With any set of rules there are inevitably going to be loopholes. Since becoming the Vegas Golden Knights GM, it’s been George McPhee’s job to find them, and subsequently take as much advantage of them as physically possible. The problem is, every time one comes up, the league tends to shut the door on it.
Could other teams retain some salary of players taken in the expansion draft by the Golden Knights? In the end, deputy commissioner Bill Daly got back to McPhee last week with the answer: no. Teams will not be allowed to retain salary on players taken in the expansion draft. –Pierre LeBrun, ESPN
LeBrun went on to explain how McPhee could still make it happen by utilizing trades, but one has to continue to wonder, what happened to the whole “NHL is trying to help Las Vegas” storyline?
Obviously the league wants to make the Expansion Draft as fair as can be for the new organization as well as the existing 30, but this one seems like a miss. Using LeBrun’s example, if the Kings are willing to take half of Dustin Brown‘s salary off Las Vegas’ hands, why aren’t they allowed to?
Why this would create an imbalance? In a perfect world, McPhee would convince every team to retain a portion of salary, but then he would be left with 30 old, overpaid players, something I doubt 2017-18 Cup contenders are afraid of. Trades can circumvent this issue, but it’ll take a lot of trust on both sides… something I don’t trust.
This does however further prove a few points we’ve been making for a while now. First, McPhee is not going to just soak up bad contracts without getting something in return. Now that we know he can’t get money in return, it’ll have to be draft picks, which is good news for the future of the Golden Knights. Second, McPhee really is exhausting all avenues. Odds are he and his team had a few names they thought would fit, assuming a portion of their salary was left behind. With that out of the picture, they’ll have to come up with another way. But with more than six months still to go, I’m confident they’ll find a new way.