When Murray suffered an injury during warmups of the first game of the playoffs, Fleury stepped in and would eventually lead his team to the Eastern Conference Final.
Veteran forward James Neal and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury headlined the expansion draft selections of the Vegas Golden Knights on Wednesday night at the NHL Awards. No NHL expansion team has had that many in its first draft.
"I love hockey", he said. "Why wait six years?"
Of course, anyone familiar with the concept of an expansion draft understands that the second of those objectives is more important - and more realistic - than the first.
Nashville general manager David Poile is among many hockey observers who think the Golden Knights have the ingredients for the most competitive expansion team in league history.
First-round picks nearly always see action in the NHL - just 13 percent have not skated at least one game in the league - and, on average, are 50-point scorers if the pick is a forward.
Vegas picked up three goalies, 14 forwards and 13 defensemen in the choices announced during the NHL's annual awards show. The team also selected Owen Sound centre Nick Suzuki and Swedish defenceman Erik Brannstrom with the 13th and 15th picks, respectively.
Vegas general manager George McPhee admitted before the expansion draft results went public that his team would be looking to benefit from an excess of blue-liners. To see the trophies up close and personal, touch them, get a picture with them, it makes it all a little bit more real. Got a lot of good players, a lot of good picks.
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They weren't there to see the Cirque du Soleil or a magician or a performer like Britney Spears. Theyve got some smart guys up there, and they know exactly what they are doing..
Here's the thing that maybe wasn't clear from the beginning: Not only were the Vegas Golden Knights getting to poach one player off every roster, they were also getting compensation (mostly draft picks) from the other 30 clubs in order to direct who they chose. Vegas' expansion draft choices - along with handful of players signed before the draft, most notably coveted Russian center Vadim Shipachyov out of the KHL - certainly appear to form a team that could make noise in the Pacific.
At least that was the reaction Fleury received as he received a standing ovation as he walked on stage at T-Mobile Arena in a Golden Knights jersey during Wednesday night's expansion draft reveal.
What kind of team will they be? That same Florida team was very likely the best expansion team in their first year playing in the National Hockey League. Last season he accumulated 46 points and 107 penalty minutes in 65 games.
None of them were selected by the Golden Knights, who chose defenseman Luca Sbisa from the parent Vancouver Canucks.
That transition to the desert will be easier for some Golden Knights: Deryk Engelland has lived in Las Vegas in the off-season for a decade.
As for the Golden Knights other first-round picks - assuming they keep them - a young goalie of the future could be one of the picks. "Definitely ready for that part of it". Because teams were limited in how many players they could protect heading into the draft, Vegas could negotiate deals in which they'd agree to avoid taking certain exposed players in exchange for assets.
GMs often talk about building a team down the middle and Vegas acquired two centers in the first round. The Ducks traded the promising Theodore to stop Vegas from selecting defensemen Sami Vatanen and Josh Manson - and to persuade the Golden Knights to take Clayton Stoner instead, removing his onerous contract from the five-time defending Pacific Division champions' books.
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