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5 players who should be part of Vegas’ long-term core

One day after the Vegas Golden Knights officially selected their roster, it’s time to start looking toward the future.

The team is now in place, but reports suggest that many of the men selected on Wednesday night might not ever take the ice with the Golden Knights as more trades are expected.

Nevertheless, the Golden Knights have done well to stock their cupboard of valuable pieces – pieces that could be around for some time and prove to be the backbone of the franchise.

Here are five players who should be part of the Golden Knights’ core in the coming years:

Jonathan Marchessault

Arguably the biggest surprise when protected lists were unveiled was that the Florida Panthers left Jonathan Marchessault exposed.

It turns out the move was in conjunction with a trade with the Golden Knights that saw the expansion team take on Reilly Smith and his five-year, $25-million contract. Nevertheless, the Golden Knights were able to snag the Panthers’ top goal scorer this season.

Marchessault paced his club with 30 goals and added 21 assists in his first full season in the league. To make things even better, the 26-year-old is making just $750,000 this season.

If he can continue to develop and produce like he did this season, then there’s no question Marchessault could turn out to be the steal of the expansion draft.

Vadim Shipachyov

The second player to officially join Vegas’ NHL squad could turn out to be among their best.

Back in early May, the Golden Knights landed a big fish by inking Russian forward Vadim Shipachyov to a two-year deal. He joins the team not as a rookie but as a seasoned 30-year-old who finished third in KHL scoring last year with 26 goals and 76 points in 50 games.

He also recently represented his country at the World Championship where he posted 13 points in 10 games. He has impeccable vision and a strong release. He could serve as a great set-up man for a sniper such as James Neal and a strong presence on the power play.

Look out.

Shea Theodore

While the Golden Knights might not have nabbed Sami Vatanen or Josh Manson from the Anaheim Ducks, they were still able to grab a bright, puck-moving defenseman.

In Shea Theodore, the Golden Knights get a former first-round pick who has been on the cusp of becoming a full-timer in the NHL but has had the misfortune of being cast aside due to a deep Ducks defensive corps.

Theodore might have dropped on the Ducks’ totem pole, but he still holds much value. For one, Theodore is still just 21 years of age, meaning he still has much more maturing and developing to come. He towers at 6-foot-2, has a strong shot, and solid vision.

This season he finished with 20 points in 26 games in the AHL, while chipping in nine points in 34 games with the Ducks. He also finished second in defensemen scoring on the Ducks during the postseason, finishing with eight points in 14 games – just one point back of Cam Fowler.

With some regular playing time, Theodore could emerge as a solid first- or second-pairing D-man.

Tomas Nosek

Tomas Nosek was a bit of a surprising pick by the Golden Knights given that many believed the club would hop on the chance to pluck goaltender Petr Mrazek.

However, one thing is quite certain: George McPhee is a smart man and clearly saw something very special in Nosek.

Since coming over from the Czech Republic three years ago, the 24-year-old has spent the majority of his time fermenting in the American Hockey League, but he looks to be hitting another level.

He posted 15 goals and 41 points in 51 games during the regular season and led the Grand Rapids Griffins in playoff scoring – finishing third overall – with 10 goals and 22 points in 19 games.

He has a strong shot and is hard on the puck and was believed to be among the best prospects in Detroit’s system. If it all works out, Nosek could end up being more valuable than Mrazek.

Marc-Andre Fleury

The success of the Golden Knights next season and going forward could solely rest in the hands of Marc-Andre Fleury.

The Golden Knights made Fleury the face of the franchise on Wednesday night, bringing him out on stage with their second-last selection. The deal to nab Fleury was reportedly made back in March, according to TSN’s Pierre LeBrun, meaning he has long been in Vegas’ plans.

It’s also clear to see that by electing not to grab fellow netminders Mrazek, Philipp Grubauer, or Antti Raanta, the Golden Knights don’t expect too much of a goaltending carousel.

Fleury is back to being the No. 1 again after having his net stolen from Matt Murray, and unless his play drastically tails off, he should remain in that position for the foreseeable future.

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