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Expansion Draft 2020: Vegas’ Exemption Creating Anxiety And Drama For Other Clubs

In late June of 2020, Seattle, the 32nd franchise, will have the opportunity to pluck other teams talent at the Expansion Draft like the Golden Knights did on June 21st, 2017. George McPhee and his group masterfully duped 30 other NHL general managers, and whoever is at the helm in Seattle (maybe Kelly McCrimmon) will try to do the same. Okay maybe not all 30, but a good percentage of the league felt slighted, enough that those same general managers may just reach out to McPhee this time so it won’t happen again.

TSN’s Pierre LeBrun was on Montreal radio this week and brought up how teams are very concerned with next year’s expansion draft. Teams aren’t in the business of giving away good players… again.

It’s also created I think a bit of a unique situation… because Vegas doesn’t have to worry about a protection list and all of that jazz. I think they’re going to be a team that some clubs are going to look to as a safety valve in trying to navigate the waters around the Seattle expansion process. -Pierre LeBrun, TSN Radio Montreal

LeBrun explained that the way McPhee and his staff maneuvered the expansion rules has teams running to protect themselves this time around. LeBrun used Nashville as a team that could find themselves in a protection problem and may be forced to expose one really talented defenseman. In the scenario, this is where McPhee gets a call.

It would behoove them to try and send them to Vegas for a first round pick or a top prospect. As opposed to losing them for nothing to Seattle. I don’t know at this juncture how the league feels about that kind of trade. -LeBrun

Another twist to the expansion process is the side drama from other clubs. LeBrun noted several general managers are upset Vegas is protected from the expansion draft and won’t be losing a player.

There are GM’s I think who felt that once Seattle’s start was delayed by a year, that Vegas should be subject to lose a player like everyone else. There are definitely GM’s grumbling behind the scenes. But as Bill Daly said because Vegas is not getting a piece of the pie from Seattle, they’re the only one not getting a check, then they’re not losing a player… so that’s created some tension for obvious reasons. -LeBrun

What makes GM’s mostly worried, with good reason, is that McPhee could take advantage of franchises with protection issues, or get a jump on adding players.

Because Vegas doesn’t have to worry about a protection list they’re more willing too add players during that particular time then any other team. -LeBrun

Bill Daly told league officials not too fret about Vegas abusing their exemption. Other teams want to be reassured that the Golden Knights wont be making unfair trades during that small window before the 2020 Expansion Draft. The league will be keeping an eye on Quick Draw McPhee.

Daly hears that Vegas can’t interfere with the Seattle expansion process. The league will pay close attention to the type of trades the involve Vegas around that… Bill Daly says he’ll know when he sees it as far as something that doesn’t pass the smell test. -LeBrun

One scenario that clearly makes sense for Seattle is hiring Vegas Assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon. Obviously, as McPhee’s right-hand man he’s fully capable of handling the pressure and creativity of an expansion draft. However, if McPhee is whispering to 30 other compadres it’ll make McCrimmon’s job much tougher the second time around. Any other Seattle general manager would be at even more of a disadvantage.

All along we’re always under the assumption that Seattle will have a bit of a tougher time this time around. Teams are more familiar with the rules and the process, saw what happened with a couple of teams overreacting and overpaying on side deals with Vegas. -LeBrun

Teams like Anaheim, Columbus, Dallas, Florida, Minnesota, and Washington gifted Vegas a core to win with immediately. I’m sure most teams would like a redo. Well, they’ll have their chance in the summer of 2020. With McPhee watching on with a bowl full of Crunch ‘n Munch.

George McPhee Expansion Draft Interview Transcripts

The other day I was asked to do an interview for an upcoming documentary on the Golden Knights magical season. It’s called Valiant and it’s supposed to be released by the Summer of this year, but more on that when it comes out. I knew I would be asked plenty of questions about the Expansion Draft, so I was going through some of my notes, reading some of the articles we published around the time, and trying to relive the entire thing so I’d be prepared.

Looking back, that whole week was a complete blur, and I’m assuming it was for everyone as the Golden Knights went from having Reid Duke, Tomas Hyka, and Vadim Shipachyov to building an entire roster which would eventually go on to win the Western Conference all within about five days time.

