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Vegas Expansion Draft Re-Grade

by Nicholas Mullick

The Vegas Golden Knights' remarkable achievement in winning the 2022/23 Stanley Cup is certainly impressive, especially considering their quick rise as an expansion team. The organization's approach to the Expansion Draft was a fascinating aspect of their success. So I thought I would do a retrospective regrading every choice that was made in the Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft.

As a reminder, if I assign a “Milbury Grade”, it means it is an F Grade. This is an homage to Mike Milbury, who is regarded as one of the worst GMs in NHL history.

1. Colorado Avalanche - G Calvin Pickard Grade: D+

Pickard never played a game for Vegas. He was traded to Toronto for Tobias Lindberg and a 2018 sixth-round pick.Both Pickard and Lindberg can be described as "journeymen," having played for multiple teams throughout their careers. In the case of Lindberg, he was later included in the trade that brought Ryan Reaves to Vegas.

Regarding the sixth-round pick acquired in the trade, it turned into Peter Diliberatore. Diliberatore has primarily played in the AHL and ECHL, and he has not made a significant impact in the NHL thus far.

Overall, considering the outcome and the players involved, it does seem like a mediocre choice for Vegas in the expansion draft, especially considering the potentially better options that were available at the time.

2. Vancouver Canucks - D Luca Sbisa, Grade: C+

The selection of Luca Sbisa in the expansion draft can be seen as the Golden Knights taking a chance on a player who had not performed exceptionally well during his time in Vancouver. Sbisa played a limited number of games for Vegas, appearing in 44 games overall (30 in the regular season and 14 in the playoffs). During his one year with the Golden Knights, Sbisa proved to be a solid player, but it was not enough for the team to re-sign him.

After leaving Vegas, Sbisa became a journeyman, playing for the New York Islanders, Winnipeg Jets, and Nashville Predators. He has since retired from the NHL and is currently working as a development coach for the San Jose Sharks.

Overall, while Sbisa had a limited impact on the Golden Knights, his selection can be seen as a reasonable choice considering the circumstances.

3. Arizona Coyotes - LW Teemu Pulkkinen, Grade: D

Arizona's choice of Pulkkinen in the expansion draft might have seemed interesting initially. However, he did not end up playing for the Golden Knights and instead had a solid stint with their AHL affiliate, the Chicago Wolves. Since then, Pulkkinen has primarily played in the KHL. While he did lead the AHL team in scoring, it's difficult to give this pick a high grade. Considering the lack of impact he had for the Golden Knights and the subsequent path of his career, a grade of D seems appropriate.

4. New Jersey Devils - D Jon Merrill, Grade: C+

Merrill's time with the Golden Knights can be described as average. He spent a few seasons with the team and played a significant number of minutes, but his performance was not consistently outstanding. He served as a reliable depth player during his tenure in Vegas.

After leaving the Golden Knights, Merrill became a journeyman, playing for the Detroit Red Wings, Montreal Canadiens, and Minnesota Wild. While he has performed better in Minnesota, his overall performance cannot be described as fantastic.

Regarding the pick itself, selecting Merrill in the expansion draft can be considered a solid choice with mostly positive outcomes. He provided depth and contributed to the team during his time in Vegas, even though his impact may not have been remarkable.

5. Buffalo Sabers - LW William Carrier, Grade A

Carrier was the best option for Vegas to choose, as the Sabres did not have many great options available. It is surprising that the Sabres did not protect Carrier and were willing to give a 6th round pick for the Golden Knights to select him over Linus Ullmark. It is important to note that at the time, Ullmark was inconsistent. However, in retrospect, it was a mistake for the Sabres to prioritize Ullmark over Carrier. Carrier has become a vital player for Vegas, specifically as one of their key fourth liners.

Carrier's signing of a team-friendly contract worth 5.6 million dollars over four years was certainly a positive move for the team. His cap hit of 1.4 million dollars provided the team with salary flexibility while maintaining his services. As Carrier enters the final year of his contract, his performance may warrant a raise, whether with Vegas or another team in the future. However, in the present context, selecting Carrier can be considered a high-grade pick.

Regarding the 6th round pick, the selection of William Carrier ultimately led to Jiri Patera. While Patera primarily played in the AHL, he did have the opportunity to appear in two games for the Golden Knights when injuries affected the goaltender position last season. At 24 years old, Patera still holds promise for the future, and his development could contribute further to the team's success.

