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Scott Darling Not Coming To Vegas, Unless He And McPhee “Cheat” The System

The name Scott Darling is one Golden Knights fans will consistently hear between now and June as a possible option to be in net for Vegas’ inaugural season. I’m here to tell you it’s not going to happen, unless Vegas cheats.

Before we even get into why Darling won’t be under contract with the Blackhawks come June, let’s just play the game as if he were.

Take a quick peek at the Chicago Blackhawks roster as it pertains to the Expansion Draft. They have eight players with NMCs. EIGHT! Four forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie (Corey Crawford). In other words, they can either protect three forwards using the 7/3/1 method, or protect a single defenseman using the 8/1 method. Marcus Kruger, Richard Panik, Ryan Hartman, Andrew Desjardins, Dennis Rasmussen, Trevor van Riemsdyk, and Brian Campbell are just some of the names the Hawks have to choose from. Either method they choose, they are at the mercy of McPhee.

For those of you who have played fantasy sports, you understand the term positional scarcity. Those who don’t, let me explain. It means that players in a deeper pool of talent are not as valuable despite their higher skill, than those in a shallower pool. In fantasy football, that means TE Greg Olsen is more valuable than QB Ben Roethlisberger because there are way fewer quality tight ends than quarterbacks.

In the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, positional scarcity lies in skaters, not goalies. There will be upwards of 10 acceptable goalies of which McPhee and his staff will have the opportunity to either select or sign. He can only take three, likely keep two, and only start one. Meanwhile, he needs at least six playable defensemen and twelve forwards.

Scott Darling is good, but if he’s the selection off the Blackhawks, his value is limited. There’s a massive opportunity cost to skipping over the chance to get Panik, Kruger, or van Riemsdyk.

But all this is assuming Darling re-signs with the Hawks and is left exposed… which he won’t be.

Darling, who has been actively speaking about “getting his shot,” would be signing a contract on a team with a solid #1 and be guaranteeing his exposure to the Golden Knights. However, he would be doing so by signing a backup goalie contract, likely for much less than what he’d get going to a team expecting him to be the starter. So even if selected, which shouldn’t happen, he would either become the starter in Vegas or be flipped for assets making him the starter somewhere else, yet still be paid like a backup.

That is what I call, stupid, and unless his agent is a complete buffoon, he won’t sign another backup deal with Chicago.

So one way or the other, no Darling. Except, there might be one other way. A scenario that benefits Scott Darling, the Vegas Golden Knights, and majorly hurts the Chicago Blackhawks.

Say Darling does the right thing and enters the Expansion Draft as a UFA. If McPhee signs him during the three day window, he’s the representative from the Hawks. Bad idea, we already went over this. So, McPhee must wait. But, the Vegas GM has something not many teams have, money AND opportunity. McPhee must select three goalies in the draft, but should have plenty of suitors to spin them off to, and could be looking at a heap of young goaltenders to stash away and groom.

Darling wants to start, and more importantly, wants to be paid like it. McPhee wants someone else from the Hawks, but would also love the chance to utilize his three goalie slots to bring in a bunch of added assets (draft picks). So what if they conspire and “cheat” the system.

If you haven’t read my stuff on under the table deals, read, then come back and finish this article.

McPhee and Darling come to an agreement, but don’t sign the deal until free agency officially opens on July 1st. Vegas gets its goalie, still gets to take someone off the talent rich Chicago exposed list, and Darling gets his cash and his starter spot. Win, win, win, win, unless you are Stan Bowman.

It’s really the only thing that makes any sense, and of course, it’s illegal. But hey, rules were made to be broken… right?

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13 Comments

  1. a little clarification on something in the article which states they can only take 3 goalies.

    they can take more than 3 goalies. they are required to take 3 (and 14 forwards and 9 d-men). They remaining four picks can be of any position. So hypothetically, LV can can draft 7 goalies if they want to. Chances are they end up with 3 or 4.

  2. RJ

    Great article. I’ve been rolling my eyes at all the Darling talk for exactly this reason. Goalie is the one position at which The Las Vegas HC will have depth, no reason to pass up on talented skaters from CHI.

    Related, which goalies do you think will land in town? Sounds like Antii Raanta and Matt Murray/Marc-Andre Fleury (if he waives NMC) are pretty penciled in. Do you agree?

    • James

      @RJ
      ‘Great article. I’ve been rolling my eyes at all the Darling talk for exactly this reason. Goalie is the one position at which The Las Vegas HC will have depth, no reason to pass up on talented skaters from CHI.’

      I don’t think you should rule out the possibility of Darling. van Riemsdyk is the Chicago Blackhawks fifth defenseman. Could you imagine him as a top pairing defenseman. Kruger is a third-line center.

      This may be the strongest expansion draft ever, but this team is going to be horribly bad. The expansion draft is littered with role players and tremendously overpaid players (Bobby Ryan as an example). You can’t win anything with third-line players. I think it would be a blessing if we come dead last in the league.

      • I get that you aren’t enthralled with TVD, Kruger, or Panik, but there’s still no reason Darling would even be there for the taking. He’s not going to sign an extension and it simply wouldn’t make sense for Vegas to pay for a goalie before the expansion draft.

        • James

          @Ken Boehlke
          I get that you aren’t enthralled with TVD, Kruger, or Panik, but there’s still no reason Darling would even be there for the taking.

          I’m not sold on Darling as a starter, but the front office might really like him. TVD, Kruger, or Panik wouldn’t be bad pickups. The expansion draft is littered with good depth players.

  3. cody

    Vegas has the window but otherwise talks start July 1. If they don’t get the right guy in the draft, Darling could easily be interested as there aren’t a huge amount of openings. McPhee can follow the rules AND be in on the “Darling sweepstakes.” As for Fleury, whose name has popped up more than Darling’s, Pens have already stated he’s toast after the season and BEFORE the draft. They won’t lose Murray.

  4. James

    @cody
    ‘Vegas has the window but otherwise talks start July 1. If they don’t get the right guy in the draft, Darling could easily be interested as there aren’t a huge amount of openings. McPhee can follow the rules AND be in on the “Darling sweepstakes.”’

    I agree with you that if you want more bang for your buck it makes more sense to double dip.

    Darling is a very good backup – James Reimer signed a five-year deal with the Florida Panthers, which has merely served to muddy the waters. Ideally, it would be best to sign Darling to a one-year, “prove it” deal (Chad Johnson as an example).

  5. James

    @Ken Boehlke
    ‘So what if they conspire and “cheat” the system.’

    The risk isn’t worth the reward. For the sake of acquiring Darling and Kruger (marginal players), it would be devastating to lose a first-round draft pick for violating rules. With that being said, I have no idea how the NHL are going to enforce the rule.

  6. LV Fan

    Title should read “Scott Darling Not Coming *Back* To Vegas”…little known fact Darling played preseason for the Wranglers in 2010 before his climb back to the top.

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