While going through everything I found something interesting, transcripts from George McPhee’s press conferences during the three days of the Expansion Draft. If you don’t remember, teams submitted their protection lists, and then Vegas had 72 hours to submit its list of 30 selections to the league. The next day each of the 30 players were announced to a massive crowd at T-Mobile Arena and Marc-Andre Fleury, Jason Garrison, Brayden McNabb, and Deryk Engelland donned Vegas jerseys after being selected. Each morning during those 72 hours, McPhee met with the media to take questions and his answers were pretty amazing now that we have context.

It truly was a wild time and as always, time gives us perspective on things. The entire transcripts from those press conferences are below (plus a video of the Expansion Draft), but I wanted to highlight a few comments McPhee made during a time when everyone believed the Golden Knights would be among the worst teams in the league.

I think it’s going to be a pretty good team. We’re happy that, you know, we got a lot of defensemen, we got really good goaltending, we’ve got a lot of centers and we’ve got scoring on the wings. Should have good speed, so it’s going to be a good team. -McPhee on 6/20/17

Actually, I think we’ve done pretty well in all the positions. We have lots of defensemen lined up, we have lots of centers and we have scoring on the wings, a little more scoring than we anticipated. The goaltending is going to be pretty solid. It’s looking pretty good. It’s what we’ve been trying to accomplish and that is have a competitive club that people are going to enjoy watching play, and then having the draft picks to be able to draft our way to a contending team, a championship team. -McPhee on 6/20/17

Most mock drafts were full of players even fans of the teams they were being selected from had never heard of, yet McPhee was confident in speed, scoring, and goaltending. Not sure he ever thought he had just selected one of the fastest teams in the NHL, but the foresight is pretty cool.

Also, the plan was to draft the way to a championship team. Instead, they went to the Stanley Cup Final and have a chance to do so again, and not a single drafted player has stepped on the ice for the Golden Knights. Things changed quickly.

We’ve got all kinds of different screens that we’re working off of that were getting us different kinds of data that we needed. And just in terms of trying to put the team together, again, it’s not easy, because you’re trying to put all of these bodies together and you have to meet all these requirements, and again, as I mentioned yesterday, if you move one, if you make one change, it sort of changes the whole matrix. So, we just designated certain people in blue and I always use blue sort of as a ‘blue chip’ in ratings, and we usually have lots of different ratings. But, blue in this case was, this was probably a player that we’re claiming and keeping and don’t have interest in moving, and we used a different color for a player that we would claim and may have to move, just to allow us to see what the team sort of looks like as we’re making all the deals. -McPhee on 6/20/17

The mental image of that war room with names like Marchessault, Schmidt, Tuch, and Theodore highlighted in blue as “blue chip” guys is fascinating. We have a sense of which ones they got right based on long-term contracts, but it makes you wonder if there were any major misses among the blue chips. Griffin Reinhart? Oscar Lindberg? Brendan Leipsic? All were selected and kept following the Expansion Draft. Heck, Lindberg even signed a contract the next day.

Negotiating with GMs has been the same, but maybe the best way to put all of it on this whole experience, there’s just a glow about it. You know? It’s been such a positive experience for all of us that I’m keeping my fingers crossed, hoping it can continue to go the same way. -McPhee on 6/18/17

Hopefully, those fingers are still crossed.

Click through for the full transcripts.

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Golden Knights Exempt From Seattle’s NHL Expansion Draft

Historically when new teams are added to the NHL, they are exempt from the next Expansion Draft. The same was expected to be the case for the Golden Knights when the NHL inevitably adds Seattle. However, earlier this year Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly left the door open for the owners to change their mind and force Vegas to give a player up to Seattle.

Luckily, today, Gary Bettman put a halt to that potential disaster and confirmed the Golden Knights are indeed exempt when Seattle comes into the league.

This is significant news for multiple reasons for the Golden Knights.

The first, and most obvious, reason is that Vegas will not lose a player in the Expansion Draft. Clearly, that’s a benefit as every other team will be subject to the same rules the Golden Knights had when they entered in 2017.

The next is because Expansion Drafts thin out the talent pool in the NHL. Rather than there being 713 NHL roster spots being available (31 teams of 23), there will suddenly become 736. Thus, it will be easier for players to make an NHL roster, meaning the talent at the bottom of rosters will be lesser than it is now. Every other team will have to replace a player with what used to be an AHL quality player. Vegas will not.

