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2017 NHL Mock Expansion Draft

By Brett Malamud

The stars will be bright in Las Vegas tonight as the NHL Awards commence. The show will also be significant due to the unveiling of the roster for the league’s newest franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights. Here are my picks for the 31st NHL team.

 

Anaheim Ducks: Clayton Stoner, 24, D

Right off the bat, we start out with a tough selection. It was long rumored that the Ducks may make Jakob Silfverberg available if they chose to protect a fourth defenseman, but that didn’t happen, and Ducks GM Bob Murray opted for the 7-3-1 protection format. Defenseman Sami Vatanen could be one of those candidates to get selected and then flipped to another team. We know that there is a deal in place with Anaheim though, which should take Vatanen out of play. So I’m going to believe that the Ducks will allow Vegas to take Stoner.

 

Arizona Coyotes: Peter Holland, 26, C

While the options aren’t that attractive in the desert, Vegas must take a player from all 30 teams, and Peter Holland is a good depth pick. They could also take the 36-year-old winger Radim Vrbata on a one year deal and try to flip him to a contender later in the year.

 

Boston Bruins: Malcolm Subban, 23, G

If a team like say, the Philadelphia Flyers, wants Vegas to select goaltender Malcolm Subban for them and make a trade, that’s an option. Of course, that’s if Vegas doesn’t want Subban for themselves. I see this as an opportunity for McPhee to select his goalie of the future. Surely Marc-Andre Fleury won’t be there forever (assuming he picks him). I’d also keep an eye on Colin Miller, who I’d consider an extremely underrated talent. An offensive defenseman, Miller has a wicked shot and while his defending could use some more work, he could see himself on the powerplay regularly.

 

Buffalo Sabres: William Carrier, 22, LW

The former second round pick should be the pick here, after moving to the Sabres in the Ryan Miller trade. Being only 22, he’ll get some time to develop in the minors before making the jump up to the NHL full-time.

 

Calgary Flames: Alex Chiasson, 25, RW 

Chiasson is a player who I’ve had my eyes on for the last couple of years. The 6-3 winger also is a restricted free agent, but should be pretty easy to lock down to a deal. Vegas could opt to take defenseman Brett Kulak here instead, but with a ton of defense out there, I’ll opt for Chiasson.

 

Carolina Hurricanes: Lee Stempniak, 34, RW

Not too much talent here. Hurricanes GM Ron Francis did a good job protecting the right guys, and Vegas will probably take Stempniak as the best available player from Carolina.

 

Chicago Blackhawks: Marcus Kruger, 27, C

There is a rumored side deal with the Blackhawks that’ll see them ship Kruger along with defenseman Trevor Van Riemsdyk to Vegas. I believe those rumors to be true, as the Blackhawks are currently the only NHL team over the salary cap and look to free themselves from some larger contracts.

 

Colorado Avalanche: Mikhail Grigorenko, 23, C

Grigorenko is a restricted free agent, so he’d have to agree to a contract, but he’s only 23 years old and has a lot of upside. The popular pick here has been goaltender Calvin Pickard. Pickard played very well in the IIHF World Championships, but based on how I am building this team, Pickard would see himself in the minors, and wouldn’t be a good pick here.

 

Columbus Blue Jackets: William Karlsson, 24, C

The following comes from the Columbus Dispatch: “…the Blue Jackets will pay dearly to dissuade the Golden Knights from taking [Josh] Anderson, [Joonas] Korpisalo or one of the veteran defensemen — Jack Johnson or David Savard — that they would have exposed. The Jackets are believed to be trading this year’s first-round draft pick (No. 24 overall) and a prospect (not Pierre-Luc Dubois or Sonny Milano) to Vegas for assurances that the Golden Knights will select either left wing Matt Calvert, center William Karlsson or defenseman Ryan Murray.”

With that said, I’ll take the former second round pick William Karlsson.

 

Dallas Stars: Cody Eakin, 26, C

For me, Dallas was one of the final picks that I made, and so I’m going on the best player available here, and that’s Eakin for me.

