As we’ve realized throughout this entire process, expansion is confusing. This week TSN/ESPN’s Pierre Lebrun broke open a future scenario involving the Golden Knights and the Blue Jackets. On TSN Montreal, LeBrun reported Columbus is internally debating on how to protect themselves against expansion. He gives a theoretical sequence of events.
Take the Columbus Blue Jackets. Let’s just pretend they trade for Matt Duchene (again, this is purely to make a point, folks) in exchange for Prospect X, Player X and Draft Pick X. Then, obviously, they would want to protect Duchene as one of their seven forwards for the expansion draft. That means a guy such as William Karlsson or Josh Anderson gets exposed. So that means the cost of the Duchene trade becomes what was traded for him, plus Anderson or Karlsson (who would go to Vegas). For a young team such as the Blue Jackets, that’s what they are thinking about. Which is why a rental player makes more sense for a team like that; a pending unrestricted free agent doesn’t affect protection plans for the expansion draft. –Pierre LeBrun, TSN/ESPN
Just the threat of the Golden Knights have GMs second-guessing moves that could impact their postseason. Some teams cannot afford to take on a contracted player. There’s an excellent piece from friend of the site, James Mirtle, on this same topic, but it’s behind a paywall now, so we can’t grab quotes.
“It’s no longer Player X for Player Z – it might become Player X and Player Y (exposed to Vegas)”
Very important way to look at all deals. https://t.co/zpOzaKWgEE
— SinBin.vegas (@SinBinVegas) February 14, 2017
It’s unique, because it’s not an issue of money but limited space to protect players. Like LeBrun said, if teams are giving up three assets for a deadline player, it could end up being four. Teams are working tirelessly at player protection lists and some have no room as it is.
The more people I talk to, the more I’m convinced that a lot of the expansion draft shuffling and preparation is going to take place after the season. If you’re, say, the Minnesota Wild and you’re worried about losing a defenseman in the expansion draft, I’m not sure you’re making a trade now and weakening the team in any way just to protect yourself in June. Now, one area that might affect the trade deadline is the reluctance to move draft picks in case teams want to save those picks to use in a deal to convince Las Vegas not to take a player in the expansion draft. If a GM is on the fence about trading a draft pick for a player at the deadline and is concerned about losing a good player in the expansion draft, he might decide it’s more prudent to keep a stockpile of draft picks to use as ammunition to send to Las Vegas to protect his players. Draft picks might have more value this year at the deadline for that reason. – Craig Custance, ESPN
Boy does that first sentence sound a lot like something I’ve read before. Draft picks hold higher value to certain teams this offseason because they are willing to part with them. If teams are stockpiling picks like Custance suggests, they’re simply planning on protecting an extra player. With the poor rating of this year’s entry draft, teams are much willing to trade potential for a sure thing on their current roster. But just this season.
Goaltending could be the one position in which we see movement at the trade deadline as a way to protect teams at the expansion draft. More than a few teams need a true No. 1 who could help them earn a Stanley Cup playoff berth and possibly enjoy a deep run with the right fit. The Calgary Flames are interested in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Ben Bishop and the Pittsburgh Penguins’ Marc-Andre Fleury, who are both available. Bishop has a no-movement clause in his contract, but could be willing to waive it. Fleury’s contract also protects him from the expansion draft, but he does have a list of teams he would consider going to. True Cup contenders need a solid goalie tandem, so keep an eye on Bishop and Fleury to see if they are moved. – Joe McDonald, ESPN
Well that should be good news for fans who didn’t want Fleury to join the Golden Knights. That bad news however, is if goaltenders get moved at the deadline Vegas will have less to chose from in June. In essence, losing Anti Raanta to a team in need of a goaltender right now.
The Golden Knights are the quiet menace to other NHL teams. While every other team is scrambling, Vegas is sitting back and watching. Think of the Golden Knights as The Shadow. You know, that terrible Alec Baldwin movie from the 90s. Just take out the cheesy costumes, tacky effects, over the top acting and forgettable cast.
Is there a reason that the NHL didn’t put a moratorium on trades after the deadline this year? Allowing other clubs to game the system right before the expansion draft seems to run counter intuitive to the belief that the league wants the Knights to be competitive right out of the gate. We should have also been guaranteed the first overall pick. 500 million should buy you #1 damn it.
Guaranteeing Vegas the first overall pick might have prevented teams from tanking, but tanking hasn’t been a problem so far due to the weak draft. Franchises were actively trying to lose during the Connor McDavid draft. I think the product would have been better if Vegas was guaranteed the first overall pick that year.
I have no doubt that Gary Bettman wants Vegas to succeed, but he could have done more. It will be tough sledding if we start off like the Columbus Blue Jackets. They haven’t had much to shout about in 15 years.
With the parity in today’s game we may not be out of the playoff race by American thanksgiving. This year might be an anomaly due to a scheduling quirk, but the whole league is basically still in the hunt. The loser point helps keep the teams bunched together. You could witness a meaningful game next February.