Five on the Fly | Vegas GM McPhee at center of NHL universe

LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 22: Vegas Golden Knights general manager George McPhee speaks during the Las Vegas NHL team name Unveiling ceremony on November 22, 2016, at The Park at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, NV. (Photo by Josh Holmberg/Icon Sportswire)
Josh Holmberg/Icon Sportswire

Each week at Five on the Fly we’ll preview developing storylines for the NHL’s upcoming week. Today we’ll dive in and look at expansion draft storylines.

George McPhee, the most popular man in hockey

It’s the NHL’s version of a kid in a candy store. Wouldn’t you love to have a live audio feed of George McPhee’s cell phone this week? Think about all the juicy conversations he is having with his fellow general managers; some desperate, some opportunistic, but all ultimately angling for mercy in the form of a better deal.

The Vegas GM is already rumored to have sweetheart deals in place with the Ducks, Blue Jackets and Islanders, but stay tuned because there are bound to be more developing storylines by the time the NHL expansion draft rolls around on Wednesday. Being an NHL GM right now is all about bending the ear of George McPhee. He’s listening, but only to the sweetest offers.

On the flip side, McPhee must be overwhelmed. Surely he can benefit from being in a position of strength, but he’ll also have to make some tough decisions. There are deals to be made, but McPhee can’t help every team like the Islanders, Ducks and Blue Jackets. At some point he will need to draw the line and pluck some low-hanging fruit, especially if that fruit can help his roster become competitive or yield better assets in trades after the dust has settled on Wednesday.


Tampa could be big winner in Sergachev for Drouin deal

It’s easy to look at the Mikhail Sergachev for Jonathan Drouin deal and declare the Canadiens the winner in the short term. They got the player who is proven at the NHL level, and Montreal sure does look good for acquiring a 22-year-old future star and locking up six of his prime years for a reasonable $5.5 million AAV. But there’s a lot to like on Tampa Bay’s end of the deal as well.

Sergachev significantly reduces the strain of the Lightning’s cap situation and allows Steve Yzerman to focus his efforts on locking up restricted free agents Tyler Johnson and Ondrej Palat. The plus side of not keeping Drouin, who would have required an expensive new deal to stay in Tampa, is that there’s more money to spend on a defenseman with experience that can fill a roster spot for the next few years while Sergachev continues to develop.

And much like Thomas Chabot in Ottawa, who’ll get to spend time with Erik Karlsson as a rookie, Sergachev will be mentored by Victor Hedman and Anton Stralman, two of the best defensemen in the business. The Lightning are in a position to be patient while grooming Sergachev, and even if dealing for him doesn’t pay off immediately on the ice, they have what could be a generational talent under team control for a long time.

Chaos in Montreal continues

The trade for Jonathan Drouin was a victory for Marc Bergevin, but there are so many puzzling questions that the Canadiens general manager has yet to answer, especially after Montreal let Nathan Beaulieu go for a third-round pick to the Sabres over the weekend.

The move enabled the Habs to protect Jordie Benn, but couldn’t they have done that anyway and just let Beaulieu go unprotected in the expansion draft? Now they lose Beaulieu and another player, for a third-round pick – the math’s not great there.

Perhaps there is a method to Bergevin’s madness? Maybe he is stockpiling draft picks so that he can pull off a bigger deal for a defenseman after the draft? Could be, but the picture in Montreal remains murky for now.

Bergevin still needs to figure out what to do with much-maligned center Alex Galchenyuk as well as free-agent-to-be Alexander Radulov, and all of these items need to get cleaned up in a way that leaves plenty of money left to spend on Carey Price’s next contract.

Bergevin gets high marks for pulling the trade for Drouin, but he has more work to do to get a passing grade this summer.

Enstrom waives no-movement clause, showing loyalty to Jets

One player that is going to be beloved by the fans in Winnipeg for the rest of his tenure there is defenseman Toby Enstrom. Enstrom waived his no-movement clause for unselfish reasons, and saved the organization from what could have been some very difficult roster decisions ahead of the expansion draft.

Reportedly Enstrom does not want to leave the Jets, but according to his agent Kalle Boden, the 32-year-old Swede chose to do the team a solid, knowing he probably won’t be selected by Vegas in the expansion draft. His decision allowed the Jets to protect three defensemen (Dustin Byfuglien, Jacob Trouba and Tyler Myers) as well as seven forwards for Wednesday’s draft.

“Like I said, Enstrom is doing this as a favor to the organization where he has played his entire career and obviously has warm feelings for,” Boden told the Winnipeg Sun. “He has always been treated with respect and wanted to help them in a tricky situation. He truly believes that the Jets have a bright future that he wants to be a part of.”

What does Enstrom’s good deed say about the Jets’ organization? He clearly gets that the team faces specific challenges as a small-market team and wants to help them have a competitive edge. Kudos to GM Kevin Cheveldayoff as well, for having a tough conversation with Enstrom and delivering a tangible expansion draft win for the Jets.

Social hero: Marital bliss for Linus Ullmark, who signed a two-year, $1.5 million contract with the Sabres last week, then got married.

Social fashion: Here’s where to buy one of those tough Zach Werenski T-shirts

Social switcheroo: Chad Johnson could be back in Calgary on July 1.

Social identity crisis: Chad Johnson (aka Ocho Cinco) is excited that Chad Johnson was traded to the Coyotes.

Social bliss: The Penguins celebrate a magical moment in slo-mo


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