As we know, GM’s around the league are going to do anything and everything they can to take advantage of the expansion draft rules to give their team the best shot they can to retain their best players.
Well, an interesting tactic was brought to light by the great Elliotte Friedman in his must-read weekly 30 thoughts column.
If the NHL does decide to expand for 2017-18, don’t be surprised if we see some potential contract extensions kept hidden until after that draft, especially for those closing in on unrestricted free agency. What’s better for both club and player? Being exposed as a potential unrestricted free agent, or being exposed with an extension? If you’re happy where you are, the answer is definitely the former. Don’t get taken, then sign your new deal. – Elliotte Friedman
Don’t worry, it took me three or four times to figure out exactly what this means too. Let me break it down to you.
Say there’s a player whose contract runs out at the conclusion of the 17-18 season (Las Vegas’ first season). If that player were to be left unprotected, Las Vegas would be selecting a player who would be on an expiring contract and could leave in free agency the following year.
Obviously Las Vegas would like to have players extended well beyond the inaugural season, which means guys on expiring contracts would be less enviable to the expansion team and thus could be good options for an existing team to leave unprotected. So, teams will agree to contract extensions, not announce them to the public and the player appear to be on an expiring contract, when really he’s already agreed in principal to an extension.
Still don’t get it? Oh well, just know this, it might suck for us.
It’s a scary scenario for Las Vegas because it’s reasonable to believe a player taken in the expansion draft could already have a deal in place with his former team and would simply wait to leave Vegas to go back to his original home.
There’s really nothing the league can do about this, and it will surely be utilized by GM’s and players all around the league. Let’s just hope the guys that come to Vegas through the expansion draft see it as a blessing, not as a jail sentence.