Comparing the Expansion: Vegas vs. Seattle Round 1: General Manager

The Seattle 32nds are just three off-seasons away from being a real team and we all know that they’ll constantly be compared to the Vegas Golden Knights because…well, why not?? They’re both coming into the NHL within five years of each other, they both are going to fill out the Western Conference, and we’re a culture of comparisons and results– therefore, it’s time to get the wheels going on the comparisons for nothing more but summer content.

On Thursday, the Seattles made their first plunge into the world with Ron Francis being named the team’s first general manager. Francis comes from the Carolina Hurricanes, where he was GM from 2014 until 2018 when he was let go after new owner Thomas Dundon came in. While he had a year off, Francis will have a fresh slate to start off with being at the helm.

VGK COMPARABLE: The Golden Knights were introduced in June of 2016, with their hiring George McPhee in July of 2016. With only two off-seasons to prepare, the Seattles definitely are giving Francis more time to settle. McPhee was still within the game after being dismissed as the Capitals GM in 2014, though– like Francis– had a year off before moving on in his personnel career.

Back to Francis, his tenure in Carolina was short and not so sweet. With only four seasons, Francis didn’t see the playoffs at all and never cracking the 90-point plateau. While the young core was building, he didn’t get to see it through with his dismissal before this miraculous run this year in the playoffs. While he does have that “good hockey guy” label, it’s not necessarily a good thing if he cannot get results from this new team that he’s specifically putting together.

VGK COMPARABLE: McPhee stepped into Vegas with 14 years of GM experience with the Capitals, including eight 40-plus win seasons, seven Division titles, one Presidents Trophy, and one Stanley Cup appearance. He was through the ups and downs and ups again with the Cup final, blending into the desperate times of acquiring an unmotivated Jaromir Jagr which led to the Caps Fire Sale and then the building up the team around Alex Ovechkin. Being through all of those events definitely helped McPhee be able to adjust and got some fate from VGK owner Bill Foley to give him the reins of the team.

The next big step is to start looking for a coach. With the team not starting for another three seasons will be a hard sell for Francis, which is not something Vegas had to deal with as they only were one season out from their start. The biggest question is will Francis go with someone who’s established and already been through the cycle of the NHL or will he actually start with someone fresh and clean and ready for an opportunity like this.

VGK COMPARABLE: McPhee was able to get Gerard Gallant in April of 2017 in the off-season before their start. Thanks to the Florida Panthers silliness, McPhee really lucked out on him and it’s been the best choice so far, as the Stanley Cup appearance and two consecutive playoff appearances have showed. While it is a bit of a luck of the draw for coaches, you can say that Vegas put their money on the right number on the coaching roulette table.


So there we go– the first round of the comparisons everyone is going to make. When you look at it long-term, Vegas has the advantage in spades. They got a GM who was established, knew the league, knew what to do in different situations, and knew who to put in charge. No disrespect to Francis, but his short track record is suspect; though you can say it may rank up with an “Incomplete” grade considering he was there for a shorter time than some.

My Knights?? MY KNIGHTS!?

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It’s what you’ve all been waiting for….and by all, I mean none. It’s my draft list.

A couple of notes– yes, all the trades for Draft picks will mess a lot of this up, as well as side deals. However, the side deal I know will happen (I hope) is that the Capitals make a deal to have George McPhee pick Brooks Orpik to get that contract off the Caps books, but in return, the Caps have to part with a young rostered defenseman, a prospect, and a pick. Steep price, but since they can’t trade the Orpik contract, they need room for elsewhere.

I’m sure this is 100% wrong, I don’t care. Let’s just have fun with it and move along to simming how they’ll do via NHL18.

The Only Time That Splitting in Vegas Doesn’t Make Sense

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It seems that the worst idea has become truth, as the selections of the Expansion Draft will be made between the presentations of the NHL Awards. Five picks will be made every two awards according to some sources.

You’d think the NHL would give the Vegas Golden Knights some more respect.

For a team that is in a city that’s all about being bigger than life, having the 31st team in the NHL share time with the NHL’s best seems like the team is getting shafted right from the get-go. Other teams had some sort of an event by themselves, so you’d think that Vegas of all teams and places would be given the same respect. I mean, we won’t have those big boards with the placards of names of the players selected due to it all going digital; yet you would have hope the new players would be put on another pedestal rather than share the spotlight the rest of the league’s greats.

Yet, it does give people a reason to pay attention to the Awards, which have really been just cannon fodder for Twitter to make jokes about the winners, losers, visuals, and musical acts– and rightfully so. Sure, the Draft takes away the lack of caring when it comes to the Awards and when it comes to people not watching them.

Some of the winners may think they’re overshadowed, some of the new Golden Knights may feel the same way– but the NHL feels like they could save a few bucks by combining the thing, so why the heck not, right??

For the NHL, who has a problem with garnering attention, you’d think they’d be the ones to go ahead and make as many events and bring as much pomp and circumstance to this new arrival in the league as is humanly possible. Hell, I joke about Face Off Hockey Show having a 76-Hour Coverage of the Expansion Draft because it’s almost what the NHL needs to do for people to get very hyped about this team coming into the league.

While pairing it to the Awards is good for both things and not have to spend more when you don’t have to, my feeling is that it takes away from both events just enough to make them want to go ahead and separate the two. Luckily, with GM George McPhee’s speedy abilities to make picks, it will probably take little time out of the pauses between awards.