In the event that the NHL decides to expand by one team for the 2017-18 season, fans would be treated to more than just the potential of a franchise in Las Vegas. They’d also soak up unknown hours in armchair general managing while discussing an expansion draft.
PHT provides an expansive breakdown of what an expansion draft might entail in this post, noting that nothing is set in stone – including expansion actually taking place – at this time.
The full details get a little fuzzy, as the New York Post’s Larry Brooks (angrily) discussed in a fiery column claiming that the expansion draft would give good teams “the shaft.”
ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun succinctly summarizes what might be on the line in a way that’s a little easier to digest, at least at this speculative stage in which certain key details (LTIR considerations, no-movement clauses) must be hashed out:
OK, so now that we have some of the baseline considerations out the way, there have been some really interesting takes on what this might mean for NHL teams.
Here are a few examples from some great hockey journalists.
Let’s start with Brooks first.
He believes the “25 percent rule” – forcing teams to expose a significant amount of cap space so they can’t just leave depth players unprotected – could generate some funky moves:
It will become a matter of acrobatics, cutting-and-pasting, and personnel decisions over the summer of 2016 predicated upon having enough aggregate salary to expose for claim by Las Vegas in June 2017. So the Rangers essentially would be obliged to keep Rick Nash next season, regardless whether dealing No. 61 might make sense from a hockey perspective, so that his $7.8M cap hit would count toward the necessary $18M.
Earlier in that column, Brooks wonders if the Rangers would be forced to risk losing the likes of Derick Brassard or Derek Stepan.
Penguins, Capitals and Blackhawks
No surprise that multiple outlets discussed what this might mean for the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks.
The Globe & Mail’s James Mirtle provides some fascinating scenarios and analysis:
Take the Stanley Cup defending champion Chicago Blackhawks. If the expansion draft is held in the summer of 2017, they would likely want to protect Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook, Niklas Hjalmarsson and maybe prospect Trevor van Riemsdyk.
But that would mean they could safeguard only four forwards, with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and Teuvo Teravainen the possible options.
Everyone else – including Marian Hossa, Andrew Ladd (if he’s re-signed), Andrew Shaw and Artem Anisimov – would be available to Vegas.
Mirtle wonders if the Capitals would be at risk of losing T.J. Oshie or Marcus Johansson while the Penguins might deal with the tough choice of goalie of the present (Marc-Andre Fleury) vs. possible goalie of the future (Matt Murray).
“Roster chaos” is a phrase Mirtle uses in imagining hypothetical choices and proactive moves.
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s Michael Russo details some potential headaches for the Wild:
On defense, things get hairy. With [Ryan] Suter protected, the Wild would have to protect two among Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba, Gustav Olofsson, Marco Scandella and Jared Spurgeon. This assumes none is traded by then and that Mike Reilly is exempt because he’ll be completing his second-year as pro.
It would seem an almost certainty that the Wild loses a good defenseman unless the Wild exposed [Jason] Zucker and a new Las Vegas franchise wanted to select the only Las Vegas-raised NHLer in history.
This post touches on just a handful of prominent teams, yet some interesting names like Marian Hossa, Rick Nash and Andrew Ladd come to the surface.
A wave of trades prior to the expansion draft could potentially provide just as much fodder.
In other words, if this comes about … you better get the popcorn (and maybe a calculator).