The newly minted Las Vegas NHL expansion franchise has settled on long-time league executive George McPhee to serve as its inaugural general manager.

McPhee, who last served as a general manager with the Washington Capitals from 1997-2014, has more than two decades of experience in NHL front offices, spending last season with the New York Islanders as special adviser to general manager Garth Snow.

The Capitals reached the playoffs 10 of the 17 seasons he presided as general manager, including a trip to the Stanley Cup Final in 1998.

Now he will get to work on building an expansion franchise from the ground up in time to begin play in 2017-18.

"Our mission here is clear: We're going to build an organisation and a team that people in Nevada and Las Vegas will be proud of, and we're going to do it quickly and we're aiming at the Stanley Cup," McPhee told a press conference. "It's that simple."

McPhee did that in Washington, too, having selected Alexander Ovechkin No. 1 overall in 2004 to set in motion the next decade of contention for a franchise that had fallen on hard times.

Las Vegas is guaranteed to pick in the top three in next year's NHL Draft, with a similar chance to find a face for the yet-to-be-named franchise.

That is just one of the major decisions McPhee will be tasked with.

His first order of business is to assemble a scouting staff, which will help piece together a roster of players poached from the other 30 NHL franchises.

It has been 16 years since the NHL last expanded, with new rules in place to ensure the roster is competitive immediately, so McPhee will have his hands full navigating the nuances of the process.