The name Scott Darling is one Golden Knights fans will consistently hear between now and June as a possible option to be in net for Vegas’ inaugural season. I’m here to tell you it’s not going to happen, unless Vegas cheats.
Before we even get into why Darling won’t be under contract with the Blackhawks come June, let’s just play the game as if he were.
Take a quick peek at the Chicago Blackhawks roster as it pertains to the Expansion Draft. They have eight players with NMCs. EIGHT! Four forwards, three defensemen, and a goalie (Corey Crawford). In other words, they can either protect three forwards using the 7/3/1 method, or protect a single defenseman using the 8/1 method. Marcus Kruger, Richard Panik, Ryan Hartman, Andrew Desjardins, Dennis Rasmussen, Trevor van Riemsdyk, and Brian Campbell are just some of the names the Hawks have to choose from. Either method they choose, they are at the mercy of McPhee.
For those of you who have played fantasy sports, you understand the term positional scarcity. Those who don’t, let me explain. It means that players in a deeper pool of talent are not as valuable despite their higher skill, than those in a shallower pool. In fantasy football, that means TE Greg Olsen is more valuable than QB Ben Roethlisberger because there are way fewer quality tight ends than quarterbacks.
In the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, positional scarcity lies in skaters, not goalies. There will be upwards of 10 acceptable goalies of which McPhee and his staff will have the opportunity to either select or sign. He can only take three, likely keep two, and only start one. Meanwhile, he needs at least six playable defensemen and twelve forwards.
Scott Darling is good, but if he’s the selection off the Blackhawks, his value is limited. There’s a massive opportunity cost to skipping over the chance to get Panik, Kruger, or van Riemsdyk.
But all this is assuming Darling re-signs with the Hawks and is left exposed… which he won’t be.