For the first time in the salary cap era, the National Hockey League will add a franchise next season as the Vegas Golden Knights join the fray. They have a name. They have a jersey. After tonight’s expansion draft, they’ll even have players. Every one of the 30 established NHL clubs will lose a player to Vegas in the draft, including the Calgary Flames.
Who will the Golden Knights snag from Calgary? To answer that question, and others, we’ve assembled our crack team in the FlamesNation Roundtable to share their thoughts: Ari Yanover! Mike Fail! Christian Tiberi! Christian Roatis! Kent Wilson! And also me!
Base-case scenario, which player do the Flames lose to Vegas?
Ari: Troy Brouwer, please. I’m not a believer that this year was just an off-year and he’ll have a bounce-back season – but if that’s what Vegas believes, then we’re all the better for it. I also wouldn’t mind if they took Michael Stone, as I don’t believe he’s the answer to the Flames’ defence.
Mike: Troy Brouwer or a situation where they want to offer Michael Stone a contract. Finding a way to avoid Stone and get rid of Brouwer is key.
Christian T: Is there any other option besides Troy Brouwer? I guess if they nab Michael Stone before the Flames can do something dumb like re-sign him, that’s another good choice.
Christian R: Without a doubt Troy Brouwer. I doubt Vegas takes a UFA like Engellend or to a lesser extent Stone, since they have a priority window to talk to UFAs prior to everyone else getting to, so Troy Brouwer is far and away the best case. Lance Bouma holds down second place.
Kent: Troy Brouwer, for many obvious reasons.
Ryan: I’m going with Troy Brouwer, though Michael Stone or Deryk Engelland going to Nevada also wouldn’t be horrible.
Worst-case scenario, which player do the Flames lose to Vegas?
Ari: Brett Kulak, easily. He can probably step into a full time NHL role now and it would be brutal to lose him right when he’s on the cusp of doing that, only to have him play for another team. Alex Chiasson would also suck to lose, as he’s good for depth, but wouldn’t be as big of a deal. Really, though, the Flames aren’t in that bad of a position no matter who Vegas takes. The expansion draft came at a good time for them.
Mike: They don’t take Troy Brouwer and we’re left with his existence providing perpetual mediocrity until the Flames can leave him in Lac La Biche or something. If Vegas is smart, they go after a player that can provide some value in the NHL or AHL. Shinkaruk, Kulak, Chiasson, or to a lesser extent Stajan.
Christian T: I will go bold and say that the worst case scenario is if the Flames lose a guy like Hunter Shinkaruk (or any other AHLer that is exposed) or any non-roster player. I think the Flames are approaching this expansion draft with the optimistic outlook that Vegas will take away dead weight and open up a spot for a prospect or a free agent. If Vegas grabs someone who does not free up an NHL spot, the Flames kind of lose a little bit.
Christian R: Brett Kulak, for me. An NHL-ready bottom pairing kid with the potential for the second pairing is exactly the type of depth the Flames need as they enter their contention window. He seems like the obvious pick from the Flames to us, but as often happens in the NHL, teams think much, much differently than we do. In this case, that’s good!
Kent: Brett Kulak I guess? He’s the closest of the kids to making some sort of impact at the NHL level.
Ryan: Brett Kulak or Alex Chiasson going would be a shame, since Kulak hasn’t really gotten a chance yet and Chiasson has been really useful.
Which player do you expect the Flames to lose to Vegas?
Ari: If they’re loading up to reach the cap floor via other players, then I think it’ll be Kulak or Chiasson. If they need help getting there, then Bouma, Stajan, or Brouwer.
Mike: Probably Chiasson or Kulak. There’s enough of a case to be made they can be serviceable, which is what the Vegas team needs. Stajan could be pursued – and there were talks that he would be ideal as a captain or what have you – but at the end of the day they’re set up in a position of leverage to design an okay team. They don’t need to take on any contracts unless the pot is sweetened, and Calgary doesn’t have much to sweeten a salary dump.
Christian T: It’s kind of hard to say right now given all of the variables in this draft, but I feel they go with Alex Chiasson because he’s young-ish, still cheap, big, and useful. I’m torn between him and Brett Kulak for this answer, but I think Chiasson’s NHL experience gives him the edge.
Christian R: The Flames reportedly expect to lose a forward [editor’s note: David Pagnotta of the Fourth Period tweeted this], and so I think it’s one of Chiasson, Brouwer, Shinkaruk, Bouma or Stajan, in that order from most to least likely. Chiasson is a good, still young utility forward who can play up and down your lineup with varying success. He’s cheap, too. Brouwer seems to have some sort of perceived value in the room plus “can score” (heavy emphasis on the quotations) so there’s hope there. Shinkaruk is that quality AHL scorer on the fringes of the NHL if Vegas wants to build their forward depth. Bouma is a perceived good penalty killer for whatever reason so maybe they value that. Given Bouma’s penchant for partying, his selection by the Knights would be hilarious. Stajan is another “good in the room” veteran and reasonable bottom six forward. Given his contract, I don’t see the value in Vegas taking him, though.
Kent: I think it might be Brouwer given McPhee’s affinity for the player, but it’s more likely to be Kulak, Stajan or Chiasson. Lets go with Chiasson for now.
Ryan: At this point, it’s probably Matt Stajan or Alex Chiasson given the number of young defenders available.