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Arizona Providing Vegas A Guide On How To Use Cap As An Asset

The acquisitions of Dave Bolland and Pavel Datsyuk by the Coyotes are being viewed by many as “using the cap as an asset.” Because Arizona was so far below the  salary cap floor, they were forced to take on a few contracts to get them to the number. Sound familiar?

In the Expansion Draft in June, Las Vegas will select 30 players, 20 of which must be under contract in 17-18. Vegas must reach 60% of the prior season’s salary cap, and they cannot buy out a contract until the conclusion of their first season.

Just like the John Chayka with the Coyotes, George McPhee has a major asset in his need to take on salary. Many around hockey circles have projected that other teams around the NHL will expose their brutal contracts and Vegas will be forced to take them on to stay within the rules.

This may but true, but if you look at what Chayka was able to do in Arizona, Las Vegas has a great opportunity to utilize these requirements to acquire something in return. Arizona picked up two young players (Lawson Crouse and Jakob Chychrun) they expect to be integral parts of their future by taking on Bolland and Datsyuk. McPhee should have a chance to chance to do the same… and maybe even better.

I’m not taking on any bad contracts unless someone wants to pay us to take on a bad contract. I’m really not interested in that, we’ll claim somebody else if we have to. -George McPhee

Johan Franzen, Ryane Clowe, Nathan Horton, and David Clarkson are all guys who may wind up in similar situations with their injuries. It may not be the perfect case like Bolland, where an insurance policy relieved Arizona of nearly $10 million of his salary, but the fact remains, an injured player’s contract could be ripe for a deal come June.

Goalies like Jimmy Howard or Semyon Varlamov, older players like Dion Phaneuf or Dustin Brown, or even some of the guys who declined after signing their big deal like Jason Pominville or Ryan Callahan could be snapped up by Vegas’s well, if the price is right.

We’ve mentioned many times on this site how the expansion rules can allow Las Vegas to put a competitive team on the ice in a hurry. But they also have presented George McPhee with a ton of assets to move around like chess pieces. Whether it’s salary cap, the guaranteed spot in the top four of the draft, or the fact that because Vegas enters alone, every exposed player is unofficially property of Las Vegas until they finalize their 30 selections on June 20th, McPhee has options.

If he plays his cards right (hopefully one day we all will stop using terms like this, but I’m not ready yet), there will be a bunch of head shakers when we learn the picks. But just like in Arizona, when you really break it down, it’ll all make sense, and in a way, seem pretty brilliant.

**Stick tap to GeneralFanager.com for helping brainstorm examples for this post**

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18 Comments

  1. James

    ‘We’ve mentioned many times on this site how the expansion rules can allow Las Vegas to put a competitive team on the ice in a hurry.’

    I think it’s imperative to put a competitive team on the ice in a hurry. Las Vegas is the quintessential non-traditional hockey market. How long will it be before the casual fans stop paying attention if losing continues? Will it lead to Mr. Foley making quick fixes to put bums on seats?

    Personally, I would methodically and slowly build through the draft. I like the idea of absorbing bad contracts in order to acquire picks and prospects. Unfortunately, I don’t think the casual fans have the patience

    • I hear your concern, and hope you are wrong about the market. Not saying you will be, just saying I hope people are in it for the long haul, cause that’s the only way they’ll truly be Cup contenders.

  2. Jonathan

    Hadn’t thought of the 30 exposed players as being LV assets. Shines a whole new light on the process. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Timothy Pietrzak

    Good Job mentioning this.. As a Hockey fan who moved to Arizona the same year they did, I have tried to explain these moves to die hard hockey fans who just thought the organization was being F@$Kin stoopid. The league and media really have to dumb it down for people to understand the salary cap and what cap space is.. I’ve tried and failed.

    As for the start of the team they need to bring in some star power. They need a face in his prime.. a name for the jersey.. the go to guy for interviews.. In Arizona we had Roenick.. not sure who’s available as a free agent (Ken, you can look that up). Not talking about buying up the biggest fishes in the sea either, but 1-2 who at least have made a name for themselves.

  4. James

    @Timothy Pietrzak
    Rick Nash seems like a realistic target in the expansion draft. Nash brings name recognition, but his best years are behind him now. Former Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky might be available. I think the expansion rules can allow Las Vegas to put a somewhat competitive team on the ice in their inaugural season.

    Generally Speaking, teams opt to lock up their star players before they hit the free-agent market. It’s mainly complementary players. George McPhee will have the chance to draft some star power to form the core of the team. The face of the franchise in Toronto is Auston Matthews

  5. RJ

    Okay, only kind of related, but Arizona is definitely going to be our rival right?

    • Not for me. I much more expect to see LA and Anaheim as our rivals. Even more so, I expect Chicago, Vancouver, and any other team that takes over our building to be the teams we really hate the most.

      • RJ

        I don’t like that at all. They are already each other’s rivals, we would never be able to achieve ‘full rival’ status with either of them I fear. Like the Devils think they are the Rangers rival, but really the Rangers are rivals with the Flyers.

        • We are certainly going to fall into that category no matter who we choose to hate since we are so new. Hopefully there’s a couple playoff series in our near future that can create a good rival for us too.

  6. James

    @RJ
    The thing with rivalries, though, is that they have to happen organically.

  7. James

    @Ken Boehlke
    ‘I hear your concern, and hope you are wrong about the market. Not saying you will be, just saying I hope people are in it for the long haul, cause that’s the only way they’ll truly be Cup contenders.’

    It’s not really a knock against Las Vegas in particular. I just think it’s very hard to put bums in seats if your team is a perennial loser. Especially in the United States, where hockey is a niche sport; I love to watch hockey, but let’s call a spade a spade. NFL, NBA and MLB are more popular in the United States.

    I think the formative years could make or break hockey in Las Vegas. A perennial loser could do irreparable damage, it’s important to create a good first impression.

    • @James No doubt we can’t put a perennial loser on the ice. I’m just really hoping that because this is the only professional team in town that Las Vegas natives will flock to games no matter the success, at least early on. Then, hopefully, because hockey is so incredible to watch in person, we’ll have fans for life. Might be a pie in the sky concept, but utopia Ken thinks it might just happen.

  8. James

    @Ken Boehlke
    I think the journey is the most appealing aspect of following an expansion franchise. The inevitable bumps in the road will make it more memorable when the team eventually hoists the mug. I believe it’s more gratifying than beginning at the top of the mountain. Something Knights fans should enjoy the ride

    • No doubt. I’m loving every second of the ride…even when I get a little frustrated with trying to track down domain names and trademarks.

  9. James

    @Ken Boehlke
    Joe Thornton is an interesting proposition. Obviously Jumbo would love to finish his career at San Jose, but has a frosty relationship with Sharks general manager Doug Wilson. The Sharks/Thornton could take step back this season. I would imagine that the chance to win in nearby Anaheim or Los Angeles would be more attractive than Las Vegas, but in order to reach the salary floor Las Vegas could offer him the financial package and lifestyle he wants in his last few years as a professional player. Las Vegas would maintain long-term flexibility.

    I’m not sure if the timing is right! I get the impression that Foley is more interested in an organic growth plan than short-term fixes

    • Bingo. The other thing Vegas offers is the chance to be the professional sports face of the city (and there’s no better face than him, I mean literally, his face). That can easily be parlayed into massive endorsement deals, something companies in Vegas will be throwing at players left and right.

  10. James

    @Ken Boehlke
    And throw in the captaincy for good measure. Vegas is an attractive option if you can overlook the Stanley Cup. I think it will be a destination city once the team is competitive pitching itself as a warm-weather tax haven

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