Torrey Mitchell-Brad Richardson-Dmitrij Jaskin

Extra forwards
Jordan Nolan, Andrej Nestrasil, Anthony Mantha, Brett Connolly, Reid Boucher

1. Torrey Mitchell
Mitchell is still a serviceable bottom six forward who will likely remain in the Vegas line up because of his versatility. He absolutely won’t be the sexiest pick of this expansion draft, but there’s slim pickings in Montreal unless you want to take a chance on a young player like Charlie Hudon. He is only signed for 1 year at 1.2 million and is a no brainer, no risk veteran pick up.

2. Brad Richardson
He is likely a mainstay as the team’s fourth line center. The Coyotes have without question the saddest selection of expansion draft talent. Richardson is likely the best unprotected player available for the expansion franchise. Like Mitchell, he is also signed for only one more season at a little over 2 million.

3. Dmitrij Jaskin
One of the only players I would even hear an argument for being protected from this entire section. Jaskin has already proven himself a capable NHL player and is still very young. He starts as a fourth line wing on my Vegas team and would be one of the first players I move up into the top nine if need be. He’s signed for 1 year, 1 million and be a RFA with Vegas in ‘18-19.

4. Jordan Nolan
Nolan has proven to be a solid fourth line energy forward and would likely be the 13th or 14th forward for Vegas. If not, he is easily flipped for a low level pick or simply demoted to the AHL. He’s signed for only 1 year at 950k, so he carries no risk.

5. Andrej Nestrasil
He absolutely has the potential to crack the opening night roster as a starting bottom 6 forward. If only one of Jordan Nolan or Andrej Nestrasil makes the team, I likely choose Nestrasil if I’m the coach. Big winger who will chip in the odd point, he likely slots somewhere either on the 4th line or in the press box if he’s not flipped via trade. Nestrasil is currently unsigned for 17-18 but is still a RFA.

6. Anthony Mantha
An absolute no brainer pick from the Red Wings. Mantha has huge talent that has yet to be realized at the professional level. He will likely either finally breakthrough in 16-17 and end up protected by the Wings or he will be traded before the draft. Players with Mantha’s size and skill set don’t come around free very often. If he can’t find a spot in the top nine, he will likely either be demoted or traded. He will have just turned 23 when the Vegas team finally takes the ice. If he hasn’t established himself as an NHL player by then, the team will have no problem waiving him; low risk, high reward pick. If Mantha were protected, it means two of Andreas Athanasiou, Tomas Jurco or Teemu Pulkkinen is available. Xavier Ouellet, Alexey Marchenko, and Ryan Sproul would all also be available from Detroit. They are losing a good player no matter who they protect. Mantha is signed for a shade over 850k for 1 year.

7. Brett Connolly
There isn’t much to choose from the Capitals roster. If Mantha is a low risk, high reward pick, Connolly is a low risk, moderate/low reward pick. Vegas has no reason not to take him, but it wouldn’t even be with the same expectations as Mantha. This would essentially equate to a camp invite situation; Connolly would have to play the best hockey of his professional career thus far to make the Vegas team as one of its 13/14 forwards. He’d be a long shot to make the team at all let alone in the top nine where he would be best suited. If he fails, the team can simply waive him or trade him to a team that may be interested. Connolly is currently unsigned for 17-18 but is a RFA.

8. Reid Boucher
Basically re-read the paragraph about Mantha, and you’ve got the same player in Boucher. He’s a year older than Mantha and has had a similar start to his NHL career. However, Boucher has a good chance at solidifying himself as a regular NHLer for the Devils in 16-17. If he makes it to the expansion draft, he’s a no brainer for the Vegas team for all the same reasons Mantha is. If he is protected, it means a player like Devante Smith Pelly or Beau Bennet is not; go ahead and pencil either of those guys in this spot instead if that were the case. Boucher is currently unsigned for 17-18 but is a RFA.

