LAS VEGAS -- The Vegas Golden Knights revealed the names of the first nine players who will likely be part of their inaugural squad at Wednesday night's 2017 awards show and expansion draft at the T-Mobile Center.
Colorado goaltender Calvin Pickard who had a 2.98 goals-against average in 50 games last season, was the first player announced for the Golden Knights. He was followed by 27-year-old Vancouver Canucks defenseman Luca Sbisa, Arizona forward Teemu Pulkkinen and New Jersey Devils defenseman Jon Merrill.
William Carrier, a 22-year-old left winger, was then chosen from the Buffalo Sabres who also traded the Golden Knights a sixth-round pick for the 2017 draft to keep the expansion club away from another unprotected player.
Forward Tomas Nosek was selected from the Detroit Red Wings followed by two more forwards, Cody Eakin of the Dallas Stars and Jonathan Marchessault of the Florida Panthers.
The Golden Knights also picked up forward Reilly Smith and his $5 million cap hit per season over the next five years for a fourth-round pick in the 2018 draft. Taking on Smith's contract was likely an incentive for the Panthers to leave Marchessault, who scored 30 goals last season, unprotected.
Rounding out the first nine picks was defenseman Brayden McNabb, who was voted the top newcomer for the Los Angeles Kings after scoring 51 points this past season.
The Golden Knights are required to take at least one player from each team and a minimum of 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders in the expansion draft. At least 20 of those players must be under contract for the 2017-18 season with average annual salaries that add up to at least $43.8 million, or 60 percent of the salary cap for the upcoming season.
The other 30 teams protected either seven forwards, three defensemen and a goaltender, or eight skaters and a goalie. Seven teams opted for the latter approach; one of them, the New York Islanders, were the only team to protect five defensemen.
Numerous trades between teams are expected to be announced starting Thursday after a trade/waiver freeze expires at 8 a.m. ET.