George McPhee is not sure how many deals he has in place heading into Wednesday’s expansion draft.
He does know there’s a high number.
The Golden Knights’ general manager, in his last session with the media before the expansion draft, announced there are at least six deals in place for assurance Vegas won’t take certain players on Wednesday. Some have already been reported, like the New York Islanders and Columbus Blue Jackets, but the Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks may get into the mix.
The Tampa Bay Lightning also may have a deal in place with Vegas, it was reported Tuesday.
McPhee said the process of selecting the roster has gone well and he plans to submit the list to the league at 6:55 a.m. Wednesday, five minutes before the deadline.
“We’re in a really good place as far as timing,” he said.
McPhee enforced a 9 p.m. PT deadline Monday for teams who wished to protect their players. He said some clubs experienced travel and communication issues at the deadline, and McPhee will speak to those respective clubs Tuesday.
As far as the construction of the roster itself, McPhee said they have stocked up on quality defensemen and centers. Goaltending is also a strength in McPhee’s eyes, more than likely centered on Pittsburgh Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury, although McPhee gave no confirmation.
“There will be guys we hope will be core players for a long time,” he said.
Once the Golden Knights have a roster in place, don’t expect the deals to stop. McPhee wants to get that roster to the minimum 23 players, and said he’ll be open to trades for some selections he deems as “throw away picks.” There’s also the possibility of selecting young prospects and stashing them in Chicago or Quad City, but the phones will continue to ring.
When all is done, McPhee expects to field a solid team that will compete right away. After that, he’ll attempt to sleep.
“I woke up at 3:10 and was like, ‘Boing, here we go,” he said.