 

Detroit Red Wings: Petr Mrazek, 25, G

I will admit, I was more surprised about this non protected player more than any other in the expansion draft. But Detroit had to make a decision, and they picked the 33-year-old Jimmy Howard over 25-year-old Petr Mrazek in goal. The problem for me with this was that had they left Howard unprotected, Vegas almost definitely wouldn’t have taken him. But with Mrazek there instead, it’s definitey intriguing and there’s going to be some debate in Las Vegas on who they should select. McPhee will have some other strong options in net, with Washington’s Philipp Grubauer, Colorado’s Calvin Pickard and New York’s Antti Raanta all available, as well as Boston’s Malcom Subban for the taking. Vegas won’t load up on goalies unless they have deals in place to flip players to other teams. So while I’d like to see Mrazek be the selection, don’t be shocked if they play it safe and select center Riley Sheahan.

 

Edmonton Oilers: Griffin Reinhart, 23, D

What’s interesting about this pick is the common assumption that McPhee worked with Reinhart, who is an RFA this summer, during his time in New York. Yes, McPhee was a part of the Islanders organization from September 2015 through July 2016 before being hired by Golden Knights owner Bill Foley to run the Vegas franchise. But Reinhart was actually traded in June 2015 during the NHL Draft. But don’t think that he doesn’t know about the young prospect. Yes, Reinhart failed to crack the Isles top six before being shipped off to Edmonton. And yeah, he’s had a minimal impact in Edmonton. I’d take one last shot on him if I were Vegas.

 

Florida Panthers: Jonathan Marchessault, 26, C

The Panthers left Marchessault unprotected just after he scored 30 goals this season. Vegas should also like the fact that he is making less than $1 million for the upcoming year, and is just 26 years old.

 

Los Angeles Kings: Brayden McNabb, 26, D

At 6-5, McNabb would be a good pick for Vegas and at just 26 years old, I could see him as a player they’d like to keep on their blue line for years to come.

 

Minnesota Wild: Eric Staal, 32, C

While many were quick to put defensemen Matt Dumba in this spot, there must be some debate over this pick with the Vegas brass.  Dumba is a good prospect, and am attractive option. But I see this expansion draft deeper on defense than scoring forwards, and so Staal makes sense. Staal was Minnesota’s top goal scorer this season and could find himself as Vegas’ first team captain, after serving the role in Carolina. It’s widely thought that Minnesota will have a trade in place to have Vegas lay off Dumba/Scandella/Staal and take a player such as Erik Haula. But I honestly think that taking a player such as Staal or Dumba would be more valuable than a draft pick (remember, the Wild traded their first round pick for this season. However they do have picks for the coming years, so keep an eye on that) to take Haula. With that said, I’m taking Staal here as the more marketable asset, and if he is picked, Vegas fans will find themselves sporting his jersey on opening night.

(UPDATE: There are reports out there that Haula will sign a multi year deal with Vegas, so expect that to be the pick tonight)

 

Montreal Canadiens: Brandon Davidson, 25, D

If the Knights can agree to a deal with UFA Alex Radulov, then they should take the chance on him as he’ll provide an impact, and will take on some salary. Of course, that could come on July 1, and not picking him here could allow Vegas to take two players from the Habs. I believe that their selection here will be Davidson, who represents the youngest Montreal defenseman under contract through next season.

 

Nashville Predators: James Neal, 29, LW

If George McPhee has a deal in place with the defending western conference champions, it probably take Neal off the table, and I see Colton Scissons as a possible second choice. But I believe that Vegas sees Neal as a potential threat on their first line. After all, this is a team who have repeatedly said that they want to be good right away, while stocking up for the future at the same time. Neal would fit into that equation, even with his $5 million cap hit.

 

New Jersey Devils: Jon Merrill, 25, D

Another young defenseman for Vegas with Merrill being picked here. The Devils don’t want to lose a guy like Merrill, but it doesn’t seem likely that a side deal will be made.

