The Expansion Draft rules state Las Vegas must spend at least 60% of the NHL’s salary cap, approximately $43.8 million, in the draft. That number is about $10-15 million short of the salary cap floor and $26 million below the salary cap.
What should jump off the page about that requirement is that the league has basically forced Las Vegas to put a competitive team on the ice right away. There’s no way the team will be able to hit the draft minimum by selecting mostly younger players with smaller contracts. They’ll be handcuffed into taking a number of larger contracts which in theory should result in better play immediately.
However, for those of us who are looking out for the long term success of the franchise, this may not exactly be the best news. Being required to select 20 players under contract and being forced to hit $43.8 million will limit the team on June 20th when they make the selections.
Throw in the “no buy-out” rule and all of a sudden not only do the requirements have to be hit in June, but they’ll stay in place until at least the following year.
In a perfect world Las Vegas will build the team through an excellent goalie, strong defensemen, and young talented forwards. With the rules in place however, guys like Dustin Brown, Matt Beleskey, and Benoit Pouliot suddenly make a bit more sense. Short term, probably good, long term, not so much.
It’s going to be very interesting to see how the new GM approaches the Expansion Draft with these restrictions in place. There are so many different ways to go especially when you throw contracts into the equation.
One thing I do know for sure, the league wants Las Vegas to be good and quick, so much so that they’re even forcing our hand. Will it have a negative effect in the long term? We’ll just have to wait and see.