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Vegas GM McPhee holds all the cards leading to expansion draft

Las Vegas NHL Team Owner Bill Foley Announces General Manager

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 13: George McPhee speaks after being introduced as the general manager of the Las Vegas NHL franchise during a news conference at T-Mobile Arena on July 13, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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George McPhee and the Vegas Golden Knights are open for business.

The expansion draft trade/waiver freeze is now in effect until Thursday morning, but that doesn’t mean the Golden Knights general manager can’t still work the phones in search of a deal (or deals) with other clubs.

Teams can still resume making trades with Vegas -- and only Vegas -- beginning tomorrow morning and through Wednesday, when the expansion draft takes place.

The Golden Knights took the step of releasing an update Saturday afternoon, stating that McPhee -- called “the most powerful man in hockey” a few times today -- is open to trade negotiations with every single NHL team to help those clubs not lose a player they left unprotected but would like to keep.

How sporting . . .

From the Golden Knights:

“The Golden Knights organization is very pleased with how the expansion draft process has gone so far, through the NHL trade freeze which took effect Saturday, June 17 at 12 noon PT. Now, General Manager George McPhee and his staff will continue to have discussions with the other 30 NHL clubs. Vegas has indicated that they will give all 30 clubs every opportunity to keep their rosters intact if they’d like. This means that before the Golden Knights claim a player off a team’s unprotected list, McPhee and his staff are willing to negotiate deals so the other clubs do not lose a player they would otherwise like to keep.”

Talk about holding all the cards.

The Golden Knights currently have seven picks in this year’s NHL Entry Draft, including No. 6 overall. But McPhee has suggested he’d like to acquire even more picks -- 10 or 12 selections in each of two or three upcoming drafts would be ideal, he recently indicated to USA Today -- in order to accelerate the growth of the franchise.

That would certainly help build the organization’s prospect talent pool for the future.

The Golden Knights have already been linked to a few potential deals. Possible trading partners have included the Blue Jackets and Blackhawks. It’s been reported that Nashville and Minnesota are also involved in discussions with McPhee.

The Blue Jackets may in fact pay a very steep price to keep the Golden Knights from selecting a player Columbus won’t be able to protect.

The deadline for Vegas to submit its expansion draft selections is Wednesday at 10 a.m. ET. The announcements of the Golden Knights’ selections will be made during the NHL Awards that same evening.