As we’ve known for a while now, one member of the Sabres will officially be a Vegas Golden Knight after Wednesday’s expansion draft. With the protected player lists now released, we have more clarity on who that player will likely be.
Many of the Sabres unprotected players are UFAs or spent most of their time in the AHL, leaving only a few names that are realistic options. I’ve separated these names into to groups, players we’d be happy they take and players we’d be mad if they take.
Since Vegas cares about succeeding, they’ll probably take someone in the latter group.
Guys we want them to take
Matt Moulson - The ties are obviously there with Matt Moulson and Vegas’s GM George McPhee, who is Moulson’s wife’s godfather. The Moulson’s even named their kid after McPhee, but Moulson’s lack of 5-on-5 production may overpower the relationship. With Jack Eichel and Sam Reinhart needing contract extensions soon, getting Moulson off the books would be huge for new Sabres GM Jason Botterill. Moulson is making $5 million each of the next two seasons.
Josh Gorges - Neither the eye test or analytics are kind to Josh Gorges, who has been a ball and chain to whoever he played with last season. His contract isn’t horrible, as he’s only making $3.9 million for one more season. He’s been complimented for his role in the locker room, so he could give Vegas a nice veteran presence on a team that won’t win much anyways.
Zach Bogosian - Like Moulson, the Sabres would love to get away from Bogosian’s contract. He’s making $5.1 million through 2019. He’s a former first-round pick who hasn’t always been a train wreck, so you might be able to talk yourself into him as a reclamation project if you’re Vegas. However, the Golden Knights will likely want a more cost-effective option.
Nick Deslauriers - Ha. Vegas isn’t going to take Deslauriers. If they do, I’ll give McPhee a big hug.
Guys we don’t want them to take
Linus Ullmark - Ullmark has shown promise early in his career and would make sense for a Vegas squad that won’t hit its stride for a few seasons. The Golden Knights do have other options, though. Mark-Andre Fleury, Petr Mrazek, Philipp Grubauer, Michael Neuvirth and Malcolm Subban are all possibilities. It may come down to how many goalies Vegas wants to take (or a possible deal between the two teams).
William Carrier - Based on Mike Harrington’s report yesterday, it sounds like Carrier is going to be the guy. Harrington said his inclusion was likely to keep McPhee away from Ullmark.
I like Carrier, but I don’t really understand everyone losing their minds about him being unprotected. I like the way he plays, but remember he scored five goals in 41 games last season. He’s a nice physical presence, but odds are he’ll never be more than a third liner. The future of the Sabres is not based on having Will Carrier.