All We (Plan to) Do is Win
On May 16, the Chicago Wolves and Vegas Golden Knights announced a multi-year agreement that made the Wolves the official American Hockey League partner of the National Hockey League’s newest franchise, the Golden Knights.
The partnership between the two organizations is primarily founded on the relationship formed between Wolves owner Don Levin and Golden Knights general manager George McPhee. Both men have been explicit in their love of winning and building successful teams at their respective levels.
A Brief History
Since the Wolves’ inception prior to the 1994-95 season, the franchise has won four championships — two Turner Cups (1998, 2000) and two Calder Cups (2002, 2008) —spanning time spent in the International Hockey League and AHL. Between the two leagues, the Wolves have amassed eight division titles, six conference championships, seven scoring champions and three most valuable players.
In 17 seasons as the Washington Capitals general manager, McPhee enjoyed much success that included guiding Washington to its first Stanley Cup Final in 1997 as well as seven Southeast Division titles. McPhee is also responsible for the Capitals’ selection of Alexander Ovechkin as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. At the AHL level, McPhee directed Washington’s front office for the Hershey Bears’ last three Calder Cups (2006, 2009, 2010). Hershey has served as the Capitals’ primary AHL affiliate since 2005-06.
On Wednesday, June 21, the Golden Knights will announce their selections for the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. Per league expansion, the Golden Knights will select a player from each of the 30 existing NHL teams to fill the roster for their inaugural season.
The current teams had the option either to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender or eight skaters and one goaltender. The protection lists were revealed on Sunday.
Because NHL teams can only carry 23 players on their active roster, some of the players selected in the expansion draft could be ticketed for the Wolves – or some could be traded for prospects that could be headed to Chicago.
Full draft details and rules can be found at NHL.com.
The Golden Knights own the No. 6 pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft that begins on Friday, June 23, at United Center.
When the NHL Draft Lottery took place on April 29, the Golden Knights had a 10.3 percent chance to win the coveted No. 1 overall pick — the same odds as the league’s third-worst team, the Arizona Coyotes. While Vegas didn’t beat the odds in the lottery, it holds the No. 3 pick in Rounds 2 through 7.
With almost 20 years of experience as an NHL general manager, McPhee has been both public and direct with his vision for the Golden Knights: building through drafting, developing, trading and free agency.
When will Vegas Prospects Join the Wolves?
Due to age-limit agreements, it’s unlikely that any of Vegas’ 2017 entry draft selections will find their way on the Wolves roster for 2017-18.
The NHL and Canadian Hockey League — the umbrella league for the Ontario, Quebec Major Junior and Western Hockey Leagues — have an agreement that makes players in those leagues ineligible to skate in the AHL unless they turn 20 by Dec. 31 of the upcoming season.
As for players headed to college, NHL draftees are allowed to play in the AHL as long they are 18 years old. However, it works out that most players play at least one season of college prior to turning professional, thus making them unlikely to skate in the league before they’re 19.
These decisions are made between the NHL team that owns the prospects’ rights and the prospect. Both parties are looking for the best development path that benefits the player and the team. Odds are good a lot of Vegas’ prospects will be skating in the NCAA or CHL this season.
The Wolves, meanwhile, will continue to boast a traditional roster comprised of NHL free agents on two-way contracts, NHL prospects on entry-level contracts and players who sign Wolves contracts.
With Vegas in short supply of entry-level prospects this season – for the age-related reasons listed above – the Wolves are allowed to accept such players from the other NHL teams, per arrangements between Golden Knights and those NHL teams.