As George McPhee continues putting together his staff and preparing for next June’s NHL expansion draft, the Las Vegas franchise could have a few names already on their roster when it’s time to pluck players from their future opponents.
According to ESPN.com’s Pierre LeBrun, the Las Vegas NHL team will get a 48-hour window ahead of the expansion draft to speak to and sign any unrestricted and restricted free agents set to hit the market on July 1 that are left unprotected by their teams.
For example, St. Louis Blues defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk is set to become a UFA next summer. If he’s not signed by 5 p.m. on June 17 when NHL protected lists are due, and is left unprotected, then Las Vegas will have the opportunity to get his signature on a contract. Same goes for any unprotected RFAs as McPhee won’t have to hand out an offer sheet should he want to sign one during that window.
(Las Vegas must submit their expansion draft picks by 5 p.m. on June 20, with an announcement made the following day.)
Also, any team that loses a player in that window to Las Vegas will be free from having one selected in the expansion draft.
If you look at the pending 2017 free agent crop on Cap Friendly, there are some decent names that could be out there should their respective clubs elect to leave them unprotected, which would make for an interesting June for the Las Vegas franchise.
Of course, in the Shattenkirk example, if you’re Blues GM Doug Armstrong and he’s still unsigned by then you’ll probably want to protect him and use the two weeks before July 1 to hammer out an extension, or, if it’s obvious there’s no deal to be made, trade his negotiating rights to get an asset in return.
But will any pending unprotected UFA/RFA consider signing in Las Vegas before we even know what the roster will look like?
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