The Elbow staff
With the Vegas Golden Knights' expansion draft – their debutante ball, if you will – fast approaching, The Elbow is taking an in-depth look at who will be lining up this fall for the NHL's 31st team, and why.
You've probably read hundreds of well thought-out think pieces and essays about the machinations of this draft, but look no further. Put your house on these picks. We present to you, the results of the 2017 Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft.
After Marc-Andre Fleury is dragged kicking and screaming from the Penguins in a pre-draft trade, the Golden Knights will be looking for a few backups to help support the Flower, both on the ice, and emotionally off it.
Philipp Grubauer – Washington Capitals
According to reports, 'Gruby' is a kindhearted and tender soul who will be perfect for helping Fleury adjust to life outside of Pittsburgh. He's been known as the mommy of the Capitals for the past few seasons, and has taken an active role in lining up fun activities to help cheer up the boys after getting bounced in the second round of the playoffs. Rumours are that he also makes a killer lasagne. A perfect backup to Fleury.
Antti Niemi – Dallas Stars
The Vegas management group wants its fans to be able to appreciate what having a competent goaltender is like. That relief will be felt the first time anyone else takes the cage after a few games with Niemi.
Antti Raanta – New York Rangers
After a brilliant season backing up Henrik Lundqvist, Raanta finally gets his chance to be a number one goaltender. He will be a fantastic addition to the Chicago Wolves roster.
The 2000 NHL expansion draft saw big-name blue liners such as Bert Robertsson, Tommi Rajamaki, and Ladislav Benysek selected. It's hard to believe, but the defencemen chose this time around might be even better.
Oliver Ekman-Larsson – Arizona Coyotes
Being the numbers guy that he is, Coyotes GM John Chayka assigns a random number generator to do the job of making his protected players list. Truth be told, that "random number generator" was just a bunch of Bingo balls he found in his mom's basement.
Marc Methot – Ottawa Senators
After suffering an horrific finger injury at the end of the regular season, the big blue liner will be tasked with showing it off to as many young Golden Knights players as possible. Sources from within the organization indicate that Methot – a perfect embodiment of playing hockey the way it should be played™ – will be required to dress up the stump and entertain the players' children with finger puppet shows each week.
Justin Falk – Buffalo Sabres
Confusing him for the 25-year-old who had 20 powerplay points a couple of seasons ago, the Golden Knights will be over the moon with this pick. That is, until he hits the ice for the first time.
Michal Rozsival – Chicago Blackhawks
As it turns out, Vegas GM George McPhee was a closeted fan of the Penguins' X Generation over a decade ago. While Rozsival left the team just before that era officially kicked off, McPhee loves the hype and excitement that he brings to the teams he plays on. Rumours are, the team is also pursuing free agents Konstantin Koltsov and Rico Fata.
Jordie Benn – Montreal Canadiens
According to sources within the Canadiens organization, Jordie boasted to his teammates about being the brother of Jamie "thousands" of times in the three months since his arrival from Dallas. Several Habs players have been threatened by the d-man, who said he would get his brother to beat them up, resulting in GM Marc Bergevin leaving him unprotected.
Jonas Brodin – Minnesota Wild
After learning that everyone in the hockey media (even including the last remaining hockey analyst left at ESPN) predicts that Brodin will be the perfect fit to his team, McPhee and his staff have no option but to select the defenceman.
Luca Sbisa – Vancouver Canucks
Every team needs its fair share of first-round busts. With Jake Virtanen more than ready to take over that lead role in Vancouver next season, Sbisa becomes movable, and would be a huge asset to the Golden Knights who are looking for the franchise's first bust.
Joe Morrow – Boston Bruins
Boston's lucky number 7th defenceman had a rough season, but gets the chance to redefine what sort of player he is, with most pundits believing he's well on his way to redefining himself from blue chip prospect to career minor leaguer in record time.
Tyler Wotherspoon – Calgary Flames
A big fan of his sister Reese, GM George McPhee hopes this gets him a legitimate shot at an autograph for his basement wall.
Reid Duke has been waiting patiently for some offensively-minded friends to join him for a couple of months. Here is the list of rag-tag merry men that will be ensuring he doesn't play a single NHL game in 2017-18.
