It’s been discussed ad nauseum how loose the proposed NHL Expansion Draft rules are and how many solid players Las Vegas may be able to select. However, the back end of the Expansion Draft may be just as important as the key players at the beginning.
Obviously The Creator and his GM will have the opportunity to swipe a few solid goalies, a number of excellent defenseman, and maybe even a scorer or two. But there’s not going to be a player on all 30 NHL rosters that will fit financially on the new team.
When you read mock expansion drafts or protected player lists (and we at SinBin.vegas are guilty of this as well) they are usually focused on getting the best collection of players from the available pool. The best ones account for salaries, but almost no one projects the expansion team to select players who are retiring, not contracted, or have never even played a season in the NHL.
These were all tools used in the Expansion Drafts in 1998, 99, and 2000. The most notable pick was when the Minnesota Wild selected Stefan Nilsson from the Vancouver Canucks. Nilson had retired from the NHL two years earlier but was available to be selected in the 2000 Expansion Draft.
The reason the Wild made this pick was to use up one of their 26 (Vegas will have 30) forced picks in the draft, without using even a dime of the salary cap. By selected a retired player, the Wild would not be on the hook for a contract, and would in turn have extra money to use to sign draft picks and/or free agents.
The Las Vegas team will be forced to select 30 players in the NHL Expansion Draft. That’s 30 contracts they did not negotiate and will have to pay out. The Expansion Draft is an excellent tool to build a roster with experienced NHL players, but it’s a double edged sword in the fact that a team cannot simply say, “we’re done here” and quit after selecting 22 players. For fairness sake a player must be taken off every roster.
Rather than taking a fringe NHLer and his contract, it may be better to simply punt on the pick and try to avoid taking on extra salary. The technique is commonly called “draft and discard.”
I call it brilliant.