Well we thought it might start happening, and indeed it has. Colorado Avalanche stuff prospect Mikko Rantanen was set to play his 10th NHL game today. However, according to the Denver Post, GM Joe Sakic has sent Rantanen back to the minors in order to preserve the first year of his entry-level contract.
We’re not going to burn a year, first of all. He will start next year. (Expansion rules) can change. It’s got to be negotiated, but in his first two years, he would be treated like a junior player. From our understanding, but not 100 percent, the first two years he won’t be exposed so you don’t have to protect them. – Joe Sakic
This officially begins the trend of general managers making roster moves to prepare for the eventual expansion draft. This move is a no brainer for the Avs and they probably would have done it without expansion on the horizon, but the fact Sakic specifically mentioned the draft is significant.
Teams are going to start preparing for the draft by making moves like this, trading players they know they won’t be able to protect, and even signing players to leave them unprotected so they can hit the 25% rule.
This is the first of what we expect to be hundreds of “preparatory” moves for the expansion draft. Very exciting indeed.