In an NBC article dated May 26, 2018, James O’Brien looks at the journey of the Vegas Golden Knights. They had an element of exploiting the mistakes the team made in the past. Vegas absorbed other GM’s mistakes e.g. the contract awarded to David Clarkson.
The team wasn’t built with the thought of 2017 and 2018 in mind. Instead, it stock-piled a slew of picks. They agreed not to select unprotected players. They also agreed to trade some of their picks to other teams after the draft. They received a pick in the Panthers situation. Stockpiling defenseman was a big part of the plan. At first, there were low chances of first-season success. But afterward, it picked up.
Back in 2017, the player that carried its future was Marc-Andre Fleury. He gave his best in the playoffs and during the regular season. Sometimes he has looked superhuman. His team expectations were on him. He was fantastic yet injuries were a limiting factor. He was only able to play 46 regular season games. Other goalies got hurt also but they were still winners of the Pacific Division.
Other key players included James Neal and David Perron. Those who expected Neal to go down in history as Vegas’ best scorer were wrong. Neal was good, only that a few factors caused an unlikely first line to emerge.
At one time, George McPhee flipped Forsberg for Martin Erat. His capitals hoped to get over the hump for a playoff run. The management misdiagnosed Forsberg’s potential. During, before and after the expansion draft, similar situations happened.
When Forsberg was yet to get to the level of NHL, William Karlsson showed more potential. Blue Jackets instead bribed McPhee into not taking players like Jonas Korpisalo. They didn’t realize Karlsson would soon be Vegas’ Forsberg.
So that they could select Erik Haula, The Wild gave Vegas Tuch.
Sometimes, there were ulterior motives behind decisions. Sometimes, the gains overwhelmed the losses. McPhee’s supplementing of expansion draft selections with shrewd side deals helped. Without him, Golden Knight’s dynamic state would be non-existent.