Vegas Golden Knights to rest of NHL: 'Negotiate your way out of this if you wish'

Plenty of questions remain as the NHL's first expansion draft in nearly two decades draws near.

Which of the most notable veterans left unprotected by the league's existing 30 teams will land with the upstart Vegas Golden Knights? Will the NHL's 31st franchise dip into the pool of pending free agents to headline its roster? The list goes on.

One question that should already be answered, however, is this: Will the Golden Knights come away from this week victorious?

Time will obviously tell whether any of Vegas' moves pay off on ice in the team's first few seasons, let alone the inaugural 2017-18 campaign.

But the expansion draft setup and the flurry of activity it has already spawned should make it clear that if any team is going to win this week of the offseason, it's the Golden Knights.

Picking one player from each of the league's other teams is enough to give ex-Washington Capitals general manager George McPhee some talent to work with, especially when the crop of available veterans includes proven starters like Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury and young commodities like Florida's Jonathan Marchessault . But as TSN's Frank Seravalli notes, McPhee and the Golden Knights are also in a unique position of bargaining with, well, literally the entire NHL.

That's because Vegas not only has the power to purge one player from 30 teams but also has the potential to mortgage other teams' unprotected assets at the wishes of other interested parties. The possibility of such frenetic roster turnover across the league may have fueled the Montreal Canadiens ' recent blockbuster trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning for Jonathan Drouin , and, per Seravalli, it's already prompted a number of other handshake agreements.

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Jonathan Drouin was shipped out of Tampa Bay in advance of the expansion draft. USATSI

"It is believed that Vegas already has consideration deals arranged with Anaheim (to lay off Sami Vatanen and Josh Manson ), with Columbus (to lay off Joonas Korpisalo , Josh Anderson and Jack Johnson ), with the New York Islanders (to lay off Josh Bailey and Casey Cizikas ) and Chicago (to take on Marcus Kruger )," Seravalli reports for TSN. "Columbus is believed to be parting with the No. 24 overall pick in this week's draft, the Islanders with a first-round pick, the Chicago Blackhawks with Trevor van Riemsdyk and a sizable package from Anaheim -- since the Anaheim Ducks don't have a first-round pick this season, but a bevy of young depth on (defense) from which to deal."

Those anticipated moves alone would ensure Vegas will be sitting pretty with draft capital after this week. And that's not even taking into consideration follow-up trades they might consider once they've stocked their inaugural roster with bargain-bin breakout candidates like Marchessault.

McPhee's message to GMs across the NHL, from Seravalli, says it all.

"You can negotiate your way out of this if you wish."

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