The Vegas Golden Knights have no shortage of options between the pipes.
The NHL’s 30 teams submitted their protections lists Sunday, which the incoming Golden Knights will now pore over to make their selections. Among the players made available, Vegas must select at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen, and three goaltenders.
That totals to 26, and with Vegas needing to take 30 players, it could max out at seven goaltenders, leaving general manager George McPhee with plenty of assets to deal to rival teams seeking help in the crease:
What better way to headline the NHL in Sin City than with a three-time Stanley Cup champion tending the twine?
The Pittsburgh Penguins are moving ahead with Matt Murray, the rookie netminder who has twice won the Stanley Cup. But that’s fine with Fleury, who waived his no-movement clause to accept a move to Vegas. Had he not done so, he would have required protection, leaving Murray free for the taking.
Should Fleury become a Golden Knight, he’ll arrive in Nevada with the third-most wins among active netminders, with 375 career victories to his name.
Mrazek struggled last season, piecing together a 18-21-9 showing through 50 games, coupled with a pedestrian .901 save rate that ranked dead-last among the 26 netminders who saw as much ice time.
Still, the 25-year-old boasts plenty of potential, and could be a viable asset for the Golden Knights, whether he plays in Vegas or if he’s flipped elsewhere. Mrazek also comes with an affordable cap hit, as he’s owed just $4 million next season.
With the Capitals last season, Grubauer appeared in 23 games, picking up 13 wins in the process, key victories in helping Washington secure its second-straight Presidents’ Trophy.
Should Grubauer wind up in Vegas, there will be at least one familiar face in McPhee, the former GM in Washington who drafted him in 2010.
Through two seasons in Manhattan, Raanta has been a tough challenger to Henrik Lundqvist, going as far as to unseat the King for part of last season. Through 30 games, Raanta posted a .922 save percentage, ranking him among the top 10 netminders who saw as many contests.
Before arriving in New York, Raanta was a strong second-stringer for the Chicago Blackhawks, pushing for starts behind Corey Crawford. He also comes as a cost-effective option, as he’s signed for just $1 million through next season.
Still, the odds of the Golden Knights banking on Luongo are slim. While still an effective keeper, there is no doubt the 38-year-old is slowing down, not to mention the injuries that have come with a long career. Luongo was limited to just 40 games last season
Further complicating the issue, Luongo has five years remaining on his contract, and that’d be a tough pill for the Golden Knights.
If the Golden Knights want to think long term, Korpisalo offers loads of potential. The backup for the Columbus Blue Jackets has just 45 games under his NHL belt, but has performed admirably in limited action.
It was just the second season in the NHL for Korpisalo, after he pitched in six wins en route to a Calder Cup win with Cleveland in 2015-16. Korpisalo is signed through the next two seasons, carrying a $900,000 cap charge.
Neuvirth struggled last season, but like Grubauer, he’s a known quantity to McPhee, who drafted him with the Capitals in 2006. Since stopping pucks in Washington, Neuvirth has had stints with the Buffalo Sabres, New York Islanders, and now the Philadelphia Flyers.
With the Golden Knights, Neuvirth could be a key veteran voice, particularly if the club opts for a younger starter. It’s an added bonus that Neuvirth has plenty of experience playing in a tandem, which would likely be the case if he were selected by Vegas.
Neuvirth also comes with an affordable ticket, as he recently signed a two-year pact that pays $2.5 million in each of the next two seasons.
But what about free agents?
What if Vegas wants to write its own contract? While the above seven netminders are among the best available to Vegas, they’re not the only options. The Golden Knights could also dip into free agency, where the likes of Ryan Miller, Jonathan Bernier, Steve Mason, and Brian Elliott, among others, could sign early with the Golden Knights.
(Photos courtesy: Action Images)
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