Expansion Draft Three Thoughts

The NHL Expansion Draft is now complete. The Vegas Golden Knights have their initial roster. They selected 30 players and traded for a few more. By the end of the night Vegas ended up with 12 picks in the 2017 draft. Five of those picks are in the first two rounds. Here are some quick thoughts on what took place tonight.

  • Why on earth did Florida give up Reily Smith just to lose a 30 goal scorer in Jonathan Marchessault? I get that Florida is not a cap team, but in my mind you cannot justify giving up a player who is just a year removed from a 50 point season in a third line role. Smith will bring some needed depth scoring to Vegas right away. To me this was the worse trade of the night for a team losing a player to the Golden Knights. While yes, the Panthers gained five million dollars in cap room, they lost two promising players who can score with some regularity. The Panthers still have a bright outlook next year, but they now need a bit more out of their up and comers and have to hope Jaromir Jagr comes back for another season. Florida just gave up 88 points between the two from last season to rid themselves of five million dollars in cap room.
  • Look for Vegas to pick up another goalie or more shortly. Tonight they selected Calvin Pickard, Marc-Andre Fleury, and J.F Berube. Berube was selected as part of a deal with the Islanders where Vegas also took on the contract of injured forward Mikhail Grabovski, and Jake Bischoff. The former Isles goalie has an expiring contract, and Vegas needs multiple goalies for its AHL and ECHL teams. Pickard is a serviceable backup that can start when called upon. Look for the Golden Knights to draft multiple goalies as well. Jake Oettinger out of Boston University would be one possible choice for them. He could move through their system quickly and start for them in three years.
  • Vegas has a lot of options with some of the players it picked up. Teams are willing to pay a premium for quality defenseman like Marc Methot, and Vegas wants more picks and assets to help them build for the future. Dallas has let teams know they are looking at moving their third pick and need help on their blue line. The Golden Knights have plenty of options and could put together a package to get that pick.



Season Review/Look Ahead-Chris Wilkie

Throughout the year, Fighting Hawks forward Chris Wilkie steadily improved. Wilkie is a fast forward with a decent shot and outstanding sense of where to be on the ice. The Omaha,NE native had a nine point season in 32 games. While the Florida Panthers’ sixth pick has a great shot,he often did not find himself able to fire many shots on net as he finished the year with a mere 45 shots on goal. One reason for this is Wilkie’s height at 5′ 11″. He routinely lost puck battles in the corners this year to more physical players. While UND alums like Rocco Grimaldi have proven that height does not always matter, they did so with a consistently high motor,and through adding strength each year. Wilkie still has plenty of time improve his strength and overall motor to help win more puck battles.


Look for Wilkie to improve dramatically this year, as he will receive more power play time, and have another full summer at UND under his belt.The Panthers prospect improved dramatically from his second to third year in the USHL scoring an additional 19 points (55 point season).Look for the same to happen this season. Wilkie will score at least 19 more points than last year.

As Wilkie develops, his high skill and outstanding shot will be seen as his ice time increases. Wilkie has a ceiling of a top six forward who can put the puck in the net after blazing by defenders with his outstanding speed.If  the Panthers pick can have a 40-50 point season this year the Panthers should come knocking.If Wilkie does not reach 40 points look for him to spend at least one more season with the Fighting Hawks. Florida has a ton of outstanding wingers in its system and one day Wilkie will join that group.He still has some work to do. At his best, Wilkie could one day play a style of game similar to future Hall of Famer Martin St. Louis.

Stats: http://www.eliteprospects.com/player.php?player=120644