6. Dallas Stars - C Cody Eakin, Grade: C

At the time of the expansion draft, the selection of Cody Eakin might have raised some eyebrows due to his underwhelming performance and less-than-ideal contract situation. However, considering the low expectations surrounding the pick, Eakin's contributions to the Golden Knights were decent.

Eakin played for the team for two and a half seasons before being traded to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for a 4th round pick. While he also had a stint with the Buffalo Sabres, his overall performance was considered average or mediocre.

Following his time in the NHL, Eakin went on to play for the SCL Tigers in the Swiss National League. Although this pick may not have been the most impactful or memorable, it can be seen as an acceptable choice given the circumstances.

Overall, while the selection of Cody Eakin was not exceptional, it was also not a disastrous pick. It falls somewhere in the middle, being deemed as an average or "alright" selection in the context of the expansion draft.

7. Detroit Red Wings - LW Tomas Nosek, Grade: B+

At the time many including myself were stunned that the Golden Knights passed on Petr Mrazek. It did not make sense that the Red Wings decided to protect a declining Jimmy Howard over him. Most thought that Nosek was going to be depth for the minor league, but he proved everybody wrong. Nosek actually became a piece of the Golden Knights for the first 4 years and was a solid penalty killer. Nosek is currently on the Bruins, but this pick really was a solid one for Vegas to make.

At the time of the expansion draft, the decision by the Red Wings to protect Jimmy Howard over Petr Mrazek and subsequently leaving Mrazek available for selection by the Golden Knights surprised many. It seemed like an unusual choice given Mrazek's potential and Howard's declining performance.

However, instead of selecting Mrazek, the Golden Knights opted for Tomas Nosek. Initially perceived as a depth player for the minor league, Nosek proved to be much more than that. He became an integral part of the Golden Knights for the first four years, showcasing his skills as a solid penalty killer. While Nosek has since moved on to the Boston Bruins, his contributions to the Golden Knights during his time with the team cannot be overlooked.

In hindsight, it is evident that the selection of Tomas Nosek turned out to be a solid pick for the Golden Knights. Despite initial skepticism, Nosek proved his worth and became a valuable asset to the team. This selection stands as a testament to the unpredictable nature of the expansion draft and the potential for players to exceed expectations.

8. Florida Panthers - C Jonathan Marchessault, Grade: A++

Jonathan Marchessault stands out as the best draft choice in the expansion draft for the Vegas Golden Knights, and it's not even close. He has become the face of the franchise and holds multiple team records for goals, assists, points, and shots.

What's even more remarkable is that the Florida Panthers not only allowed Vegas to select Marchessault but also traded winger Reilly Smith to the Golden Knights for a fourth-round pick in 2018. While Vegas would have chosen Marchessault regardless, acquiring Smith was significant as he played a pivotal role in the team's early years. Smith's contributions were instrumental in the Golden Knights' journey to winning the Stanley Cup.

Although Smith has since been traded for a third-round pick in the 2024 NHL draft, the success achieved with this selection is undeniable. Marchessault's impact and the additional value brought by Smith solidify this pick as the standout choice in the expansion draft.

9. Los Angeles Kings - D Brayden McNabb, Grade: A+

The Golden Knights' selection of Brayden McNabb from the Los Angeles Kings in the expansion draft proved to be a solid choice. At the time, the Kings had several unfavorable contracts, leaving McNabb as the most viable option for Vegas unless the Kings were willing to make a trade involving high draft picks to unload those contracts, which they chose not to do.

McNabb has been a valuable asset for the Golden Knights since the team's inception. Known for his physicality as a defenseman, he has provided a strong defensive presence and has been a key contributor to the team's success. He has been with the franchise from the beginning and played a crucial role in their journey to winning the Stanley Cup.

Overall, the selection of McNabb has proven to be a great pick for the Golden Knights. His physical play, defensive capabilities, and long-term commitment to the team make him an important piece of the franchise.

