Devils' Merrill selected in expansion draft

Devils' Merrill selected in expansion draft

Devils' Merrill selected in expansion draft

It was announced by Bill Foley, the Vegas team's owner, after which it became public that the Penguins also sent a second-round pick in the 2020 NHL Draft to complete the transation.

The Golden Knights paid $500-million to plant a hockey team in the desert and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman changed the expansion draft process to help ensure it grows a fan base.

Some of the selections were leaked to the media earlier in the day, which gave the Knights' night something of an anti-climactic feel. Character in the room and physicality are not to be downplayed in the National Hockey League, but were the Golden Knights really going to select Reaves, a player with 27 career goals and 695 penalty minutes in 419 career games?

The Golden Knights' expansion draft choices included 30-goal scorer Jonathan Marchessault, veteran forwards James Neal and David Perron, and defensemen Marc Methot, Alexei Emelin, Nate Schmidt, Trevor van Riemsdyk and Brayden McNabb.

"I was reading a lot about what was happening with the team, with the staff, with the organization", Fleury said.

The alternative was probably picking an RFA then declining to qualify him, so I guess you can see where this one came from.

The Golden Knights selected one player from each of the 30 National Hockey League teams to create their roster.

James Neal's production has dropped in recent years, but he did once score 40 goals.

Fleury was one of three goalies taken in the expansion draft - Calvin Pickard (Colorado Avalanche) and Jean-Francois Berube (New York Islanders) were the other two - but Fleury is the presumptive starter. Vegas fans have waited long enough to have a major professional sports team; waiting a few more years until that team contends should be a breeze, by comparison.

"There was a lot of unknown for me with changing a team", Fleury said. By the time you read this, the Golden Knights roster could look very different than it did on Wednesday night. Veteran goalie Marc-Andre Fleury of the Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins was chosen in the final round exactly 14 years since he was originally drafted No. 1 overall in the 2003 NHL Draft.

"I always like to get out there", Fleury said. That's to be expected somewhat because they don't have any stars, but Vegas didn't really pick the best crop of forwards they could, leaving a stud like Eric Staal out there in favour of signing Erik Haula for example, was a weird one.

The Penguins tweeted out a photo of Fleury and Sidney Crosby "hugging it out" backstage at the award show, which was held in Las Vegas. He played in parts of five seasons with the Ice, scoring 50 times and adding 126 assists in 258 games.

Besides just shooting, the Golden Knights, as now constructed, are going to have trouble with pre-shot movement next year, ranking 24th in the league in completed passes to the slot and 29th in passes off the rush. "They don't have to fly back and forth anywhere and they get to stay in the school they're already in". Foley has said that Vegas hopes to be in the playoffs by its third season and head coach Gerard Gallant told Postmedia News this week that a Stanley Cup appearance is the goal for 2023 or 2024.

Contractually, the players the Golden Knights selected had to have an aggregate dollar value of 60 to 100 per cent of the prior season's upper salary cap limit, which was $73-million (U.S.). In exchange, Vegas received promising young defenceman Shea Theodore from the Ducks to flesh out the deal. It makes sense if they view Neal not as a player, but as an asset.

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