Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Golden Knights want Will Carrier? Plus Las Vegas picks from all 30 teams

Published by hockeybuzz.com, 6-19-2017

William Carrier was selected 57th overall in 2013 by the St. Louis Blues. In February, 2014 then GM Tim Murray received Carrier as a part of the Ryan Miller to Blues blockbuster trade and since then the 22 yr. old LaSalle, Quebec native has been slowly making his way to the NHL.

After finishing his junior career in 2014 with the Drummondville Voltigeurs of the QMJHL, Carrier spent two seasons in Rochester registering 20 goals and 31 assists in 119 games for the Amerks. He began last season with the AHL club (3+1 in seven games) before being called up to Buffalo in November. In 41 games for the Sabres he had five goals and three assists as he was used up an down the lineup by former head coach Dan Bylsma.

Carrier has tremendous speed for a 6'2" 212 lb. player and he loves to go full-bore into the corner. Unfortunately to this point in his very young career he's been unable to hit the scoresheet with any kind of regularity at the NHL-level but regardless of his stats with the big club last season, he still has upside. He also has that speed and tenacity which is one thing he'll always have going for him, especially with the way the NHL game is played today.

Which is why he'd be a good choice for selection by the Las Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft--Carrier is young, has Western Conference size, can skate, plays a north/south game and has upside.

Buffalo's protected list did not include Carrier or goalie, Linus Ullmark. Instead the Sabres chose to protect forward Tyler Ennis (amongst other forwards like Johan Larsson and Zemgus Girgensons) and starting goalie Robin Lehner. Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News framed the decision like this, "As the theory goes, [Knights GM George] McPhee made it clear he wants to pluck Ullmark, the 23-year-old slated to be Lehner's backup next season. [Sabres GM Jason] Botterill, knowing the organization is thin in goal, told McPhee he didn't want to lose Ullmark. McPhee, as he is doing with every team, simply said it will cost Botterill something.

"That something is likely Carrier."

Which is very sound reasoning.

Buffalo could've chosen to expose Ennis and his $4.6 million cap-hit over the next two seasons and/or Lehner, who's a restricted free agent. The duo would have been added to three bloated contracts in Zach Bogosian ($5.14M/three years remaining,) Matt Moulson ($5M/two years) and Josh Gorges ($3.9M/one year) and an exposed list of marginal players that included Nicolas Deslauriers, Brian Gionta, Derek Grant, Justin Kea, Cal O'Reilly, Cole Schneider, Brady Austin, Matt Bodie, Cody Franson, Dmitry Kulikov and Anders Nilsson.

In that scenario the Golden Knights may have selected Lehner, which would have put the Sabres in a bind, but he still would be the (probable) second choice amongst starting goalies behind Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury, the likely starter in Vegas next season. Washington's Philipp Grubauer, who many feel is a lock to be plucked by the Golden Knights as well, would also likely make for a better understudy to MAF than Lehner, so Lehner to Vegas would only seem to work in a draft and trade scenario. Without Lehner in the mix, Buffalo would be offering Vegas a choice between vets with a bloated contracts, younger players with limited (or no) upside, or free agents who may be available July 1 anyway. Unless both McPhee and Botterill had a strong interest in Ennis.

If Carrier is the preferred choice of McPhee, having Botterill expose the young forward put the teams on a two-way street giving the Vegas GM something to work with as well. And if the Sabres hope to further bolster their blueline via the expansion draft, there's still a possibility for them to do so, which may also be a possible reason for them to leave Carrier available to Vegas. McPhee will be able to trade drafted players to other teams and it looks as if there might be some decent defensemen for Buffalo to take a run at.

The Golden Knights will be selecting one player from every team and they must take a minimum of 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies from the lists of unprotected players. Since defensemen are of the utmost importance they may choose to select two or there extra d-man for trade purposes. Here's my list of two players from each team that Las Vegas may strongly be considering, plus a goalie where applicable with and the bolded name of who the Golden Knights might choose. Of note, some teams are rumored to have deals in place, so I'll try to work around that.

--Anaheim (rumored deal to keep D, Josh Manson and D, Sami Vatanen:  F, Emerson Etem, RW, Nick Sorensen
--Arizona:  C, Alexander Burmistrov;  F, Teemu Pulkkinen
--Boston:  D, Adam McQuaid;  D, Linus Arnesson
--Buffalo (rumored Vegas will take):  LW, Will Carrier
--Calgary:  RW, Kris Versteeg;  D, Matt Barkowski
--Carolina:  RW, Lee Stempniak;  D, Klaus Dahlbeck
--Chicago (rumored deal with Las Vegas):  C, Marcus Kruger;  D, Trevor van Riemsdyk
--Colorado:  F, Mikhail Grigorenko;  D, Mark Barberio;  G, Calvin Pickard
--Columbus (rumored deal to protect core):  F, William Karlsson;  F, Matt Calvert; 
--Dallas:  C, Cody Eakin;  D, Dan Hamhuis
--Detroit:  C, Riley Sheahan;  D, Xavier Ouellet;  G, Petr Mrazek
--Edmonton:  D, Kris Russell;  D, Griffin Reinhart
--Florida:  C, Jonathan Marchessault;  D, Jason Demers
--Los Angeles:  D, Matt Greene;  D, Brayden McNabb
--Minnesota:  C, Eric Staal;  D, Matt Dumba
--Montreal:  C, Tomas Plekanec;  D, Alexei Emelin
--Nashville:  LW, Pontus Aberg;  LW, James Neal
--New Jersey:  RW, Beau Bennett;  D, Ben Lovejoy
--NY Islanders:  C, Ryan Strome;  D, Calvin de Haan
--NY Rangers:  RW, Michael Grabner;  C, Oscar Lindberg
--Ottawa:  RW, Bobby Ryan;  D, Mark Methot
--Philadelphia:  LW, Michal Raffl;  RW, Matt Read
--Pittsburgh:  F, Carl Hagelin;  D, Ian Cole;  G, Marc-Andre Fleury
--San Jose':  C, Joe Thornton;  LW, Mikkel Boedker
--St. Louis:  LW, David Perron;  RW, Dmitrij Jaskin
--Tampa Bay:  D, Jake Dotchin;  D, Slater Koekkoek
--Toronto:  LW, Kerby Rychel;  LW, Brendan Leipsic
--Vancouver:  C, Brendan Gaunce;  D, Luca Sbisa
--Washington:  RW, TJ Oshie;  D, Karl Alzner;  G, Phillip Grubauer
--Winnipeg:  F, Marco Dano;  D, Toby Enstrom

Las Vegas has an exclusive window now through 10 a.m. on Wednesday, June 20 to sign free agents and make trades with other teams. That night their roster will be revealed at the NHL Awards ceremony.

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