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 SinBin.vegas Podcast and explained exactly how/why drafting an injured player makes sense in the Expansion Draft. ** (2 minute clip below, full podcast here)