 

New York Islanders: Casey Cizikas, 26, C

Newsday’s Arthur Staple reported Monday evening that the Islanders have a deal in place with Vegas to send a first round pick and Mikhail Grabovski ($5 million cap hit) to the Golden Knights, in exchange for selecting a designated player chosen by the Isles. I believe that the player is Casey CIzikas, who holds a $3.35 million cap hit. In a move that would free up $8.35 million, the Islanders would create the cap space necessary to go after coveted trade assets such as Matt Duchene, Jordan Eberle, and Alex Galchenyuk. They could always opt to give Vegas defenseman Thomas Hickey ($2.2 million cap hit), but if the Islanders trade defensemen Calvin De Haan, Ryan Pulock, or Travis Hamonic in a trade for a top six forward (or possibly two trades), I’d bet the Islanders would want Hickey at least on their roster. I’m going to stick with my gut and go with Cizikas.

 

New York Rangers: Michael Grabner, 29, RW

Coming off of a career year, Grabner could give the Golden Knights some help up front. This pick could end up being goaltender Antti Raanta, who has proven that he could be a number one goaltender in the NHL. I expect him to factor into the goaltender conversation for the Golden Knights if they pick him instead, or if he’s not flipped to another team first. I’ll take Grabner here though, based on the goalies I’ve already selected.

 

Ottawa Senators: Marc Methot, 31, D

According to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, Ottawa could not get a deal done before George McPhee’s self imposed midnight trade deadline on Monday. Therefore, I believe that McPhee is taking Methot. Of course, there is interest in Methot, but one of the important statements from McPhee came Monday morning when discussing flipping a player to another team, where he said that if they like the player, they’re keeping him for themselves. I believe that Methot may have been one of those players that he was talking about.

 

Philadelphia Flyers: Jordan Weal, 25, C

Weak would be a good addition as Vegas seeks more young forwards. Wouldn’t be surprised if Michael Raffl is the pick here either.

 

Pittsburgh Penguins: Marc-Andre Fleury, 32, G

Fleury is the slam dunk, home run pick for Las Vegas, and is sure to be their starting goaltender come opening night, and the first face of the franchise. It also looks that they’d be getting something from Pittsburgh to take Fleury, so not much to debate here.

Fleury

Three time Stanley Cup Champion Marc-Andre Fleury appears to be Vegas Bound. (Via PPG)

 

San Jose Sharks: Brendan Dillon, 26, D

Dillon would be a good pick in this spot, being just 26, and carrying a manageable 3.27 million cap hit.

 

St. Louis Blues: David Perron, 29, RW

I see this as a deadline deal for Vegas, with them flipping Perron for more picks. He could get flipped right away though.

 

Tampa Bay Lightning: Jason Garrison, 32, D

GM Steve Yzerman is looking for a way to hold on to young defensemen Slater Koekkoek and Jake Dotchin. Therefore I am projecting a side deal here with Garrison being the pick for Vegas.

 

Toronto Maple Leafs: Kerby Rychel, 22, LW

Rychel is a good pick for Vegas here because of the upside he has. He could factor as a possible trade chip in the future if it doesn’t work out in Sin City.

 

Vancouver Canucks: Reid Boucher, 23, LW

Boucher flipped around the league this season with New Jersey, Nashville, and Vancouver earlier this season after being claimed on waivers. He has a lot of upside, and so this pick will be more about potential than anything.

 

Washington Capitals: Nate Schmidt, 25, D

McPhee could take Philipp Grubauer. McPhee could take Jay Beagle or Brett Connolly. He could even take Kevin Shattenkirk if he can get him to agree to a contract during the exclusive negotiations window. But I have the Capitals going in a different direction and selecting Nate Schmidt, who is one of the best young defensemen available to the Golden Knights. The situation in Washington is interesting because Schmidt got pushed out of the lineup when the Caps traded for Shattenkirk. But Schmidt reminds me of another quick skating defenseman that came up through the system, and made the team. That was John Carlson, and if I’m George McPhee, I’d want that on my team’s blue line.

 

Winnipeg Jets: Toby Enstrom, 32, D

I believe that Toby Enstrom is a candidate for the pick-and-flip for Vegas. With so many teams looking to get a top four defenseman, Vegas could hold the cards, and look to flip him for picks, or for a player that was protected for the expansion draft.

 

 

With this team that I’ve selected, there are sure to be some trades in place before July 1, as the team with this roster will have to sign some of these players to RFA deals while staying away from the cap. McPhee has said that he sees his team in the fifties when discussing team salary. It should be interesting to see what he has up his sleeve.