Ok, now time for the goalies. Now, I will preface this section by saying I absolutely believe the Las Vegas expansion franchises first starting goalie will be acquired either through trade or free agency. There are at least two very good, young goalies that may be available in this expansion draft: Matt Murray and Malcom Subban. Ultimately, I think the Penguins will choose Matt Murray over Marc Andre Fleury before the expansion draft. The Bruins will be forced to make a long term decision regarding their goaltending as well. I’d certainly peg Fleury to move before Tuuka Rask, but stranger things have occurred before. Then there’s the whole situation in Tampa with Andrei Vasilevsky and UFA Ben Bishop and to a lesser extent in Colorado with Semyon Varlamov and Calvin Pickard.

There’s absolutely no chance Vegas takes a guy like Jimmy Howard, Mike Smith, or whatever goalie Dallas makes available. Steve Mason, Michael Neuvirth, and the aforementioned Bishop will all be UFA heading into 17-18. Ultimately, I think the Vegas team signs a stop gap starter in free agency until Malcolm Subban is ready.

1. Malcolm Subban
The Vegas team will leave the expansion draft with either him, Matt Murray, or Calvin Pickard as their anointed starter of the future. Subban likely makes the team as it’s back-up by 17-18. If not, he could either be used as trade-bait or the team will try to pass him through waivers to the AHL for further seasoning. Subban will be a 23 year old RFA in 17-18.

2. Antti Raanta
He has established himself as a quality NHL back-up and will fight for a roster spot in Vegas. If he does not win the back-up job, he could be easily flipped to a team in need of a cheap back-up. Raanta has a 1 million dollar cap hit in 17-18 and is an UFA at the end of the season.

3. Andrew Hammond
He would battle Raanta for a roster spot and either see most of his $1.35 million cap hit demoted or traded for a low level pick in the event he does not make the team. An ideal situation would see Subban backing up a free agent starter, Raanta flipped for a pick, and Hammond as the teams AHL starter and third string goalie. I originally had this pick pegged to be Calvin Pickard but ultimately changed it to Hammond after determining Vegas would likely take a skater from Colorado. For anyone that’s curious, Matt Puempel would be the skater I drafted from Ottawa had I taken Pickard instead of Hammond. The former Division 1 stand out and late blooming net minder is an UFA after 17-18.

Forwards: 8/17
Torrey Mitchell-Brad Richardson-Dmitrij Jaskin

(Jordan Nolan, Andrej Nestrasil, Anthony Mantha, Brett Connolly, Reid Boucher)

Defensemen: 10

Goalies: 3/3
-Malcolm Subban
-Antti Raanta
(Andrew Hammond)

Projected team cap hit: $58.7
Projected cap space: $14.25

So there you have it: the goaltenders, fourth line and bubble forwards for the Las Vegas expansion franchise. I tried to keep this very simple and straight forward since most of these guys are depth players. Next, I’ll go through the ten defensemen I drafted for Las Vegas. I will follow that up with the team’s top 9 forwards as well as a general wrap-up that will include my opening night roster.

Looking forward to reading your comments; hope you guys enjoyed reading.
Filed Under:   STL   ARI   MTL   expansion draft   Las Vegas   NHL   CAR   LAK  
August 22, 2016 12:06 PM ET | Delete
The guy signed for 8, the guy who is not your number 1, is gone.
August 22, 2016 12:06 PM ET | Delete
hopefully you understand that. i meant Tukka Rask
August 24, 2016 9:51 PM ET | Delete
pickles on your head of bob.
August 24, 2016 9:51 PM ET | Delete
Oh, sorry, that was nonsense.
August 24, 2016 9:51 PM ET | Delete
I forgot.
August 25, 2016 11:31 PM ET | Delete
Free smelly
August 27, 2016 6:02 PM ET | Delete
Mr.Bobby, hello.
September 4, 2016 8:27 AM ET | Delete
September 4, 2016 12:08 PM ET | Delete
who posted?
September 4, 2016 12:08 PM ET | Delete
Message Posted
September 4, 2016 12:08 PM ET | Delete
September 4, 2016 12:08 PM ET | Delete
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September 4, 2016 12:08 PM ET | Delete
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