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GM Worrying About Cheating, But We Should Be Worried About Them

A big talking point at the GM meetings, which George McPhee was not invited to, was the idea of under-the-table deals with free agents. Current GM’s are afraid McPhee and Las Vegas will take advantage of their two day window before the Expansion Draft while McPhee’s concerned unprotected players will already have deals in place with their existing teams.

The league has weighed in and said they are planning on punishing teams that try these antics.

There has to be a high level of diligence to make sure those things don’t happen and to make sure people know there will be significant penalties imposed if they were to screw around with the rules. –Bill Daly, NHL Deputy Commissioner

If we found a Club circumventing Expansion Draft rules, there would be a significant penalty, likely the forfeiture of draft picks. The most likely analog would be the 1st-Round Draft Pick penalties that are specified for violations of Expansion Draft rules. -Frank Brown, NHL VP Communications

I have two questions about this so called loophole in the rules. First, who is more likely to take advantage of the rules? Second, how would the league ever figure out someone had an under-the-table deal in place to sign a free agent which “circumvents the expansion rules?”

Let me explain using an example similar to one we’ve used before. Patrick Sharp is an unrestricted free agent come July 1st, 2017. Until that day, only the Dallas Stars can negotiate a contract extension with him. However, Las Vegas will have the opportunity to speak to Sharp for two days prior to the Expansion Draft. 

The rules state that if Las Vegas signs him, or intends to, Sharp would be the only player Vegas could take off the Stars roster. If Dallas signs him, they would have to protect him under the expansion protection rules.

Now, here’s where the deals come in. Say Sharp makes a deal with Las Vegas, but does not sign the dotted line. Vegas could select someone other than Sharp from Dallas, then sign him as a free agent a week later. Or, say Sharp agrees to a contract with Dallas, the Stars could leave him unprotected knowing, he will not reach a deal with Las Vegas and therefore will not be selected off their exposed list.

You tell me which is more likely? The team who currently has the rights to the player or the team who is looking to lure the player in? Obviously money is the leading factor, but let’s take that out and just look at the lines of communication. Again using Sharp as the example, Dallas can speak to him every day until he agrees to a contract with someone else. Las Vegas can only speak to him on June 15th and 16th. So which team is more likely to be able to come up with a plan?

But it’s not just that. Do we really think a player would be willing to stick their neck out for a new team, with a GM they don’t have a connection to (unless it’s a former Cap)? Or is it more likely the player would take the risk to ensure his current team has a better shot at success due to playing the expansion rules?

It seems rather clear McPhee has more to worry about than the other 30 GMs currently in the league, and that’s where my real fear comes in. It’s an unenforceable rule. The league can make threats and they can claim their watching, but there’s absolutely no way they’ll be able to prove any wrongdoing. Unless there’s a snitch, which would have to be the player himself, his agent (who’s paid by the player), or the team. Not gonna happen.

Every player Las Vegas signs on July 1st is going to look fishy, and any player who re-signs with his old team on that day is too. Perfectly legal transactions will look illegal and illegal ones will look legal. There’s simply no way the league will be able to tell.

The GMs see the problem, and they know there’s no way to stop it. They’ll say the right things, and act as if their scared, but in the end, it will happen, and no one will get punished.

Here’s to hoping our guy has the guts to do it as well.

**We at usually do not condone cheating. However, if it’s pretty clear everyone’s going to cheat us, we say cheat em right back!**


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  1. pfh64

    LV should just go about its business and just do what’s good for LV.

  2. Clayton

    I’m a little confused, if Dallas were to reach a deal with Sharp where they leave him unprotected and intend to sign him after the draft, can’t McPhee select Sharp and own his rights?

    • Vegas cannot select a UFA without a signed contract. If Sharp has a handshake deal with another team, he’ll never reach a contract with Vegas so they by rule cannot select him.

      The idea is so Vegas cannot simply select a bunch of players whose contracts expire in a week and skirt the Expansion Draft rules.

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