LAS VEGAS — It’s official. George McPhee is channeling his inner Marlon Brando.
Teams will get a chance to keep their rosters intact. They will get a courtesy call. But if teams want to keep their players, it may come with offers they can’t refuse.
That’s the Vegas Golden Knights’ mantra, just as it was with the team’s statement on Saturday.
“Every team in this league has a chance to protect their roster,” McPhee told the media on Sunday, hours after the league released protection lists from all 30 teams for this week’s expansion draft. “We won’t claim any player until we’ve talked to that team.”
Protection lists were unveiled at 7:30 a.m. Sunday. Those lists were locked in at noon Saturday with the league undergoing a roster freeze. While teams were making last-minute trades, the Golden Knights waited back to watch things unfold. Teams called Vegas to find out what it would take to persuade the Golden Knights not to take particular players.
One of those teams, reportedly, was the Columbus Blue Jackets offering this year’s first-round pick to Vegas. The New York Islanders are another team reportedly willing to give up a first-round pick if the Golden Knights won’t take a forward.
“Mostly the other clubs have been the aggressors (in trade talks),” McPhee said, adding that the Golden Knights have “lots of things lined up,” but nothing will happen until something happens.
McPhee also expected this to happen. He knew once the roster freeze went into effect, the Golden Knights would hold all the cards at the proverbial poker table. Scott Burnside of the Dallas Stars called McPhee “the most powerful man in hockey” for the next few days.
That’s pretty much true.
“We knew that when we got into the expansion window, that we would have control,” he said.
Over the next 72 hours, the Golden Knights will be courteous and do their due diligence. But in the end, it’ll be up to the Godfather on how he constructs the mafia.