Brett Malamud is a graduate of Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

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2014-15 NHL Predictions

By Brett Malamud
At last, the predictions are here! For the Metropolitan Division Preview, click here. For the Atlantic Division Preview, click here. For the Central Division Preview, click here. For the Pacific Division Preview, click here. Have a great NHL season everybody!
EAST

METROPOLITAN

1. Pittsburgh Penguins*
2. New York Rangers*
3. New York Islanders*
4. Washington Captals*
5. Columbus Blue Jackets*
6. New Jersey Devils
7. Philadelphia Flyers
8. Carolina Hurricanes

 

ATLANTIC
1. Boston Bruins*
2. Tampa Bay Lightning*
3. Montreal Canadiens*
4. Detroit Red Wings
5. Toronto Maple Leafs
6. Ottawa Senators
7. Florida Panthers
8. Buffalo Sabres

 

WILD CARD
1. Washington Capitals
2. Columbus Blue Jackets

 

The Penguins are still the team to beat in the Metropolitan. They’ll coast to the division title. The Rangers and the Islanders follow, setting up a playoff series between the two that is sure to have New Yorkers on the edge of their seats. Alex Ovechkin has 43 goals and leads the caps in as the first wild card team. The Blue Jackets take the other wild card spot.

 

The Atlantic Division standings this season remain very similar to last season’s. Tukka Rask leads the Boston Bruins to their second straight division title. Tampa Bay takes the league by storm, showcased by Jonathan Drouin and Steven Stamkos. Montreal belongs here at three, a spot they’re familiar with. The Red Wings get ousted after facing strong teams in four out of their last six games to finish the season. Phil Kessel has a good season, but the Maple Leafs do not. Florida Panthers rookie Aaron Ekblad gets sent down to juniors nine games into the season. The rebuild is in full swing for the Ottawa Senators and the Buffalo Sabres put themselves in position for Connor McDavid.

 

WEST
CENTRAL
1. Chicago Blackhawks*
2. St. Louis Blues*
3. Dallas Stars*
4. Colorado Avalanche*
5. Minnesota Wild*
6. Nashville Predators
7. Winnipeg Jets

 

PACIFIC
1. Anaheim Ducks*
2. Los Angeles Kings*
3. San Jose Sharks*
4. Vancouver Canucks
5. Arizona Coyotes
6. Edmonton Oilers
7. Calgary Flames

 

WILD CARD
1. Colorado Avalanche
2. Minnesota Wild

 

The Chicago Blackhawks win the division on the last day of the season after taking down the Blues twice in the last week of the season. The Blues settle for the second spot in the Central. The Stars leapfrog the Avalanche for the third spot, and Colorado gets knocked into the Wild Card spot. Minnesota takes the second Wild Card spot. Nashville has another big disappointment, and barely misses taking the spot from Minnesota. The Jets sets themselves up for the second pick in the draft before the lottery.

 

Anaheim takes the division after the Kings fall out the top spot when they lose four out of five games on their road trip in late March. The Sharks trade Joe Thornton on deadline day and get Patrick Marleau out earlier in the season. Tomas Hertl struggles a bit in his second NHL season, but the Sharks reach the playoffs. The Canucks just miss out on the playoffs after a stellar season from Ryan Miller. Arizona, Edmonton, and Calgary struggle and finish near the bottom of the league.

 

PLAYOFFS
 
EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
Boston Bruins over Pittsburgh Penguins
WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS
Chicago Blackhawks over Los Angeles Kings
STANLEY CUP FINALS
Chicago Blackhawks over Boston Bruins

 

Jonathan Toews will lead his team to a Stanley Cup win this season. (Via SM Sports)

Jonathan Toews will lead his team to a Stanley Cup win this season. (Via SM Sports)


Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy

Metropolitan Division 2014-15 Preview

October is upon us which means that we’re officially less than a week away from the start of the 2014-15 NHL Season. So before the season starts next Wednesday, I’ll give you a look at each of the 30 teams by division and then give you my predictions. So without further delay, let’s begin this year’s preview with the Metropolitan Division.