10. Carolina Hurricanes - LW Connor Brinkley, Grade: D

At the time Carolina did not have much to choose from at all. You could have legit spun a wheel with what was available and where it landed would have been a fine selection for Vegas here. Brinkley never played a game with Vegas, but in picking him, the Golden Knights got a free 5th round pick. The Golden Knights utilized this pick to select left winger Jack Dugan. However, Dugan's development did not progress as expected, and he primarily played for the team's minor league affiliate. In his journey, Dugan has also spent time with multiple AHL squads. At least they got a draft pick which saves this from being a Milbury Grade

11. Winnipeg Jets - RW Chris Thorburn, Grade: B+

While Marko Dano and Tobias Enstrom were available options, the Golden Knights saw a better opportunity by swapping their 1st round pick, moving from 24th overall to 13th overall. By selecting Chris Thorburn, the Golden Knights facilitated the pick swap and even acquired a 3rd round pick in the process. The 1st round pick obtained was used to select Nick Suzuki, who ultimately did not remain with the Golden Knights as he became part of the trade that brought Max Pacioretty to the team.

Although Thorburn never played a game for the Golden Knights and later announced his retirement after a stint with the St. Louis Blues, the pick swap and additional draft pick made the selection worthwhile. The acquisition of Suzuki and his subsequent inclusion in the Pacioretty trade added significant value to the Golden Knights' roster. Overall, the decision to select Thorburn and facilitate the pick swap can be seen as a beneficial move for the team.

12. Philadelphia Flyers - RW Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Grade: C+

Bellemare's selection in the expansion draft may have been considered a bit puzzling, as there were potentially better options available. While Bellemare served as a solid 3rd/4th line winger for the Golden Knights, he was not an exceptional player and can be considered more on the average side. After his time with Vegas, Bellemare became a depth player for the Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning. Overall, his contributions were decent but not outstanding.

13. Tampa Bay Lightning - D Jason Garrison, Grade: B

Jason Garrison's time with the Golden Knights was relatively short-lived, with minimal impact on the team. He played only 9 games and spent most of his tenure in the AHL. Garrison's career trajectory was on the decline, and he later played in European leagues such as the SHL and KHL.

However, the true value in selecting Garrison was in their attempt to acquire Nikita Gusev. Gusev was a highly promising prospect and had excelled in the KHL. Unfortunately, the Golden Knights were unable to secure his services and had to trade him to the New Jersey Devils for draft picks (a third-round pick in 2020 and a second-round pick in 2021).

On a positive note, the Golden Knights did receive a second-round pick in 2017 and a fourth-round pick in 2018 in the Garrison trade. The fourth-round pick turned into Paul Cotter, while the second-round pick was used to acquire Keegan Kolesar in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets. Both Cotter and Kolesar have provided valuable depth for the Golden Knights. It is disappointing that they couldn't land Gusev, but the additional draft picks and the subsequent acquisitions of Cotter and Kolesar add some positive aspects to this selection.

14. New York Islanders - G Jean-Francois Berube, Grade: B+

Not much needs to be said about the selection of Jean-Francois Berube himself, as he never played a game for the Golden Knights. However, the important aspect to consider is the trade offer that came along with selecting Berube.

In exchange for selecting Berube, the Golden Knights received Mikhail Grabovski, Jake Bischoff, a 1st round pick in 2017, and a 2nd round pick in 2019 from the New York Islanders. This trade was a way for the Islanders to shed Grabovski's unfavorable contract, as injuries had essentially ended his career.

The draft assets acquired in the trade proved to be valuable for the Golden Knights. The 2nd round pick was eventually traded to acquire Tomas Tatar, while the 1st round pick was used in the trade for Erik Brannstrom, who was later included in the Mark Stone trade. Jake Bischoff has mainly been an AHL player for the Golden Knights.

Overall, the pick haul received by the Golden Knights in exchange for selecting Berube was well worth it. The acquired assets allowed them to make further moves to strengthen their roster and add key players to their lineup.

15. Nashville Predators - LW James Neal, Grade: B+

The Neal selection in the expansion draft was somewhat of a mixed bag. While he was a recognizable name in the hockey world and could help attract attention to the Vegas market, there were concerns about his declining performance towards the end of his tenure in Nashville.

Fortunately, during his one year with the Golden Knights, Neal had a solid season and scored 25 goals for the team. However, the Golden Knights ultimately decided not to re-sign him, and Neal went on to sign a 5-year, $28.75 million contract with the Calgary Flames. Unfortunately for Calgary, Neal experienced a significant decline in his performance, and the contract became regrettable for the team.

Neal was later traded to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Milan Lucic, but his decline continued. Edmonton ultimately bought out his contract, and Neal had subsequent stints with the St. Louis Blues and the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Given the overall trajectory of Neal's career after leaving Vegas, it's evident that his decline continued, luckily it was not Vegas that had to deal with it.

