Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft headlined by James Neal, Cody Eakin


With their first expansion draft picks, the Vegas Golden Knights selected goalie Calvin Pickard, forwards William Carrier, Cody Eakin, Jonathan Marchessault, Teemu Pulkkinen, Tomas Nosek, and defensemen Brayden McNabb, Jon Merrill, Luca Sbisa.

James Neal was the biggest individual name revealed in the second round of expansion announcements. The veteran forward posted 41 points for the Stanley Cup Finals runner-up Nashville Predators during the regular season.

In addition to Neal, the Golden Knights also announced the selections of forwards Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Connor Brickley, Chris Thorburn, defensemen Jason Garrison and Deryk Engelland, and goalie Jean-Francois Berube.

The selection of Berube from the New York Islanders brought a windfall for the Golden Knights, as they also acquired forward Mikhail Grabovski, defenseman Jake Bischoff and two picks — a 2017 first-round selection and 2019 second-round pick from the Isles.

As part of other trades, the Knights acquired Reilly Smith from the Panthers and Nikita Gusev from the Lightning, as well as one pick each from Florida, Buffalo and Winnipeg, and two picks from Tampa Bay.

Vegas has something of a hometown talent on its roster as well, thanks to the selection of Engelland from the Calgary Flames. Though Canadian, Engelland makes his offseason home in Las Vegas after spending two seasons playing for the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL.

The Golden Knights’ selections were revealed in reverse order of their originating team’s regular season standings, meaning the Colorado Avalanche‘s player (Calvin Pickard) came off the board first, while the Washington Capitals‘ pick will be announced last.

“What surprised me was the quality of some of our forwards that we were able to get out of this situation,” owner Bill Foley said prior to the announcement of the team’s expansion picks. “The people of Las Vegas are going to be happy with what we did. They’re going to be pleasantly surprised.”

The results of the expansion draft are being announced throughout the NHL Awards telecast.

The Golden Knights had to choose one player from each NHL team with a composition of 14 forwards, nine defensemen, three goaltenders and four additional players from any position. Vegas had a pool of 673 players made available by the league’s other 30 teams from which to choose.

Vegas coach Gerard Gallant already entered the evening with Reid Duke, a 21-year-old forward, on roster, who became the Golden Knights’ first ever player after agreeing to a three-year entry-level contract with the team in March.

The Golden Knights’ first home game will be Tuesday, Oct. 10 against the Arizona Coyotes.

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