Vegas Golden Knights do the unexpected and select Chris Thorburn from Winnipeg Jets

Winnipeg Jets forward Chris Thorburn celebrates his second period goal against the Minnesota Wild with teammate Adam Lowry. Darcy Finley / Getty Images

WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Jets didn’t lose a player that’s under contract for next season to the Vegas Golden Knights in the expansion draft.

It was suspected the Golden Knights would select Marko Dano or Toby Enstrom from Winnipeg. But the Jets pulled off a trade with the Golden Knights and they selected soon to be unrestricted free agent forward Chris Thorburn.

In order to keep both Enstrom and Dano, the Jets traded down in this year’s draft. The Jets moved down 11 slots in the draft by giving up their 13th overall pick for the Golden Knights 24th overall selection that they had previously acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Jets also give up a third rounder in 2019 as part of the trade.

Thorburn, 34, played the last 10 seasons in the Jets/Atlanta Thrashers organization. In 64 games last season he had three goals and one assist, while recording 95 penalty minutes. Thorburn earned $1.2 million last season and his contract expires next month. He’s also played for the Buffalo Sabres and the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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The Golden Knights announced their selections in reverse order of last season’s standings and with the first pick Vegas chose Winnipeg’s Calvin Pickard of the Colorado Avalanche. The 25-year-old played parts of the last three seasons with the Avalanche. He had 15 wins and 31 losses last season after taking over the starters job from Semyon Varlamov following an injury. Pickard had a 2.98 goals against average. Colorado originally selected Pickard in the second round of the 2010 NHL Draft.

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Pickard will be joined by another Winnipegger in Las Vegas after Cody Eakin was taken from the Dallas Stars. The hard working, two-way centreman had three goals and nine assists in 60 games last season. The 26-year-old Eakin played the last five seasons in Dallas after he was traded by the Washington Capitals. Overall Eakin has 65 goals and 89 assists in 379 career NHL games.

The Toronto Maple Leafs lost the services of forward Brendan Leipsic of Winnipeg. The former member of the Winnipeg Wild played mostly with the AHL’s Toronto Marlies the past three seasons. He did appear in six games for the Maple Leafs in 2016-17 where he notched a goal and two helpers. The 23-year-old was originally drafted by the Nashville Predators in the third round of the 2012 draft.

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