Carolina Hurricanes
With Jordan Staal out until at least December, the Hurricanes will have to rely on his brother Eric, who comes off of the least productive season since his rookie season, and Jeff Skinner. Carolina brought in new head coach Bill Peters as they undergo “a transition” to performing well once again. Cam Ward is still in net, and that’s great, but the Hurricanes are not expected to do much this season.

 

Columbus Blue Jackets
The Blue Jackets traded for Scott Hartnell during the offseason and that should provide an immediate improvement on the offensive end. Goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky will once again carry the team. Alexander Wennberg and Kerby Rychel are two young players that provide hope for the future. On the defensive end, Jack Johnson and James Wisniewski will man the blue line for a Blue Jackets team that hopes to return back to the playoffs.

 

New Jersey Devils
The Devils made some great offseason additions, bringing in Mike Cammalleri and Martin Havlat. Adding them to a forwards group that includes Jaromir Jagr, Travis Zajac and Patrick Elias turns the Devils into an intriguing team. The team said goodbye to the NHL’s all-time winningest goaltender Martin Brodeur at the end of this season. They’ll instead opt for Cory Schneider to become the full time starter in net and brought in Scott Clemmensen to be his backup. It’ll be interesting to see how the Devils compete with the rest of the division.
Mike Cammalleri will have a fresh start, as he joins the Devils (Via Bruce Bennett/Getty)

Mike Cammalleri will have a fresh start, as he joins the Devils (Via Bruce Bennett/Getty)

 

New York Islanders
This preview was scheduled to go up earlier this morning. However, there were rumblings  that Garth Snow was on the phone with a few teams and so I held off on it. The Islanders acquired Nick Leddy from Chicago and Johnny Boychuk from Boston this afternoon, changing the face of the team. Here’s the updated preview:

 

The Isles went out this offseason and brought in some great players. In free agency, the Islanders signed former Toronto Maple Leafs Mikhail Grabovski and Nikolai Kulemin, who could possibly be paired on the second line. Grabovski may also be used on the number one power play line alongside John Tavares and Kyle Okposo. On defense, the recent acquisitions of Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy prove that GM Garth Snow is playing to win now. They also have Griffin Reinhart and Calvin de Haan, providing hope for the future. In goal, the Islanders situation may have finally been settled. Jaroslav Halak will take over for Evgeni Nabokov, who signed with Tampa Bay. Former Boston Bruins net minder Chad Johnson was also brought in and will likely serve as Halak’s backup. For the first time in recent Islanders history, they’ll have two polished veteran goalies. The Islanders will be playing at Nassau Coliseum for the final season and the stakes are going to be high, so the Isles look to go out in style and reach the playoffs.

 

New York Rangers
The Rangers lost a bunch of key players this Summer including Brad Richards, Anton Stralman, Brian Boyle, Benoit Pouliot and Derek Dorsett. Their only major signing was 38 year old defenseman Dan Boyle. Henrik Lundqvist will still be great in net but it should be interesting to see how head coach Alain Vigneault makes his lines, especially after losing top center Derek Stepan to a fractured fibula.

 

Philadelphia Flyers
The Flyers haven’t had much going for them since going to the Stanley Cup Finals a few seasons ago. They added Michael Del Zotto and R.J. Umberger. They also have Steve Mason in net and are hoping that he improve this season. They’ll struggle but it’ll be fun to watch the line of Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek, and Wayne Simmonds.

 

Pittsburgh Penguins
The Penguins added Patric Hornqvist, Steve Downie, Blake Comeau and Christian Ehrhoff to an already deadly threat in the Eastern Conference. The power play is always fantastic and with a line like Malkin, Crosby and Hornqvist, I believe that it’ll be the best in the league this season.

 

Washington Capitals
New coach Barry Trotz is defensive minded and that should help the offensive powered Capitals. The additions of Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen make for a crowded blue line in our nation’s capital. They’ll join John Carlson and Mike Green on defense. Calder trophy candidate Evgeny Kuznetsov should make a huge splash into the NHL and could see time on the power play with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.

Brett Malamud is a Computer Science Major at Binghamton University. He is the co-founder of dabuzzza.com. His favorite athletes are Derek Jeter and Todd Bertuzzi. You can follow him on twitter at @brettnyy