The final reason is that because the Golden Knights are exempt, The Creator will not get his cut of the $650 million expansion fee Seattle will pay to enter the league. This is a blow to the owner of the team, but knowing The Creator, he’d gladly give up $16+ million to ensure his hockey team has a better chance of winning.

No matter how you slice it, this is excellent news for the Golden Knights. Plus, we will all get to sit back and experience all the fun of an Expansion Draft, without fear of the repercussions that come with it.

Golden Knights Exempt From Next Expansion Draft… If It Happens Soon

The Creator better keep as close an eye on expansion as he is whatever is on the KnightTron in this picture. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Vegas Golden Knights are intimately familiar with the rules of the Expansion Draft and their relative favorability compared to those in the past. Thus, if anyone knows the importance of being spared from any future Expansion Drafts it’s George McPhee.

It was reported previously Vegas would be exempt from the next Expansion Draft, however, it now appears there’s a time limit on the exemption.

Actually our expansion agreement with Vegas doesn’t even account for the exemption. We feel having looked at it preliminarily that it is a fair result that they would not have to expose players for the next Expansion Draft, if there is one. I’m sure if it’s Seattle and this application is different than if it’s 10 years from now with some other market. That’s the extent at which we’ve looked at it, it’s not called for in the expansion agreement at all. -Bill Daly, NHL Deputy Commissioner

Reading between the lines the simple way to put it is, if the Seattle bid comes through, Vegas would be exempt, if it does not, they would not be.

The bad news in all of this is that there it is not expressly written that the Golden Knights are indeed exempt. Therefore, even though it appears this will not be the case, the NHL Board of Governor’s could choose to change their path and force Vegas to expose players like every other team.

It’s really not something to worry too much about with the puck set to drop on the Stanley Cup Final in Las Vegas in less than an hour, but it’s certainly something that could come in to play in a big way soon.

Being exempt would be a major benefit for the Golden Knights as not only would they get to keep their entire roster intact, but the league would dissipate even further. Vegas would automatically get stronger relative to the entire league. Also, McPhee would have the ability to be a workaround for some teams in the weeks and days leading up to the next Expansion Draft.

It only makes sense for Vegas to remain exempt, especially if the reports are true that The Creator would not receive a cut of the expansion fee. The league appears to agree, but only for now. Hopefully the next seven games don’t change that.

Expansion Draft Report Card – First Quarter Year 1

We’ve hit the quarter pole of the Golden Knights first season in franchise history. With it comes no better time to begin what’s going to become a staple here at SinBin.vegas, the Expansion Draft Report Card. There will be a total of three report cards each year until it becomes unnecessary. Preseason, post-deadline, post free agency. This serves as the preseason one for year one.

Each selection is graded based on value. Factors taken into consideration rank as follows: Play of player selected, impact on franchise currently, impact moving forward, and other options that were not taken.

So here we go…

Anaheim Ducks
Selection: Clayton Stoner
**TRADE: Golden Knights receive Shea Theodore for Expansion Draft considerations**

One day I’ll earn McPhee an A. (Photo Credit: SinBin.vegas Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

Theodore remains the most talented defenseman on the roster and despite the early “number decision” stint in the AHL, he appears here to stay. He’s taken over the main defenseman spot on the power play and even tallied his first goal in a recent game. This guy should be a Golden Knight for a long time and his future looks incredibly bright. It’ll be an A+ if he turns out to be what we expect, but at this point, he’s still finding his place. The grade also has to take a bit of a knock because of all the other options from the Ducks. Oh, and Stoner is likely not going to play for the Golden Knights at all. Grade: B+

Arizona Coyotes
Selection: Teemu Pulkkinen

The hard-shooting winger couldn’t crack the team out of camp. He’s currently tearing up the AHL with the Wolves, but has yet to get the call back to Vegas. The options were thin from the Coyotes so it’s hard to give a terrible grade here, but it doesn’t seem as if Pulkkinen will ever fit with what Gerard Gallant is looking to do with his team. If he gets recalled at some point things may change, but at the moment, it appears to be a pick that won’t ever pay dividends for the Golden Knights. Grade: D

Boston Bruins
Selection: Colin Miller

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Let’s Talk About MAF, Baby

Today was a big day in the world of Marc-Andre Fleury rumors, as the Penguins officially asked the back-up goalie to waive his No Movement Clause (NMC) to allow Pittsburgh to expose him for the Expansion Draft.

