There are plenty of differences between the Golden Knights and the two Stanley Cup participants? However, there’s one you may not have thought about, and one TSN’s Pierre LeBrun thinks is significant.
Neither the Blues nor the Bruins have a player making more than $8 million per year.
The St. Louis Blues highest paid players, Vladimir Tarsenko and Ryan O’Reilly earn $7.5 million annually. Center David Krejci is the Boston Bruins wealthiest player making $7.2 million per season. Needless to say, the team that hoists the Stanley Cup will do so without one of the league’s highest-paid players.
The four teams we have left in the playoffs do not have a single player making more than $8 million. Is there something there, or is just a one off? No one has a double digit player. The money is spread out… Is that they way to go? Is that the way you find depth? -Pierre LeBrun, TSN
An $8 million player makes up for roughly 11% of a team’s salary cap. Golden Knights winger Mark Stone will begin collecting his dough next season when his 8-year/$76 million deal kicks in. That will make Stone the 12th highest paid player in the NHL. His $9.5 million yearly payout will be the third most for a winger, which could move to fourth once Mitch Marner inks a deal. Stone’s cap hit next season will be 11.63% of the team’s available cap.
The theory was debunked by the last two Stanley Cup champions. Alex Ovechkin’s $9.53 million didn’t hurt the Washington Capitals Stanley Cup run. Nor did the salaries of Sidney Crosby ($8.7 million) and Evgeni Malkin ($9.5 million) affect the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2015-2017. In total, they are the only three players in NHL history to raise a Stanley Cup making an average of $8 million per season. While it’s a practical theory, it’s hard to argue against retaining and signing elite NHL players.
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.
Two years in a row the Stanley Cup will be fought for by Pittsburgh and a “non-traditional market.” Like San Jose last season, Nashville won the West and made it to their first Cup final in franchise history. Analysts, like Pierre LeBrun believe the Golden Knights can learn from teams like the Predators and Sharks. If the empty seats in Ottawa didn’t blow up the whole anti-hockey in warm climate traditionalists, nothing will. Let’s face it purist punks, you didn’t see any empty playoff seats in Nashville and San Jose.
This year’s San Jose is Nashville. Another non-traditional market that has been run the right way. Just like the Sharks, always have been. Always had a loyal following. Good ownership. And here they are… you have model organizations from non-traditional markets in San Jose and Nashville that get to the final. –Pierre LeBrun, on TSN Hamilton 1150
LeBrun believes Vegas can become a successful franchise by designing themselves after the Sharks and Predators organizations. Sure neither team has secured a Stanley Cup of their own but both franchises are well-run and consistently competitive. San Jose has qualified for the postseason 19 times in 25 seasons, and Nashville has qualified 10 in 19 seasons.
Not only does Nashville prove that, but we had it last year with San Jose reaching the Cup final. And what a wonderful story it was for the Sharks. Finally get over the hump and get to the final after years and years of being a contender. People took for granted that the Sharks sell out all the time. Oh yeah, San Jose. Shark Tank. What’s so different about a team in the middle of San Jose, California having success when teams in Arizona and Carolina haven’t hadn’t had as much success the last ten years? The difference is stability in management. -LeBrun
Consistency keeps fans interested and loyal. Once Vegas builds that strong, faithful fanbase, it’ll be easier during periodic lean years. Another factor LeBrun mentioned a few times. Nashville and San Jose have strong ownership and a dedication the fans to win. Who does that sound like? It’s really that way across all the professional leagues, it starts with a strong owner.
Now it’s no secret you come to SinBin.vegas because you’re sure there’s no one on the Internet more informed about the Golden Knights than us. Knowing this, you take everything we say as Gospel. You then spend much of your day preaching what you read and hear on this site to the rest of the valley spreading our wealth of knowledge and making Las Vegas a better place. But… sometimes it’s nice to hear someone much more famous than us say exactly what we’ve been spewing for the past two years to remind you of why you still come here and read this s**t these articles.
Well that someone else just so happens to be the venerable, Pierre LeBrun. In an interview with WGR 550 in Buffalo, which I highly recommend you listen to in its entirety (or at least start at 8:30 when they talk about Vegas), LeBrun spits some hot fire about the upcoming Expansion Draft. And as it turns out, especially if you listen to the SinBin.vegas Podcast, it’s stuff you’ve probably heard before.
Here’s the reality, Vegas is not necessarily going to take the best player available and that’s where everything gets skewed. The reality is, George McPhee is going to do a number of side deals. (Don’t take player X in return for an asset) -Pierre LeBrun
LeBrun wouldn’t put a number on how many he expects to come out of the Expansion Draft, but did mention on multiple occasions that McPhee’s phone has been lit up in the recent weeks and will likely stay that way for the next month.
Once you see the roster remember something else, there’s a real good chance maybe up to a third of those players you see on that list on June 21st aren’t even with Vegas come October. There’s going to be a lot of flipping I think. -LeBrun
During the GMs’ smaller group sessions on the opening day of meetings, one of the assemblages did in fact discuss the playoff format during its open brainstorming session. The feeling in that smaller GM group, according to a source, was that it might be time for change. – Pierre LeBrun, ESPN.com
The current playoff format system will end after the 2018-2019 season and the league will need to make a decision. The suggested format would mimic the nasty 1980’s true divisional playoffs. So the question is, which playoff system would be best for Vegas to qualify for the postseason?
