Golden Knights open to making deals before expansion draft

General manager George McPhee says the Vegas Golden Knights are open for business to any teams seeking to protect their players in the upcoming NHL expansion draft.

McPhee told The Associated Press he already had preliminary discussions with most teams over what trades could be made before the draft is held in Las Vegas on June 21, two days before the traditional draft. Without going into much detail, McPhee said talks have focused on which players teams would prefer the Golden Knights either select or don't.

In exchange, McPhee is open to acquiring draft picks to begin stockpiling for depth. The team opens its first season in October.

"If they want to give us draft picks to encourage us to take a certain player or leave another player alone, we're open-minded and we're going to listen to everyone," McPhee said. "You usually build your team, historically, through the entry draft, so we'd certainly be interested in acquiring picks."

He's also hoping for a little luck when the NHL holds its draft lottery Saturday.

"That would be so like Vegas in its first lottery, winning it," McPhee said. "That would be something."

McPhee confirmed he had what he called "productive talks" with Buffalo Sabres general manager Tim Murray in February. No agreement was reached and those discussions are now in limbo after Murray was fired last week.

McPhee expects to resume talks with the Sabres once they have a new administration in place. Before he was fired, Murray hinted at having a possible deal in place with Vegas.

The Golden Knights will select once player from each team to fill out a 30-player roster made up of 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies. Teams can protect between nine and 11 players, including a goaltender. First- and second-year players are also exempt.

As for Saturday's draft lottery, the Golden Knights and Arizona Coyotes have each been awarded a 10.3 percent chance of winning, giving them the third-best shot at landing the No. 1 pick in the draft in June. The Colorado Avalanche, with an 18 percent chance, have the best odds after finishing with the league's worst record this season, followed by the Vancouver Canucks (12.1 percent chance).

At worst, the Golden Knights will select no lower than No. 6.

"We'll go in there having our fingers crossed," said McPhee, who will attend the lottery drawing in Toronto. "This will be another first for us."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.