According to the NHL at its general managers’ meetings, there is finally a plan for an expansion draft should either Las Vegas or Quebec City or both join the League for the 2017-18 season.
The current plan, according to the NHL: Teams can protect seven forwards, three defensemen and a goalie, or eight skaters and a goalie. Rookies and second-year players are exempt.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said this isn’t “set in stone,” and he also said there are going to be a few wrinkles. “The other variation that makes this expansion draft different is we would contemplate having some thresholds based on salary to make sure that the expansion club can be competitive based on the ranges we have in the CBA. Teams would have some obligation to expose a level of salary. And in terms of drafting players, teams would have to draft a certain threshold of salary,” he said.
Plus there’s that thorny question of no-move clauses and the expansion draft, but let’s go ahead and assume that if it’s not mentioned explicitly in the CBA that the no-move won’t prevent a player from being selected in the draft.
So, all that said … what if we applied these standards to current NHL rosters?
Imagine, for a moment, if the expansion draft was this summer. Using the rosters and contract information from General Fanager, who would have been available for a Las Vegas expansion team? (Because let's assume they get one and Quebec waits.)
Keep in mind that unrestricted free-agents obviously don’t need to be protected, but RFAs do.
We’ll assume the Ducks would protect Ryan Kesler, although that contract and cap hit would obviously be an attractive way to bait the hook. It’s defense where the Ducks are screwed: Cam Fowler, Sami Vatanen and Hampus Lindholm, running the risk of losing Simon Despres? Bottom line: Say bye to Frederik Andersen?
Arizona Coyotes (Roster)
Outside of Klas Dahlbeck, the Coyotes have so many free agents that they’re basically covered. Obviously the top choice would be Chris Pronger, right?
Would the Bruins expose Ryan Spooner? And on defense … keep Dennis Seidenberg, Torey Krug and Adam McQuaid and expose … Chara?
Buffalo Sabres (Roster)
Once again, the intrigue is on defense, where one of the expansion teams could have a slightly used Josh Gorges or Cody Franson.
Calgary Flames (Roster)
Again: Three defenseman can be protected. Which would have meant that Dennis Wideman and Deryk Engelland and Jyrki Jokipakka would have been exposed.
Carolina Hurricanes (Roster)
The Hurricanes would basically be untouched in an expansion draft now thanks to free agents and rookie exemptions. And Cam Ward can sign with Vegas on his own!
The Blackhawks, by all measures of logic, should expose Marian Hossa in an expansion draft, as he’s signed through 2021 and makes $5.275 million against the cap at 37. But then again, he’s Marian Hossa, so maybe they don't.
Colorado Avalanche (Roster)
Blake Comeau would be a forward one assumes the Avs would expose. On defense, it probably comes down to Francois Beauchemin vs. a younger defenseman.
Columbus Blue Jackets (Roster)
Friends, this is David Clarkson’s time to shine. And by “shine” we mean “please of please take this contract from us here’s a fifth-rounder how about now?”
Dallas Stars (Roster)
Ales Hemsky would be offered up to the expansion gods like a virgin sacrifice. But one assumes either Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi would be plucked from the Stars.
Detroit Red Wings (Roster)
While Luke Glendening and a defenseman like Jonathan Ericsson or Mike Green could be available, wouldn’t an expansion team go for Jimmy Howard instead?
Edmonton Oilers (Roster)
Lauri Korpikoski or Matt Hendricks (grit!) would be available, although wouldn’t Vegas love a guy like Andrej Sekera to constantly make bad decisions offensively?
Florida Panthers (Roster)
Perhaps Vinny Viola can twist some arms and get Vegas to take a Dave Bolland off his hands.
Los Angeles Kings (Roster)
Vinny Lecavalier is the poster boy for big name expansion draft bait.
Minnesota Wild (Roster)
Thomas Vanek ($6.5 million) would be exposed like a Central Park flasher, but the Wild also have a numbers issue on defense that would lead to Marco Scandella being exposed with Suter, Brodin and Spurgeon protected.
Montreal Canadiens (Roster)
Again, defense is the target here. Andrei Markov (37) would likely be exposed as Subban, Emelin and Petry are protected.
Nashville Predators (Roster)
We’ll assume that Mike Fisher get exposed here over Mike Riberio, considering GM David Poile’s slavish dedication to the latter. But that might not matter when either Ryan Ellis or Mattias Ekholm could be available.
New Jersey Devils (Roster)
Hopefully Travis Zajac has visited Atlantic City a few times to work on his blackjack game, because he’s Vegas-bound.
New York Islanders (Roster)
While we assume the Islanders would trade him before ever exposing him in an expansion draft, the necessity to protect Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy and Calvin de Haan would mean Travis Hamonic would be exposed. But again, he’ll be moved before that, so we’ll instead offer up Thomas Hickey.
New York Rangers (Roster)
That echoing “POP” you just heard was champagne being opened all around Manhattan as Dan Girardi is taken off the Rangers’ hands in the expansion draft.
Ottawa Senators (Roster)
The numbers game up front could mean that Clarke MacArthur is exposed to the expansion draft, which would be a tough call but some open cap space for the Sens.
Philadelphia Flyers (Roster)
Their best hope is that some sort of financial standard the expansion team has to meet forces them to take Andrew MacDonald off their hands. But more likely it’ll be someone like Michael Del Zotto.
Pittsburgh Penguins (Roster)
While some corners of Penguins fandom are no doubt screaming “PHIL KESSEL!” now, it wouldn’t surprise us to see Chris Kunitz offered up in the expansion draft. Over Sid’s objections, of course.
San Jose Sharks (Roster)
Paul Martin would likely be exposed here, against the Sharks’ wishes, because they have to protect Brent Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun.
St. Louis Blues (Roster)
Another tough one for defense, as Carl Gunnarsson would be quickly plucked by an expansion team, even with Brian Elliott also available.
Tampa Bay Lightning (Roster)
Interesting call here, as Matthew Carle and Braydon Coburn are going to be tossed on the fire, but with Andrei Vasilevskiy available as a 21-year-old goalie, might that be the play?
Toronto Maple Leafs (Roster)
Wait, so what happens when an expansion team is trying to draft from an expansion team? Joffrey Lupul is the obvious move here, and one images he’ll do quite well in Vegas. Off the ice.
Vancouver Canucks (Roster)
Perhaps the Canucks expose Derek Dorsett here? If not, we’re betting the potential of Emerson Etem would move to yet another team.
Washington Capitals (Roster)
Oh, the expansion draft is a cruel one for the Capitals. They’d have to expose Dmitry Orlov, an RFA, because Alzner, Carlson and Niskanen have to be protected. Unless Vegas decides they need the intangibles of Brooks Orpik.
Winnipeg Jets (Roster)
Oof. Well, Dustin Byfuglien, Tyler Myers and Jacob Trouba must all be protected, right? So while we imagine they’d trade him before the draft, we’ll have to put Toby Enstrom in the expansion draft.
So, all of this established, what would the Las Vegas Black Knights look like if the expansion draft was held this season?
Plan the parade.
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