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**