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Will Las Vegas talk trade to build an even bigger starting player system?

by Bill Placzek on Apr. 1, 2017
Protected & Available Lists for the Expansion Draft submitted on June 17th will be made public simultaneously with their distribution to the NHL clubs June 18th, prior to the expansion draft, June 20th. Since the 2017 NHL entry draft is June 23rd, this sets up a lot of intrigue.

The reason the league and many teams would want the entire lists that teams did and didn't protect, is for many established clubs to approach Las Vegas and attempt to get Las Vegas to select a player and trade them for packages of their properties.

Let's just think of Las Vegas as a long-term build. Sure, a marquee name here or there might help get the local population interested to see a few games, along with the droves of out of towners who will be planning their vacations there to see the "home/visiting team". I am pretty sure the hockey men in charge in Las Vegas understand that they not only have to suit an NHL team, but quickly stock AHL clubs filled with promising players who can be interchangeable with the their NHL line-up, and grow into stop gap fillers as their drafts yield a home grown core.

As a fan, I am rooting for Las Vegas to win the lottery in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft and move up to that #1 overall slot, because it adds a bit more safety in the player that's elect there. This draft has been compared to one of the thinnest ever, 1999, and even by pick four, where Las Vegas selects if they don’t win the lottery, the scouting lists are filled with varying opinions and the next 60 players all come with “warts” along with their possible upside. But even in this draft class, the acquisition by Las Vegas of more picks gives them more chances to find a prospect who works hard to elevate his game, conditioning, and commitment to be NHL contributing players. (Every draft has some.)

Las Vegas can’t rush their first rounder or any later picks. History has shown it more likely adversely affects development, and sometimes careers. So I think Las Vegas will be open to established clubs making backroom trades that take some of these unprotected players off Las Vegas’ wish lists. The purpose would be to bulk up a stable of solid young AHL pros who show promise as eventual placeholders at the NHL level. That is until the players from their first couple drafts can be elevated with assurance that they can grow as solid NHL pro players.

Let's just take one player and set up a possible scenario that highly illustrates this and the possibility of 3rd team trades: -Trevor van Riemsdyk can and will not be protected by Chicago, unless they make some blockbuster deal with one of the big three star defenseman before the expansion draft. Like many former Hawk complimentary defenders, is his success based on the quick-stick possession players he is surrounded with or is he a solid upside player for most NHL teams? His salary is $825,000 for whichever club owns him in 2017-18, so his Cap value helps Chicago, Las Vegas, and more than half the established clubs if they see promise and upside. Given the fact Las Vegas knows they are winning nothing right away, and good minor pros and draft picks help fill that expanse towards respectability and long term success, might their best interest be to not take a few of these players?

Chicago can offer two AHL defenders who have NHL experience, AHL forwards, and have plenty of picks to sweeten a selection away from TvR. An established club either on the cusp of elevating to the next level of Cup competition (like Edmonton), or one in dire need of a more inexpensive defensive upgrade (Ottawa, Detroit, u pick ‘em) could approach Las Vegas with any combo of players & picks to convince them that quantity over TvR enhances their long term success.

Having the protected expansion list of each team made public sets up a lot of intrigue and offers unique possibilities, especially 3 days before the entry draft.