The NHL expansion draft is still nearly three months away, but speculation is already rampant regarding which players Vegas Golden Knights General Manager George McPhee will select. McPhee gets to take one player from every team, and ESPN’s hockey analysts have unanimously predicted his pick from the Capitals will be backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer.
Grubauer is one of four players to appear on all four mock drafts proposed by Scott Burnside, Craig Custance, Pierre LeBrun and Joe McDonald. The others are Carolina Hurricanes forward Lee Stempniak, Minnesota Wild defenseman Jonas Brodin, and LA Kings defenseman Brayden McNabb.
Back in February, Peter noted that Grubauer’s potential as a starting netminder in the desert reduces the exposure of middle-lineup players like Dmitry Orlov and Andre Burakovsky. And the Caps have a solid goalie pipeline with Ilya Samsonov and Vitek Vanacek both playing well.
The ESPN analysts did include one significant caveat to their predictions: McPhee could decide to forgo choosing the best available players in favor of dealmaking. From ESPN:
A few caveats: In the real expansion draft, the Knights likely won’t be taking the best possible players, but rather will optimize the entire process in terms of acquiring assets. In other words, they might agree not to take some of the players we’ve listed in exchange for a side deal that nets them a draft pick and/or prospect. Or McPhee might work a deal to take an exposed player with a bigger contract, provided he gets other assets in return.
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