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Golden Knights continue tinkering with expansion roster

Updated June 22, 2017 - 7:31 pm

CHICAGO — There was no way George McPhee was standing pat in the wake of the numerous deals the Golden Knights’ general manager made in the run-up to Wednesday’s NHL Expansion Draft.

McPhee landed in Chicago late Wednesday night and when the NHL lifted its moratorium on trades at 5 a.m. (PST) Thursday, McPhee unloaded two defensemen for draft picks.

It began with Trevor van Riemsdyk, who was selected from the Chicago Blackhawks, then traded with a seventh-round pick in 2018, to the Carolina Hurricanes for a 2017 second-round draft pick. David Schlemko, who was selected from San Jose, was sent to the Montreal Canadiens in exchange for a fifth-round pick in 2019.

The Knights have a glut of defensemen — 12 — so it figured they would begin to pare down the number. It also figured McPhee would do business with Carolina general manager Ron Francis as the Hurricanes had three No. 2’s in this year’s draft and Francis was unlikely to retain all three.

The moves also freed up approximately $3 million for the team’s salary cap. Schlemko was due to make $2.1 million and had three years remaining on his contract while van Riemsdyk’s salary was for $825,000.

“We anticipated making the moves we made,” McPhee said Thursday. “We have, what, 12? We still have some contracts we have to move.”

Which is why McPhee said he hasn’t spent any time reflecting on his handiwork. There’s still too much to do.

“We’re talking to a lot of teams,” he said. “We’ve got the Entry Draft this weekend and free agency starting July 1. There’s a lot still going on.”

There’s the expected combined $10.25 million salary dump of David Clarkson and Mikhail Grabovski, which would not count against the team’s salary cap as both injured players are expected to retire.

And while McPhee wants to shed some excess on his blue line, he plans to hang on to his younger defensemen. When asked about a possible trade involving Nate Schmidt, the 25-year-old former Washington Capital, McPhee said, “We’re not moving him.”

McPhee said the general manager meeting he attended Thursday was fairly routine and any lengthy discussion centered on possible adjustments to the coaches’ challenge. But McPhee said his fellow GMs are more interested in business and he expects there likely will be more moves.

“I anticipate we’ll continue to have conversations throughout the weekend,” he said.

Contact Steve Carp at scarp@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2913. Follow @stevecarprj on Twitter.

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