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Vegas Golden Knights hold cards as NHL expansion draft looms

George McPhee might as well be The Godfather of the NHL during the Vegas Golden Knights’ three-day expansion draft window.He holds the cards for a significant chunk of the league’s talent, fielding calls from fellow general managers willing to trade something to keep McPhee from plucking certain players from their rosters, or to take someone from another team to flip in a deal.All trade roads run through Vegas. And every move has its price.“Whatever you want to give us has to be better than what we can claim from that club,” McPhee said in Las Vegas on Sunday. “Then we’re going to go to that club and say: ‘We have interest in this player, there’s another club that has interest in this player. How do we want to do this? How can we protect your roster? You can negotiate your way out of this if you wish.’”He emphasized that each team will be contacted and given the opportunity to have a say in protecting its roster.Article Continued BelowBeyond building likely the most competitive expansion team in NHL history, McPhee has the golden opportunity to play some desperate teams against each other and build up a collection of draft picks and other assets. Vegas must pick one player from each of the existing 30 teams, but there’s only so much room on the roster next season even with some minor league prospects thrown in.Vegas could easily get its franchise goaltender in Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury, a top-line scoring winger with 10 20-goal seasons in Nashville’s James Neal and a top-pairing defenceman in Ottawa’s Marc Methot while also picking up some potentially high draft picks for laying off young talent from Anaheim, Columbus and the New York Islanders.Shortly after protected lists were released Sunday morning, GMs began calling McPhee to try to poach available players from other teams. Opportunistic GMs can feed the Golden Knights’ future to get a player who otherwise wouldn’t be on the trade market.

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