Cam Tucker


Vegas GM McPhee holds all the cards leading to expansion draft


George McPhee and the Vegas Golden Knights are open for business.  

The expansion draft trade/waiver freeze is now in effect until Thursday morning, but that doesn’t mean the Golden Knights general manager can’t still work the phones in search of a deal (or deals) with other clubs.

Teams can still resume making trades with Vegas — and only Vegas — beginning tomorrow morning and through Wednesday, when the expansion draft takes place.

The Golden Knights took the step of releasing an update Saturday afternoon, stating that McPhee — called “the most powerful man in hockey” a few times today — is open to trade negotiations with every single NHL team to help those clubs not lose a player they left unprotected but would like to keep.

How sporting . . .

From the Golden Knights:

“The Golden Knights organization is very pleased with how the expansion draft process has gone so far, through the NHL trade freeze which took effect Saturday, June 17 at 12 noon PT. Now, General Manager George McPhee and his staff will continue to have discussions with the other 30 NHL clubs. Vegas has indicated that they will give all 30 clubs every opportunity to keep their rosters intact if they’d like. This means that before the Golden Knights claim a player off a team’s unprotected list, McPhee and his staff are willing to negotiate deals so the other clubs do not lose a player they would otherwise like to keep.”

Talk about holding all the cards.

The Golden Knights currently have seven picks in this year’s NHL Entry Draft, including No. 6 overall. But McPhee has suggested he’d like to acquire even more picks — 10 or 12 selections in each of two or three upcoming drafts would be ideal, he recently indicated to USA Today — in order to accelerate the growth of the franchise.

That would certainly help build the organization’s prospect talent pool for the future.

The Golden Knights have already been linked to a few potential deals. Possible trading partners have included the Blue Jackets and Blackhawks. It’s been reported that Nashville and Minnesota are also involved in discussions with McPhee.

The Blue Jackets may in fact pay a very steep price to keep the Golden Knights from selecting a player Columbus won’t be able to protect.

The deadline for Vegas to submit its expansion draft selections is Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET. The announcements of the Golden Knights’ selections will be made during the NHL Awards that same evening.

Report: Capitals expose Nate Schmidt in expansion draft


The Washington Capitals have reportedly decided to go with the 7-3-1 option for their protected list ahead of the Vegas expansion draft.

That is according to Washington Post hockey writer Isabelle Khurshudyan, who expected the Capitals to protect Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Andre Burakovsky, Marcus Johansson, Lars Eller, Tom Wilson, Matt Niskanen, John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov and goalie Braden Holtby.

No real surprises with that list.

All 30 NHL clubs had to submit a protected list by 5 p.m. ET on Saturday — just two hours after the trade/waiver freeze began.

That would expose defenseman Nate Schmidt to the expansion draft. A pending restricted free agent, Schmidt scored three goals and 17 points this season — both single season career bests for him. He entered the playoffs due to an injury to Karl Alzner and played 11 postseason games before Washington was eliminated.

Schmidt, 25, also thought, based on his performance in the postseason, that he would be able to take the next step toward becoming a top-four defenseman in Washington. And with two pending unrestricted free agent defensemen — Alzner and Kevin Shattenkirk — the opportunity could still be there if Vegas doesn’t take him.

“I thought the playoffs were really good for me personally,” he told CSN Mid-Atlantic after a second-round exit versus Pittsburgh.

“I thought I could have brought a little bit more, especially in the last game. [But] I think that hopefully the management or the staff believes that I can make the next jump and move up to that ever elusive top-4.”

Ryan Kesler out 12 weeks after hip surgery


Ryan Kesler is no stranger to hip surgery.

He underwent an operation in the summer of 2011 following Vancouver’s Stanley Cup Final loss. And on Saturday, the Anaheim Ducks announced the 32-year-old center had hip surgery last week — a general “cleaning” that included the removal of bone fragments.

The Ducks’ forward is expected to be out 12 weeks, when the club states he will be able to resume full activity.

Kesler appeared in 17 playoff games this spring, with one goal and eight points, often matched up against the opposition’s best centers. That includes Connor McDavid of the Oilers in the second round and Ryan Johansen of the Predators prior to his injury in the Western Conference Final.

Related: Kesler calls Game 6 loss to Nashville the ‘toughest’ of his career

‘A proven history of success’ — Hurricanes name Mike Bales new goaltender coach

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Heading into the offseason, Carolina Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis identified goaltending as a major issue that needed to be fixed.

He’s already taken steps to do so:

— The Hurricanes acquired Scott Darling from Chicago and then signed him to a four-year contract extension at a $4.15 million cap hit.

— Prior to that, they dismissed goalie coach David Marcoux.

On Saturday, as the hockey world calmed somewhat from the events leading up to the trade/waiver freeze, the Hurricanes announced they had agreed to terms with Mike Bales to become the team’s new goaltending coach.

Bales joins the Hurricanes after spending the last four seasons as goalie coach in Pittsburgh, which just won the Stanley Cup for the second year in a row with Matt Murray, who only turned 23 years old in May.

“Mike has a proven history of success as a goaltending coach with the Penguins, winning back-to-back Stanley Cups,” said Francis in a statement. “Based on our research, we are confident that he is someone our goalies and coaching staff will enjoy working with, and we’re thrilled to have him in our organization.”

Before becoming the Penguins goalie coach, Bales worked as a goalie development coach with that organization, and in a scouting role to evaluate amateur puck stoppers.

He was promoted to Penguins goalie coach in August 2013 — about 14 months after the club selected Murray in the third round.

“He’s not a guy who’s going to yell at you if you do something wrong. He’s a guy that you want to work hard for and not in fear of, which is great for us,” Murray told the Pittsburgh Tribune Review in November.

“He’s not the guy that’s going to yell at you, but he’ll tell you when he thinks you can do something differently. He’s not going to tell you exactly what to do, but he’ll ask for your opinion on it, and if you agree on it and you think it’ll work better, he helps you implement it.”

The Wild didn’t make a move prior to trade freeze deadline


With the expansion trade/waiver freeze approaching, the Wild was one of the intriguing teams to watch, given their surplus of defensemen — not to mention the fact they still don’t have a pick in the first two rounds of the NHL Entry Draft.

It had been previously reported that Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher had received “quality offers” for defensemen Mathew Dumba and Jonas Brodin. Yet, Minnesota didn’t make a move prior to the 3 p.m. ET deadline on Saturday.

You’ll recall a couple of weeks ago, it was believed Minnesota and the Boston Bruins were involved in ongoing trade talks, and Brodin’s name had been floated out there as a possible fit in Boston, which had been in the market for a top-four puck-moving defenseman.

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Leading into Saturday, the Wild had received interest in several players the past few weeks, especially Dumba, Brodin and, interestingly, Scandella. The Wild was in on trade talks with Tampa Bay on Jonathan Drouin and Montreal with Alex Galchenyuk. It’s unclear how deep into talks the Wild got with Montreal, but sources say the Canadiens especially wanted Scandella in a package. It’s very likely that’s a deal that Fletcher could not make happen unless he knew for a fact he could ensure Vegas would not take the exposed Brodin or Dumba. It’s believed McPhee wouldn’t make such a commitment before the deadline.

The deadline for teams to submit their protection lists is Saturday, at 5 p.m. ET. The expansion draft signing moratorium and trade/waiver freeze ends Thursday at 8 a.m. ET.

Teams, however, can still talk trade with Vegas. That will include the Wild, per Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune.