Fleury among players selected in expansion draft for Vegas Golden Knights
The Vegas Golden Knights finally have some players to put on the desert ice this fall.
Stanley Cup-winning goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, defensemen Marc Methot and Alexei Emelin, 30-goal scorer Jonathan Marchessault and forwards David Perron and James Neal are among the veterans selected by the Golden Knights in the NHL expansion draft Wednesday night.
Golden Knights owner Bill Foley and general manager George McPhee announced their choices during the NHL's annual postseason awards show at T-Mobile Arena, where Vegas will begin play in the fall.
Fleury took the stage in a Golden Knights jersey to wild cheers from his new home fans. The three-time Cup winner lost his starting job with the back-to-back champion Penguins, but he'll get to start over in the desert with two years on his contract.
The picks included defensemen Trevor van Riemsdyk and Brayden McNabb, forward Oscar Lindberg .
The Golden Knights also announced additional acquisitions of a handful of veterans and free agents, including Anaheim defenseman Shea Theodore and Florida forward Reilly Smith.
The NHL wrote its draft rules to give the Golden Knights more opportunities to compete early in their existence, and their expansion draft choices certainly appear to form a solid core that could make noise in the Pacific Division.
"They're way past getting off the ground," Nashville general manager David Poile said. "I think this is by far the best expansion team ever."
Thousands of fans braved 116-degree afternoon heat to gather on the south end of the Strip for the unique combination of the awards show and the chance to learn the identities of the home team's first NHL veterans. The Golden Knights are Las Vegas' first franchise in a major professional sport.
After meeting with the Board of Governors earlier in the day, Foley said he was already "very proud" of the roster assembled by McPhee.
"I believe we've put together a great team from the net out," Foley said. "I believe fans are really going to like the team, and the trades and the draft picks and the prospects that we have. It's not just a player per team. In many cases, it might have been two players a team. It might have been an upgraded draft pick plus a player, all kinds of different situations."
The expansion draft is a celebratory night, but it only reveals a portion of the franchise-building done by McPhee over the past few months.
The Golden Knights were allowed to reveal certain trades made with other teams to dissuade Vegas from picking particular players, and additional deals are likely to be revealed throughout the week.
The Golden Knights sat in a strong position created by the favorable expansion draft terms granted to Foley, who paid a $500 million expansion fee to join the league. McPhee is likely to land even more veteran players and choices before the draft wraps up in Chicago this weekend.
The Golden Knights also have signed a handful of free agents. They announced a deal with former Calgary defenseman Deryk Engelland, who still lives in Las Vegas during the offseason after playing for the ECHL's Las Vegas Wranglers a decade ago.
"My roots are here," Engelland said. "It's kind of been in the back of your mind since they announced the team. For it to finally happen, it's amazing."
Minnesota center Erik Haula, who was chosen in the expansion draft, reportedly has already agreed to a multi-year deal with Vegas.
"What surprised me was the quality of some of our forwards that we were able to get out of this situation," Foley said. "The people of Las Vegas are going to be happy with what we did. They're going to be pleasantly surprised."
Calvin Pickard, Colorado Avalanche
J.F. Berube, New York Islanders
Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh Penguins
Teemu Pulkkinen, Arizona Coyotes
William Carrier, Buffalo Sabres
Cody Eakin, Dallas Stars
Tomas Nosek, Detroit Red Wings
Jonathan Machessault, Florida Panthers
Connor Brickley, Carolina Hurricanes
Chris Thorburn, Winnipeg Jets
Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Philadelphia Flyers
James Neal, Nashville Predators
Brendan Leipsic, Toronto Maple Leafs
David Perron, St. Louis Blues
Oscar Lindberg, New York Rangers
Erik Haula, Minnesota Wild
William Karlsson, Columbus Blue Jackets
Luca Sbisa, Vancouver Canucks
Jon Merrill, New Jersey Devils
Brayden McNabb, Los Angeles Kings
Jason Garrison, Tampa Bay Lightning
Deryk Engelland, Calgary Flames
Colin Miller, Boston Bruins
Marc Methot, Ottawa Senators
David Schlemko, San Jose Sharks
Griffin Reinhart, Edmonton Oilers
Alexei Emelin, Montreal Canadiens
Clayton Stoner, Anaheim Ducks
Trevor van Riemsdyk, Chicago Blackhawks
Nate Schmidt, Washington Capitals
Acquired a 2017 sixth round pick from the Buffalo Sabres for future considerations.
Acquired F Reilly Smith from the Florida Panthers for a 2018 fourth round pick.
Acquired a 2017 fifth round pick from the Carolina Panthers for future considerations.
Acquired F Nikita Gusev and Tampa Bay Lightning's 2017 second round pick and 2018 fourth round pick for future considerations.
Acquired F Mikhail Grabovski, D Jake Bischoff and the New York Islanders 2017 first round pick and 2019 second round pick for future considerations.
Acquired F Shea Theodore from the Anaheim Ducks for future considerations.
Acquired F Alex Tuch from the Minnesota Wild for a 2017 or 2018 third round pick.
Acquired F David Clarkson and Columbus Blue Jackets 2017 first round pick and 2019 second round pick for future considerations.
Acquired Pittsburgh Penguins 2020 second round pick for future considerations.
Acquired Winnipeg Jets 2017 first round pick and 2019 third round pick for a 2017 first round pick acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets.