Sportsnet’s Gare Joyce, noted friend of Vegas GM George McPhee, launched a new series on Canadian giant’s website today called What To Expect When You’re Expanding. The idea of the series, much like the baby books, is to gather stories from former Expansion GM’s so McPhee can see “how good he and his team have it.”
The first in the series was a set of stories from former Atlanta Flames general manager Cliff Fletcher. His story includes whining about being hired too late, not having a staff, competing with another team, competing with another league, being forced to take bad players, wanting to trade all his players, and much more. Sounds like a lot of bitching, and it is, but it’s a good read, trust me.
At the end of the story Fletcher, who went on to win a Stanley Cup in 1989 and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004, offers up a paragraph of advice for McPhee. Once you sort through the parts where he complains about the Flames situation, you end up with one strong piece of wisdom.
Still, the key things are the fact that there’s fewer players teams can protect [and that] Vegas is coming in alone. He has an opportunity to make all kinds of deals with clubs. -Cliff Fletcher, Atlanta Flames founding GM
Deals, deals, and more deals! And we’re going to win!
But seriously, Fletcher’s point is spot on. Once the NHL’s protection lists are submitted, George McPhee has rights to every single exposed player in the Expansion Draft. 50+ goalies, hundreds of defenseman, pushing 1,000 skaters, McPhee owns every last one of them… for three days.
Due to the fact that Vegas is coming in alone, all exposed players can only wind up in two places; back where they came from or in Las Vegas. That is unless deals are made, and that’s where McPhee’s power comes in.
Not only can he strike deals to benefit himself directly, McPhee will have the ability to draft and trade players, essentially setting up three way deals. These deals are where the real value lies under these Expansion Rules.
You can do your mock drafts, and we will, and project which players will eventually hit the ice in Vegas, but they’ll all be insignificant in the long term success of the franchise compared to the added assets McPhee is able to bring in via trade.
Any player a team exposed but doesn’t want to lose, McPhee can acquire draft picks for him. Any player a team wants selected, McPhee can make a deal for him. Any player that’s coveted by another team, McPhee’s the conduit to that trade. The number of possibilities is endless and the bounty on each one doesn’t need to be that high.
If Vegas comes out of the Expansion Draft with 15 extra draft picks, even if many are in the late rounds, over the next three years, they’ll have the freedom to move around on draft day like no other team in the history of the NHL.
That’s value, that’s strength, and that’s not something our founding GM will ever have to whine about.