Golden Knights join the NHL

There is no turning back now. As of Mar. 1, Vegas Golden Knights owner Bill Foley has made the final payment on a 500-million-dollar entree fee. General Manager George McPhee and his staff are now free to begin building the 31st team of the National Hockey League.

The expansion draft isn’t until June 18-20; and nothing will be revealed until June 21. At this time, the Golden Knights will have to pick at least one player from all other 30 NHL teams. But until then, as they fill a roster of at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen, and three goalies, McPhee and company will have access to prospects and amateur picks. Deals between other League teams are restricted by when the team is officially done for the season; players must also be no longer able to play in the American Hockey League according to the NHL website.

It only took five days for the Golden Knights to make their first move, signing free-agent junior Reid Duke on Mar. 6 for three years. Duke comes from the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League and is their top scorer with 35 goals and 32 assists at the time of the signing.

If the Golden Knights only get one player for sure from each team, a decision-making task that seems impossible for McPhee and his staff to come to agreements on, the NHL Trade Deadline made it so much more difficult. Not the least of which is Kevin Shattenkirk of the St. Louis Blues moving to join Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Oshie in Washington. Shattenkirk will be playing alongside one of the best lines in the League, in front of one of the best goalies in the League, Braden Holtby who is part of the most dominating team in the League since Dec. 31.

Other trades making the selection process more difficult for the Golden Knights are Ryan White and Martin Hanzel moving to the Minnesota Wild, Thomas Vanek moving to the Florida Panthers, Jarome Iginla moving to the Los Angeles Kings, Johnny Oduya finding his way back to the Chicago Blackhawks, and Brian Boyle becoming a Toronto Maple Leaf.

Teams gearing up for a run in the post-season proved heavy handed in putting together new lines fit for a Stanley Cup Championship. The Vegas Golden Knights will select one player from each, choosing among a host of future champions and Hall-of-Famers. The 2017-18 season begins with the Golden Knights on Wed. Oct. 7.