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NHL Releases List Of Veterans Exempt From The Expansion Draft

Historically one of the ways expansion teams have “punted” on draft picks has been by selecting veteran players who will never actually play for the new team. It allows the expansion team to essentially pass on a pick and not have to take on the salary of a player from all 30 NHL teams.

The league has taken the draft and discard strategy in mind this year and is attempting to curb it by making some of the possible options exempt from the draft. Today, the league released the list of veteran players exempt from the draft. Here is the full list according to Craig Custance.

Dave Bolland (Arizona)
Craig Cunningham (Arizona)
Chris Pronger (Arizona)
Cody McCormick (Buffalo)
David Clarkson (Columbus)
Johan Franzen (Detroit)
Joe Vitale (Detroit)
Ryane Clowe (New Jersey)
Mikhail Grabovski (Islanders)
Pascal Dupuis (Penguins)
Nathan Horton (Toronto)
Stephane Robidas (Toronto)

(Clarkson and Horton have NMC’s. They will not be required to waive the NMC’s as they are now automatically exempt from the protection process)

All 12 players on the list are out with extended injuries and likely won’t play in 2017-18. Therfore, McPhee cannot select them just to soak up their salary to reach the 60% limit.

That’s not the only way to skirt the rule stating the Golden Knights must pick a player from every single current NHL team.

What we have to be careful of is drafting an unrestricted free agent without having a contract in place. We are not gong to do that unless we are prepared to lose the player. It’s a throw away pick. Let’s assume it’s a team that doesn’t have much, and we don’t want to take on a big contract, you can just take on an unrestricted free agent and not sign him, do no harm to the organization with a bad contract. –George McPhee, GM

Vegas could select an unrestricted or restricted free agent and never offer them a deal. That keeps them out of a bad contract, but it won’t count towards the 60%.

This list today proves the league is getting smarter with Expansion Draft shenanigans. In the end it probably won’t hinder McPhee too much, but it does take away one possible avenue.

**Former Assistant GM for the Minnesota Wild and author of the book How To Bake An NHL Franchise From Scratch, Tom Lynn, joined the Podcast and explained exactly how/why drafting an injured player makes sense in the Expansion Draft. ** (2 minute clip below, full podcast here)


McPhee Calls Entry Draft Weak, Then Says He Doesn’t Call Drafts Weak

Next Podcast #62: Nehme Abouzeid


  1. RJ

    First of all, Pronger? What?

    Second of all, as tempting as punting will be, I really hope McPhee only punts if there is ABSOLUTELY no value in that pick. We can be very active at the trade deadline in 2018 with players that don’t really fit into our scheme. McPhee gets 30 chances to improve our team and every pass is just one fewer opportunity. If he can turn a pick into a seventh round pick in 2020, I hope he does it instead of a pass.

    • Phisig150

      Exactly no wasted picks. Every pick should used to pick up some type of asset that can be used either immeadiately or later on down the line.

    • lazyteeds

      Pronger, like the rest of these guys, is injured and never playing again but not technically retired in order to collect the remainder owed on his contract.

      • RJ

        I get it, but has he even played this decade? Amazing mismanagement to sign a 38 yr old to a 10 year contract. Judging from this list, it looks like Arizona did this a few times too. It is just comical that Chris Pronger still has an NHL contract.

        Also if I were Arizona management, I’d claim him checking Bieber into boards to evidence he can lace up and should either retire or play.

        • lazyteeds

          Not mismanagement in the slightest. I’m guessing you haven’t been following the NHL as a whole for too long because you’d probably remember these details.

          Philadelphia signed him to that deal and it probably would have been a decent one (save for the last couple seasons) except Pronger got eye injury/concussion issues that basically ended his career. Arizona “traded” for him so that they could get the salary cap floor even though his actual pay is pennies on the dollar of the AAV of his cap hit. The don’t want him retired. They got assets out of the deal and get to the salary cap floor, it’s a win-win. They did the same with Datsyuk who spent the past season in the KHL for family reasons.

          • RJ

            Honestly I completely forgot about the origins of his contract and trade to Arizona. I’ll never understand why Arizona or any team would think paying a player who is never going to skate as a good deal; then again I’m not a GM.

            Also I’ve been a hockey fan for about 30 years, but thanks for taking a superior attitude and assuming you are the only human in America who knows about hockey. It was fun to see that insult pop up because I forgot about a contract from 10 years ago. Way to be, I’m sure that was fun for you.

        • lazyteeds

          I would reply below but I can’t for some reason. I didn’t insult you, if you took it as an insult that’s on you. I suggested you don’t pay attention to the NHL that closely. Judging by what you wrote, that was accurate. Sorry.

          “Also I’ve been a hockey fan for about 30 years”

          That’s great but it doesn’t mean you pay that close attention to the details of transactions in the salary cap era which was the whole reason I explained it to you. And after I explained it to you, you still wrote:

          “I’ll never understand why Arizona or any team would think paying a player who is never going to skate as a good deal; then again I’m not a GM.”

          I explained it to you above. But once again: let’s say you, as an NHL club, need to have $50M (nice round number for explanation) worth of contracts on the books for a given year — it’s called the cap floor. That number is based on the average annual value (AAV) of the contract even though year-to-year salaries can be above and below that figure. In fact many contracts are front loaded and decline in real dollar value over time. Now let’s say you need to get to $50M in contracts on the books, but you don’t want to actually pay $50M in contracts, what do you do? You trade for an asset like Pronger because he is getting paid $1M or something like in real dollars that but his contract AAV is like $5M. Teams that are spending to the cap want this flexibility and will often give up prospects or picks to help a deal along. You just saved your owner $4M in actual cold hard cash and probably picked up some assets or prospects in the process.

          You’re welcome, snowflake.

          • RJ

            Oh boy, you got me. Let me apologize to you for engaging in conversation. Clearly you are a hockey savant on another level than me, a mere mortal. I have been thouroughly beaten. You even called me a snowflake, which I’m sure you consider your internet finishing move. Good luck with the rest of your life.

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