16. Calgary Flames - D Deryk Engelland, Grade: B+

When the selection of Engelland was initially announced, it may have seemed perplexing from a purely on-paper perspective. However, the decision to pick Engelland had a deeper purpose—connecting with the Vegas market. Engelland had a history of playing for the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL in the 2000s, where he garnered popularity among fans. Moreover, his status as a long-time resident of Las Vegas further enhanced his connection with the local community, making him a familiar face within the city.

Although initial opinions may not have been high on this selection, it turned out to be a solid choice for the team. Engelland not only brought leadership qualities to the locker room but also became one of the prominent faces of the franchise. He had some of the best years of his career while playing for the Golden Knights.

While Engelland is now retired, he continues to contribute to the organization. He has transitioned to the club's Foundation and serves as the Special Assistant to the Owner. Considering his on-ice performance and his ongoing involvement with the team behind the scenes, this pick deserves a B+ grade. Engelland exceeded expectations with the squad and continues to make a positive impact on the Golden Knights.

17. Toronto Maple Leafs - LW Brendan Leipsic, Grade: D

At the time of selecting Leipsic, there was hope that he would be a hidden steal for the Golden Knights due to his potential shown during his time in Toronto. However, he did not live up to expectations and after just one season, he was traded to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for prospect Philip Holm. Holm mainly played in the AHL and eventually left for the KHL.

Leipsic went on to have stints with the Los Angeles Kings and Washington Capitals. However, his NHL career took a major hit when disgraceful and offensive messages from a private group chat were leaked. These messages contained sexually charged, misogynistic, and disrespectful content targeting women and teammates. As a result, Leipsic's reputation was severely damaged, and his NHL career effectively ended. He has since been playing in the KHL.

Considering the disappointing performance on the ice and the inappropriate behavior off the ice,this selection of Leipsic can be seen as a disappointment.

18. Boston Bruins - D Colin Miller, Grade: A

Fun Fact: When the Expansion draft was over, this was one of my favorite selections in the draft. I was a big Colin Miller guy as he had tremendous upside. Vegas took a chance on Miller, and it proved to be a successful move. He became a valuable player, especially on the powerplay, contributing to the team's success

While Miller was later traded to the Buffalo Sabres for draft picks, the trade itself had its benefits for Vegas. The second-round pick acquired in the trade was ultimately used to acquire Alec Martinez, who played a significant role in the team's Stanley Cup victory. This demonstrates how the Golden Knights were able to leverage their assets and make strategic moves to strengthen their roster.

Overall, the selection of Colin Miller in the expansion draft turned out to be a great move for the Golden Knights, showcasing their ability to identify and capitalize on the potential of players.

19. Ottawa Senators - D Marc Methot, Grade: A

I'll keep it quick. Methot was acquired as a trading asset and swiftly traded to Dallas for a 2020 second-round pick and Dylan Fergerson. Although Fergerson didn't have a significant impact for Vegas, the second-round pick was used to acquire Alec Martinez, who played a crucial role in the team's Stanley Cup victory. Considering Methot's injury issues in Dallas and subsequent retirement, the trade and the resulting acquisition of Martinez make this selection a favorable one for the Golden Knights.

20. San Jose Sharks - D David Schlemko, Grade: D

Schlemko's selection by the Golden Knights in the expansion draft was primarily a move to acquire assets for trading. He was swiftly traded to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a 5th round draft pick in 2019. The pick turned into Marcus Kallionkieli, who is currently playing in the ECHL and has had a brief stint in the AHL.

While Kallionkieli's development is still ongoing, the fact that the Golden Knights still hold his draft rights provides them with the opportunity to benefit from his potential in the future. On the other hand, Schlemko's performance was declining, and he eventually found himself playing in the Canadiens' AHL affiliate.

Overall, this trade involving Schlemko resulted in acquiring a draft pick, and the long-term impact will depend on Kallionkieli's progression and potential contributions to the organization. However, it is not looking great and I have to give this grade a D.

21. St. Louis Blues - LW David Perron Grade B

While the Golden Knights only had David Perron for one season, he made a significant impact during his time in Vegas. He proved to be a valuable playmaker, contributing with 58 assists (50 in the regular season and 8 in the playoffs). Perron played an important role on the team's second line, providing much-needed offensive production.

Although it would have been ideal for the Golden Knights to retain Perron for another season, circumstances may have prevented that from happening. As a result, the overall grade for this pick might be slightly lowered from an A to a B. Nonetheless, Perron's performance and contributions during his time with the team were highly valuable.