The “old school” format LeBrun and the GMs he spoke with are proposing is a 16 team, divisional playoff. Their argument is for either a divisional or conference system, not both the way it currently stands. The divisional postseason proposal would look like this: #1 Pacific seed vs. #4 Pacific seed, #2 Pacific seed vs. #3 Pacific. After that bloody round, the winners would play each other. Four teams would qualify from each division. No wild cards.
If the Golden Knights only had to worry about 8 teams it brings up an interesting argument. Divisional games are supposed to mean more now but the twin wild cards water it down. The proposed divisional regular season becomes incredibly important which means fans will see entertaining hockey. When teams are familiar with each other it can benefit the underdog which Vegas will be on most nights.
If the league went back to a traditional conference playoff, Vegas would have a tough fight reaching the top eight. Lebrun noted the league isn’t in favor of a conference playoff. The travel always concerns league officials and NHLPA. Which brings us back to the current format. Not only are teams battling with divisional rivals but fighting out the entire conference for two wild cards. It will be tough for Vegas to sneak in over the next two seasons before the present postseason expires. If they’re just fighting against the Pacific, I think the Golden Knights have an outside shot.
If the league decides to go back to a true divisional postseason we could only hope they bring back the old classic names. Instead of Patrick, Smyth, Norris and Adams we could modernize the four divisions. Maybe Orr, Messier, Lemieux and Gretzky. Or Melrose, McGwire, McPhee and McKrimmon.
This strange saga keeps getting stranger. We’ve long expected the NHL Expansion Draft protections lists to be made public the day the Golden Knights 72 hour draft period begins allowing speculation to dominate the world of sports talk. Then recently we found out the NHL may keep the lists private from the media and the pubic in what would be a giant mistake.
The managers have expressed a preference for maintaining the confidentiality of that information. We will make a final decision in due time. There is no rush here. -Bill Daly, NHL Deputy Commissioner
The issue here, I think, is that some GMs are hesitant to let everyone else in the league see how they are ranking or otherwise valuing their own players. I would argue that they already do show their cards when they reveal how they compensate the players in terms of salary. But I suppose that, if lower-paid players end up getting protected over higher-paid players in some cases, teams might not want that kind of naked truth being blatantly blasted out there for posterity. –Pierre LeBrun, ESPN
Before you go nuts about how ridiculous this is, let me take a moment to explain why this is the only way as a Golden Knights fan you should be okay with them not making the lists available to the public.
As the general manager meetings set to wrap up, stories a plenty are pouring out about what was discussed and what changes may be coming soon. Obviously, here at SinBin.vegas we have our eyes and ears pinned on one specific topic, that of course being expansion.
As we’ve discussed many times before, any expansion news that does not flat out close the process is great news for Las Vegas. So, rather than break down all the news and tell you why it’s all good, I’ll just hit you with a bunch of tweets, quotes, and even a video to get you up to date.
The argument for general managers is quite simple. If we are to make the best decisions for our franchise moving forward, we need to know the rules of a potential expansion draft so we can prepare. We used common sense to come up with this, but it appears hockey reporters are now are hearing it directly from the source.
We’re excited to find out the rules if there is expansion. It’s certainly nice to get those rules so you can make your business decisions short- and long-term based on making players available — if there is expansion. – Doug Armstrong, St. Louis Blues GM
This isn’t the important news for Las Vegas though. Obviously general managers want the information for preparation purposes, but these guys prepare for everything, so there’s no reason to really read into their requests as confirmation expansion is happening.
One GM said to me he saw the proposed rules and he goes, ‘You could lose one of your best young players under what’s being proposed right now.’ -Pierre LeBrun
“Under the proposed rules.” Which means, there are proposed rules. They are indeed discussing topics well beyond “do we actually want to expand.”
What the executive committee has been shown as the original ideas from the league for an expansion draft has them being exposed and losing some pretty good players.
We speculated this might be the case based on the ridiculous $500 million cost of the franchise. The assumption was if the league was going to charge so much, they would have to give the new team(s) a real chance. This quote further confirms the league is indeed proposing rules which would leave some excellent players unprotected.
The unnamed GM did go on to say however the decision on whether or not to expand has not been set in stone yet.
So that’s part of the debate as well, is the yin and yang of, ‘Do we want new teams,’ and ‘How much are we going to enjoy losing a really good player or two in the expansion draft?’
Here’s the problem with the statement. If the rules are “too loose” for the liking of the owners, it absolutely should not be the reason Vegas is denied get a team. Of course The Creator, his organization, and us fans all want the team to get the best talent possible, but I’m sure we would all agree we’d rather have a bad team than no team.
This does mark the first time we’ve had a great source confirming the owners are hung up on expansion rules. We appear to have fully clearly the, “is Vegas good enough” stage, which means just one thing. It’s only a matter of time til our dreams become a reality.
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