The Vegas Golden Knights are the league's first expansion franchise in almost two decades, and they will begin play in 2017-18 after selecting at least one player from each of the other 30 teams in the NHL. And teams aren't prohibited from making trades that would keep certain unprotected players from being selected.
So, when you're building an organization from the ground up, what do you do? You can negotiate your way out of this if you wish..
At the end of a year of non-stop scouting and 72 hours unlike any this veteran executive has ever seen, a lot of this comes down to instincts.
The list of players protected from Wednesday's draft to stock the expansion Vegas Golden Knights is out, and conversely-and most importantly-the list of unprotected players. However, the asking price is said to be a top-two defenceman with a right-handed shot. "One of the reasons we want to finish the dialogue today and pick the team tomorrow is because it will take us awhile to pick the team".
In the process, McPhee has been encouraged by the reaction free agents and their representatives have shown when contacted by the Knights.
McPhee has made it known he won't pick preferred available players if opposing clubs offer up valuable long-term assets. "Goalie's one position where there's a lot of good goaltenders out there right now and not a whole lot of spots".
Not one all-star from last season is up for grabs, and only one player from the league's top-30 scorers is available: 32-year-old Eric Staal, who resurrected his career with 65 points for Minnesota.
None of those defensemen came from the Minnesota Wild, Ottawa Senators or Anaheim Ducks, leaving big questions with the Vegas Golden Knights poised to acquire some serious talent in their expansion draft window from Sunday through Wednesday. The fact the Penguins protected both says they expect deals to be reached. Nelson will still be in his prime when the Golden Knights start to become more competitive. We want to have a discussion with the league tomorrow night about what our team is going to look like and make sure we meet all the requirements, and if everything is OK, I'll sleep on it and send it in Wednesday morning.
"Nothing is final until everything is final", said McPhee.
But this time around, not even the National Hockey League could be arrogant enough to charge the expansion fee it did - $500 million, none of which it has to split with the players - and not give the Golden Knights a better head start. Owner Bill Foley, who paid $500 million for the franchise, has been sitting in on the meetings. They are the only team to protect five defensemen.
The Sabres gave up a third-round pick in exchange for the 2011 first-round selection who completed his third full season in Montreal. In others, any flip-flop between players carries a ripple effect across the board.
It is a unique - but not unprecedented - moment in time that is creating trading opportunities for some teams and protection issues for others.
Despite the challenge in front of him, he already sounds a little wistful about the experience.
Some deals are done; others will get done in the coming days.
"We are prepared and organized", said McPhee. "Then we're going to go to that club and say: 'We have interest in this player, there's another club that has interest in this player".
To keep Vegas from choosing whomever they wanted from this list, many seem to think that the Ducks have a trade ready to announce with the Vegas Golden Knights as it pertains to not taking Sami Vatanen.