But before we go into the significance of that news, let’s go all the way back to October when the Penguins signed Matt Murray to a contract extension. At that point, it was clear one of two things were going to happen (whether at that moment or later), either the Penguins knew Fleury was going to waive his NMC, or the Penguins were planning on giving up assets to the Golden Knights in exchange for passing on Murray in the Expansion Draft.  We now know, the more likely of the two has happened. Fleury has waived his NMC and the Penguins will protect Murray.

So now on to the next portion, “only for Las Vegas.” Here are the important facts surrounding Marc-Andre Fleury, his contract, and the Expansion Draft.

  • Today, June 12th, was the last day “for Clubs to request that a player ‘waive’ his ‘No Move’ clause for purposes of Expansion Draft.” (From NHL press release)
  • Fleury has two clauses on his contract, a “No Move” clause and a “Limited No Trade” clause. These are part of the contract he signed with the Pittsburgh Penguins in November of 2014.
  • Players with NMCs must be protected in the Expansion Draft, unless the player agrees to waive it.
  • All contracts will be taken over, with clauses, when the Golden Knights select a player in the Expansion Draft.
  • Fluery’s limited NTC includes a list of 18 teams in which he can be traded to. The remaining 11 he must sign off on if a deal is made. We are unaware of which teams are on this list.

So, today, Fluery waived his NMC, for one purpose, the Expansion Draft. Once he is selected by the Golden Knights (or not selected by the Golden Knights) his NMC will be reinstated. His limited NTC does not affect the Expansion Draft, and will stand whether he is on the Golden Knights or the Penguins on/during the Expansion Draft.

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Calgary GM Thinks Vegas Is Getting Flawed Centers And Overpriced Wingers

Flames GM Brad Treliving was on Sportsnet radio yesterday discussing the Expansion Draft. Calgary doesn’t seem too concerned about their situation heading into the NHL’s 12th Expansion Draft. Returning from the Rookie Combine, Treliving noticed the impact of the Expansion Draft right away. It was a very active week among NHL front offices.

The combine for me was a little bit unique. The attendance was to the level it was, and busy. It’s busy, in the sense that everybody is trying to make themselves better. You’ve got this Expansion Draft, and you’ve got some activity that’s gonna take place. So, conversation has picked up for sure. -Brad Treliving, Calgary GM, Sportsnet 960

The Flames GM seems well prepared for the Expansion Draft and even discussed running a few mock drafts of his own. (We are still waiting for his entry into the SinBin Expansion Draft Contest) However, he knows it’s impossible to predict how it will play out. One thing Treliving can confirm is George McPhee’s plan to take back as much value as possible.

I think we’ve done three [mock drafts]. I think their view point, and it’s the correct view point, is it’s not so much an Expansion Draft as it’s an accumulation of assets. Future assets for them. Whether that’s picks, prospects. -Treliving

It’s nothing we don’t already know, but interesting to hear it from an opposing GM. Treliving suggested multiple teams will want to pluck from the pool of players Vegas selects. Teams could add the type of player they’re looking for through the assistance of expansion. Treliving makes it sound like an old-fashioned swap meet.

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Another Russian Could Be Perfect Expansion Draft Target

If you follow the league really closely, or played NHL 16 when the Dallas Stars were the most fun team to use, you’ll remember the name Valeri Nichushkin.

The 10th overall pick in the 2013 Draft by the Stars had a standout rookie season in 2013. But a rash of injuries and disagreements with the Stars coaching staff led him to head back to the KHL this season.

With the KHL’s financial troubles, and the coaching change in Dallas (Lindy Ruff out, Ken Hitchcock in), it appears Nichushkin may be ready to come back to the NHL.

He’s in Russia now and it’s 50-50 on whether we get him back next season. In the end it’ll be up to him if he wants to come back. It’d be huge for our franchise if we can get him back. – Joe McDonnell, Dallas Stars Director of Amateur Scouting

Not knowing Nichushkin’s situation makes the upcoming Expansion Draft quite the headache for GM Jim Nill.

