Introducing your projected Las Vegas expansion team roster

With a 31st franchise coming to Las Vegas for the 2017-18 season, hockey fans across the globe are plotting their next Sin City weekend. The news wasn't quite as welcomed by NHL general managers, whose jobs got more difficult with an upcoming expansion draft. For Las Vegas' inaugural season, teams must expose two forwards and one defenseman under contract who played at least 40 games the previous season or 70 total games in the previous two seasons. Defensemen will be tougher to keep, while teams can secure only a single goalie. There is plenty of player movement in the coming days, but here is a look at our proposed roster for the Las Vegas -- Rampage? Warriors? Blue Knights? Flying Elvi? One of these? -- if we were drafting today for the 2017-18 season. (Check out salary-cap numbers at the bottom of the story.)


As in some previous expansion drafts, there could be good goalies available. Las Vegas' yet-to-be-named GM will be paying close attention to the Detroit Red Wings' Jimmy Howard (who has a limited no-trade clause in his contract) and the Pittsburgh Penguins' Marc-Andre Fleury (who has a limited no-movement clause) while also monitoring the complicated goaltending situation of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Frederik Andersen was a potential match with Las Vegas until he was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs and signed an extension.

Steve Mason: Michal Neuvirth's 2016 playoff performance might have spelled the end for Mason with the Philadelphia Flyers. With a crowded goalie market this summer, Mason might have to start over elsewhere.

Jaroslav Halak: Much in the same way Neuvirth's emergence made Mason expendable for the Flyers, Thomas Greiss' recent playoff run and cheaper price tag could do the same for Halak with the New York Islanders.


The newest franchise should have a nice selection of veteran defensemen to choose from. The Vegas blue line -- and the entire expansion draft -- could hinge on what the Nashville Predators do with captain Shea Weber, who will carry a $8 million cap hit in 2017-18.

Brooks Orpik: With the Washington Capitals' core solidified, Orpik will be 36 in 2017 and already has plenty of miles on the odometer. In other words, he is the perfect veteran for an expansion team.

Tyler Myers: Assuming the Winnipeg Jets commit to the younger Jacob Trouba, Myers could be expendable, especially because his no-movement clause wasn't a factor when he was traded by the Buffalo Sabres.

Marc Methot: With Dion Phaneuf and Erik Karlsson locking down the Ottawa Senators' blue line and Cody Ceci emerging, Methot is the odd man out.

Adam McQuaid: The rugged defenseman brings plenty of big game experience from the Boston Bruins.

Jack Johnson: The Columbus Blue Jackets are building their defense around Seth Jones and Ryan Murray, which means it could be time for Johnson to start fresh.

Kevin Klein: The New York Rangers' impressive depth means a pretty good veteran defenseman could be available. Dan Girardi's no-trade clause means it will likely be Klein.

John Moore: No stranger to being moved, Moore has skated for four teams in the past four seasons. At 25, he showed his versatility last season with the New Jersey Devils.

Paul Martin: The San Jose Sharks could be forced to choose between Martin and Justin Braun. The older and more expensive of the two, Martin has been reliable his entire career and played an important role beside Brent Burns in San Jose.


Fans excited by the prospective available talent in net and on defense might want to stop reading. As is tradition in the modern expansion era, the newest team will be severely disadvantaged up front, which explains why seven of the past nine expansion teams have taken a forward with their first overall draft pick.

Dustin Brown: If the Los Angeles Kings can't move their former captain, Brown's future could be in Las Vegas. Despite his recent struggles, he could be a perfect captain on a new team within driving distance of L.A.

Brad Richardson: A two-way veteran winger coming off a career-best 31-point season with the Arizona Coyotes, Richardson is the kind of player a new team will rely on to keep games close.

Mikael Backlund: The Calgary Flames' depth on defense makes them susceptible to losing a good player up front, especially with young star forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan being protected. Coming off his first 20-goal season, Backlund could assume a scoring role on an expansion team.

Craig Smith: If they keep Weber, the Predators will likely protect four defensemen. The end result could be that Smith becomes a top-six forward for Vegas.

Benoit Pouliot: Sure, Pouliot's contract makes him risky. But it is Las Vegas, after all.

Eric Fehr: A respected depth forward everywhere he has played, Fehr could bring championship experience to a team that would desperately need it.

Ryan Reaves: A team forced to make up for lack of scoring with size and toughness would benefit from having Reaves, who developed in a winning program with the St. Louis Blues.

Peter Holland: The Toronto Maple Leafs could look completely different next season. Holland won't be the only player on that team to benefit from a change of scenery.

Patrick Eaves: Although he was an important depth piece on a great Dallas Stars team last season, Eaves could be tough to retain. Jamie Benn and Patrick Sharp are entering free agency in 2017, which secures a Stars core without Eaves.

Andrew Cogliano: A veteran winger with great skating ability who excels at killing penalties could come in handy for an expansion team.

Paul Byron: Byron earned a three-year extension with the Montreal Canadiens after he was picked up on waivers, and he provides the kind of speed and penalty killing that expansion teams covet.

Derek Dorsett: The NHL leader last season with 177 penalty minutes, Dorsett brings plenty of toughness to a team that will have to make up with physicality what it might lack in skill.

Cody McLeod: This franchise won't be getting pushed around with the intimidating McLeod, one of the NHL's active leaders in penalty minutes.