John Tavares – New York Islanders
After failing to re-sign his captain to the patented DiPietro contract he tries out on all of his star free agents, GM Garth Snow gets fed up with the 26-year-old's negotiating tactics and forces him to waive his no-movement clause. Snow's frustration with Tavares reaches a boiling point after the centreman tells him he was a better goaltender than he is a general manager.
Dustin Brown – Los Angeles Kings
Since being replaced by Anze Kopitar as captain last year, Brown has spent the past 12 months trying to sabotage the Slovenian at every opportunity. Some of his subversive tactics include constantly referring to Kopitar's home country as Slovakia, as well as inviting all of his teammates except for the captain to his birthday at Chuck E. Cheese in November.
Nikita Kucherov – Tampa Bay Lightning
After finally employing a Russian translator to follow the forward around, management was actually able to figure out what he was saying all along. None of it can be published in this family-friendly publication.
The Goal Cannon – Columbus Blue Jackets
In need desperate need to find an identity, the Golden Knights opt to select the only thing that gives the Blue Jackets theirs.
Lee Stempniak – Carolina Hurricanes
The addition of the league's 31st team gives Stempniak the chance to do the unthinkable for a player with his skill set: break a record. Vegas would be his 11th team, putting him just one behind journeyman Mike Sillinger. Expect him to break that record by November 2017.
Riley Sheahan – Detroit Red Wings
Every team needs a whipping boy, and Vegas has been given a gift in Sheahan. The 25-year-old managed to go 79 games without scoring a single goal last season, only to pot two in the final game. Get your bronx cheers ready, Vegas!
Jakob Silfverberg – Anaheim Ducks
After failing to trade one of his defencemen away, Ducks GM Bob Murray gets flustered and picks the guy whose name he still can't pronounce.
Bernie the St. Bernard – Colorado Avalanche
Although St. Bernard comes with his well-documented baggage, the canine has plenty to offer his new teammates. With a compete level not seen in Denver since the Sakic days, he'll keep fans on the edge of their seats all game long.
Tyler Pitlick – Edmonton Oilers
Vegas is one big circus, and every circus needs its freaks. Pitlick will be charged with entertaining the fans from the penalty box with his signature Pitlick, the trick his family was named after.
Martin Erat – Nashville Predators
After successfully robbing Washington with the trade for Filip Forsberg four years ago, the Preds ask for another favour out of forward Martin Erat. Seeing this as a golden opportunity, George McPhee scoops up the 35-year-old in the hopes that he'll provide his team with a boost in the playoffs.
David Perron – St. Louis Blues
After a strict team rule of No Douchey Visors was put into place last month, GM Doug Armstrong has no choice but to leave Perron unprotected.
Dustin Byfuglien – Winnipeg Jets
After being repeatedly told that he's never allowed to take faceoffs, Big Buff waives his NMC in the hopes of playing for someone that will let him improve the craft.
Derek MacKenzie – Florida Panthers
As is tradition, every expansion team needs a captain whose name will be forgotten in a few years, and MacKenzie gifts the franchise that chance. At the same time, the Panthers are able to let him go in a dignified manner, just like the girl whose ugly first boyfriend moved out of state because of his dad's work.
Devante Smith-Pelley – New Jersey Devils
Every GM loves to trot out the mantra "You can't teach size" when speaking to the media. Smith-Pelley will give George McPhee plenty of opportunities to use the line when he fails to crack 20 points each of the next few years.
Joe Thornton & Brent Burns' beards – San Jose Sharks
The beards of Thornton and Burns bring with them years of playoff experience including a long run to the cup finals last year. Once surgically removed from their faces, the beards can be used interchangeably on various players in the lineup.
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare – Philadelphia Flyers
Looking to increase their reach in uptapped European markets, the Golden Knights select one of the three French players in the NHL. It will act as a signal to all cheese makers that "The official Brie of the Vegas Golden Knights" is still open to the best offer.
Colby Armstrong – Pittsburgh Penguins
After signing a month-long contract with his old team, Colby is picked by Vegas and entrusted with being Marc-Andre Fleury's father away from home. In a transitioning role with foster mom Phillipp Grubauer, Armstrong will teach the netminder how Fleury likes his grilled cheese sandwiches on game day, and the best way to tuck him in at night.
Eric Fehr – Toronto Maple Leafs
The Leafs become the luckiest team in the league, by not losing a single player to the expansion draft.