22. New York Rangers - C Oscar Lindberg, Grade: D

If it were up to me, I would have chosen Jesper Fast instead of Lindberg in this situation. However, I understand why the Golden Knights opted for Lindberg due to his potential and occasional standout performances. Unfortunately, Lindberg did not ultimately succeed and primarily served as a bottom-six player. He was later traded to Ottawa as part of the Mark Stone deal, but his time there was also underwhelming. Subsequently, Lindberg decided to continue his career in European leagues such as the NL and KHL. In hindsight, selecting Fast, who has remained in the NHL and had a more consistent career, might have been a better choice.

23. Edmonton Oilers - D Griffin Reinhart, Grade: Milbury

At the time, the decision to select Reinhart in the expansion draft for Vegas was seen as questionable, and even looking back, it remains a perplexing choice. This is not a reflection on Reinhart himself, but rather on his lack of development as a player. The fact that he was left unprotected by Edmonton should have served as a warning sign, but Vegas took a chance, hoping that a change of scenery would benefit him. Unfortunately, it did not pan out, and Reinhart spent most of his time with Vegas in the AHL. After his contract expired, Reinhart ventured to play for teams like the KHL's Kunlun Red Star, the Iserlohn Roosters in the German League, and the Belfast Giants in the UK EIHL. Ultimately, it can be said that this selection did not work out as anticipated for Vegas.

24. Montreal Canadiens - LW Alexei Emelin, Grade: C

There isn't much to say about Emelin's selection in the expansion draft, as he was primarily a trading asset for the Golden Knights. He was swiftly traded to the Nashville Predators in exchange for a 3rd round pick in the 2019 draft. Emelin's tenure in Nashville was short-lived, and he is currently playing in the KHL.

The 3rd round pick acquired in the trade was used to select Layton Ahac, who is currently playing in the AHL for the Golden Knights' affiliate. Ahac has shown potential and has had some promising moments in the AHL.

Considering the trade outcome and the potential shown by Ahac, a C+ grade seems fair for this selection. The Golden Knights ultimately benefited from the trade with Nashville, acquiring a future asset in Ahac. If Ahac gets called up and performs well in the NHL, then the grade could be upgraded to a B.

25. Anaheim Ducks - D Clayton Stoner, Grade: A

Stoner's selection in the expansion draft may have seemed peculiar at the time, especially considering the availability of players like Sami Vatanen and Josh Manson. However, it was later revealed that additional elements were included in the deal to dissuade Vegas from selecting both Vatanen and Manson. The Ducks made the decision to offer Shea Theodore as part of the package, and it turned out to be a significant mistake for them.

Shea Theodore went on to become a crucial player for the Golden Knights, contributing greatly to their squad. On the other hand, both Vatanen and Manson are no longer with the Ducks. Unfortunately, Clayton Stoner, the player selected by Vegas, did not have a notable impact, preventing the Golden Knights from receiving an A+ grade for that particular pick. However, acquiring Shea Theodore in exchange for picking Stoner in the draft easily earns them an A grade.

26. Minnesota Wild - C Erik Haula, Grade B-

The Minnesota Wild were indeed in a challenging position during the expansion draft due to the need to protect certain players with unfavorable contracts. This resulted in Matt Dumba and Eric Staal being left available for selection. In order to ensure their retention, the Wild made a deal with the Golden Knights, offering top prospect Alex Tuch and a conditional 3rd round draft pick.

Tuch has since developed into a solid NHL player and has been a valuable asset for the Vegas Golden Knights. He eventually became a useful trade piece in the Jack Eichel trade, showcasing his value and potential.

Erik Haula, chosen by the Wild in the expansion draft, displayed promise and had the potential to contribute positively to the team. However, injuries hampered his progress and impacted his consistency on the ice. As a result, Haula has become a journeyman in the NHL, moving from team to team.

The subsequent trade of Haula by the Golden Knights to the Carolina Hurricanes, in exchange for a 5th round pick and Nicolas Roy, proved beneficial for Vegas. Nicolas Roy has developed well and has been a dependable depth player for the team, making a positive impact, including during their recent Stanley Cup run.

Overall, while Haula's injuries prevented him from meeting expectations, the subsequent trade involving him resulted in the acquisition of assets such as Nicolas Roy, who has been a valuable contributor to the Golden Knights' success.