They need to know his plans by June 18 to make an informed decision on who to protect. Otherwise, they’d potentially be cornered into protecting him to retain his rights even if he’s in no-man’s land. It would be an acceptable outcome to lose a player like (Cody) Eakin or (Antoine) Roussel if the Stars get Nichushkin as the replacement. But to protect Nichushkin and lose one of those players, only to discover weeks later that the former is staying in the KHL, would be a blow to a team that’s trying to win now while (Jaime) Benn and (Tyler) Seguin are elite players. –Satchel Price, SBNation.com

If he’s unprotected, whether he plans on coming back in 2017-18 or not, Valeri Nichushkin is the perfect option for the Golden Knights. He’s 22 years old, won’t command a large contract, has the talent of a top line forward, and has proven it at the NHL level… at the age of 19 nonetheless.

In the event Nichushkin is selected by Vegas and chooses to remain in Russian, the Golden Knights retain his rights until the age of 27. If he opts to come back, they can sign him to a one year qualifying offer worth less than $1M, or sign him to a longer term deal worth probably triple that.

Remember that Shapachyov guy? Maybe he can come in handy here. How bout a quick text? Пожалуйста, верните Валери (Please come back Valeri).

That should do it. But hey, even if it doesn’t, there’s not going to be many players better (and younger) than Nichuskin in the Expansion Draft. He’s absolutely worth a shot.

(Oh, and if they do protect him, it might be even better news for the Golden Knights. Hey Cody Eakin, you thinking Summerlin or Henderson?)

Common Players Found Across TSNs New Expansion Draft Mocks

Two of TSN’s top analysts released their expansion mock drafts with many similarities. TSN’s Director of Scouting Craig Button and TSN’s Senior Hockey Reporter Frank Seravalli are two that are clearly in the know. From the players selected is it possible some secrets are already out of the bag?

Let’s start with the obvious. Go ahead and Twitter search “Marc-Andre Fleury + Vegas.” You’ll read multiple tweets about his eventual move to Las Vegas. In fact, there are even rumors floating that MAF’s wife was in Southern Nevada house-shopping. If any of our real estate friends out there can confirm this story we’d all appreciate it.

Both Seravalli and Button have Fleury taken as the Golden Knights first goaltender. Possibly the outcome of this season could impact the Cup-winning backstop’s decision. After his stellar performance in the first few series the hockey world realized Fleury has a lot left. In fact, there’s a running theory that Fleury and Matt Murray could split the Conn Smyth trophy. Talk about leaving Pittsburg on a high note Costanza. At 32-years-old, Flower could be a valuable commodity for any team. However, according to TSN experts, Fleury will waive his NMC and settle into his six-bedroom/ten bath Summerlin house Mrs. Flower picked out.

A second player selected by Button and Seravalli will be excite the local core. For all that are still upset about the absent “Las” you’ll be happy to read the name Jason Zucker on both mock drafts. Personally, seeing the Wild’s forward selected puzzles me. From all accounts, Minnesota doesn’t seem prepared to move on from the 22 goal-scoring winger. Maybe, the Wild are warm-hearted and will reunite Las Vegas with a native son. The question is, what will it cost the Golden Knights.

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McPhee Says He Needs To Complete Trades Before The Expansion Draft

Tomorrow is June, and with June comes what will be the most exciting month in Golden Knights history for the first few years at least. June brings the Expansion Draft, the Entry Draft, and all the movement that goes along with it leading up July 1st, when free agency officially opens.

June 21st will be a monumental day in the history of the club, but for those of you who can’t wait until then, the Golden Knights GM has some good news.

I’m hoping we can start (announcing trades) next week. We’re expecting a lot more conversation and a lot more depth to the conversations and I’m hoping that we can start getting a few deals done because I think it’s going to be a lot to ask to do them all within the expansion window. –George McPhee to TSN

The Expansion Draft is 72 hours long, which sounds like a lot of time, until you remember that NHL trades still go through fax machines. That’s probably not true, but the fact is, with this league things do tend to take forever, even when there’s no longer a reason to wait.

McPhee and the 30 other GMs he’s looking to fleece trade with will have to iron out every last detail of each transaction they pull off. That means contracts, salary cap implications, draft picks, expansion rules, paperwork, a much more, and with each one, the league must sign off before it’s complete.

When McPhee says “it’s a lot to ask,” he’s speaking out of experience, basically saying, we need to get as many trades done before those 72 hours so there’s no ticking clock to screw any of them up.

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