27. Columbus Blue Jackets - C William Karlsson, Grade: A+

The selection of William Karlsson in the expansion draft has indeed proven to be an exceptional pick for the Golden Knights, earning a well-deserved A+ grade. Karlsson became a vital piece of the team, emerging as a top-line center and making a significant impact on the roster.

The trade offer made by the Columbus Blue Jackets to protect Joonas Korpisalo and Josh Anderson was one that Vegas could not pass up. In exchange for selecting Karlsson, the Blue Jackets offered a 1st-round pick in 2017, a 2nd-round pick in 2019, and the contract of David Clarkson. Although inheriting Clarkson's unfavorable contract was a downside, the value of the two draft picks attached to the deal made it too good to refuse.

The 1st-round pick obtained in the trade was later used in a trade-up to select Nick Suzuki, who ultimately became a key asset in the deal that brought Max Pacioretty to Vegas. While Pacioretty's time with the team was relatively short, he made a positive impact during his tenure.

Moreover, the Golden Knights even managed to acquire additional assets for David Clarkson in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs, obtaining a 4th-round pick and Garret Sparks.

Combining the success of the Karlsson pick with the subsequent moves and assets gained, it becomes evident that the selection was a slam dunk and a grand slam home run for the Golden Knights. The overall impact and value derived from this pick make it deserving of an easy A+ grade.

28. Chicago Blackhawks - D Trevor van Riemsdyk, Grade: B-

After selecting Trevor van Riemsdyk in the expansion draft, the Golden Knights immediately traded him to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for a pick upgrade. This trade involved Vegas receiving a second-round pick in 2017 in exchange for a seventh-round pick in 2018 and van Riemsdyk. At the time, the trade seemed fair as van Riemsdyk had potential, and Vegas was looking to acquire future draft picks.

The second-round pick acquired in the trade eventually became Jake Leschyshyn. Although Leschyshyn did play a few games for the Golden Knights, he did not make a significant impact. Leschyshyn is currently playing in the AHL with the Hartford Wolf Pack.

Considering the trade as a whole, a fair grade would be a B-. The upgrade in picks was beneficial for Vegas, but the disappointment lies in the underwhelming performance of Jake Leschyshyn, who did not live up to expectations after being selected.

29. Pittsburgh Penguins - G Marc Andre-Fleury, Grade A

It felt very weird seeing Fleury not in a Penguins uniform. The selection of Fleury by the Golden Knights proved to be beneficial for both sides. Pittsburgh was transitioning to Matt Murray as their primary goaltender, and Vegas needed a reliable netminder to anchor their team. The fact that the Golden Knights received a second-round pick just for selecting Fleury was an added bonus.

During his time in Vegas, Fleury continued to showcase his exceptional skills and even won the Vezina Trophy, which is awarded to the league's top goaltender. However, when the Golden Knights acquired Robin Lehner, it became apparent that the team was moving in a different direction. Salary cap issues also played a role in the decision to part ways with Fleury.

Ultimately, the Golden Knights traded Fleury to the Chicago Blackhawks, and the return they received was modest, with Mikael Hakkarainen being the main piece of the trade. While the trade may not have yielded a significant return for Vegas, the impact and contributions Fleury made during his time with the Golden Knights were substantial.

30. Washington Capitals - D Nate Schmidt, Grade A-

Selecting Schmidt in the expansion draft was a logical choice for the Golden Knights, given their plans to trade several defensemen. Schmidt, who had been with the Washington Capitals, showed potential and was in need of a change of scenery. The move paid off as Schmidt became a fan favorite in Vegas and proved to be a valuable defenseman for the team.

However, Schmidt's suspension for violating the NHL's performance-enhancing drug policy and the subsequent acquisitions of Alec Martinez and Alex Pietrangelo changed the dynamics of the team. Eventually, the Golden Knights traded Schmidt to the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for a 3rd round pick. Schmidt expressed his unhappiness with the lack of communication and referred to the trade as "a tough pill to swallow." He is now a member of the Winnipeg Jets.

Considering the initial success Schmidt brought to the team and the subsequent trade, I agree that this was a great trade overall. I would give it an A-, with the A reflecting the positive impact Schmidt had during his time with the Golden Knights and the minus accounting for the circumstances surrounding his departure.

So, those are my regrades for every single draft choice in the Vegas Expansion Draft. Do you agree? Let me know in the comment section on what grades you believe are great or disappointing.


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