As we roll head-long towards the upcoming addition of the Las Vegas
Desert Knights No Names to the National Hockey league for 2017-18, teams are frantically preparing for June’s expansion draft. A report from earlier this week from ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun indicates that there’s an additional wrinkle to the expansion draft proceedings:
Sources told ESPN.com that as part of these fascinating expansion-draft
rules we keep learning about, the Vegas organization will have a 48-hour
window ahead of the expansion draft in June to speak with and sign any
pending unrestricted or restricted free agents whom the 30 teams left
unprotected for the expansion draft.
LeBrun noted that if a team loses an RFA or UFA to the No Names prior to the expansion draft, that counts as a player lost in the draft (and so they won’t have anybody else claimed).
This could have some interesting impacts on the Flames.
We’ve written a bit about the expansion draft eligibility requirements for the Flames. Let’s suppose that we’re on the right track and that Brad Treliving and Flames management won’t throw us too many curve balls.
Eligible to be claimed by Las Vegas are:
- Goalies: Brian Elliott, Chad Johnson, and Tom McCollum
Defensemen: Mark Giordano, Dougie Hamilton, Dennis Wideman, T.J.
Brodie, Ladislav Smid, Deryk Engelland, Jyrki Jokipakka, Brett Kulak,
Ryan Culkin, Tyler Wotherspoon, and Nicklas Grossmann
Forwards: Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan, Troy Brouwer, Michael
Frolik, Mikael Backlund, Matt Stajan, Lance Bouma, Brandon Bollig, Kris
Versteeg, Sam Bennett, Hunter Shinkaruk, Emile Poirier, Micheal Ferland,
Alex Chiasson, Linden Vey, and Freddie Hamilton
Presuming the Flames utilize the 1/3/7 method of protection (one goalie, three defensemen, seven forwards), the thought is they’ll protect Elliott, Giordano, Hamilton, Brodie, Gaudreau, Monahan, Brouwer, Frolik, Backlund, Bennett and one of Shinkaruk or Ferland.
Now, that obviously would leave out some interesting names, many of which are pending free agents of various stripes.
- Johnson (UFA) could be a nice, low-cost backup goalie option.
- Jokipakka (RFA) is a good young blueliner who would also likely be inexpensive.
- Wideman (UFA) is a power play specialist with a great shot from the point and/or high slot.
- Engelland (UFA) is a physical veteran who has been lauded for his leadership and resides in Las Vegas in the offseason.
- Ferland (RFA) is a physical energy winger that would be fairly affordable.
Heck, you could easily argue that the best expansion picks available to Vegas from the Flames are all guys without contracts and so the free agency window probably won’t impact the Flames too much. But if you’re a Flames club wondering about Vegas taking Jokipakka or Engelland, for example, the early signing window could be a time to entice Vegas to close a deal with a UFA via a trade for a pick rather than have to worry about having an unprotected RFA get snatched away in the draft itself. (As a Vegas resident, Engelland could be a nice veteran third-pairing player for Vegas to build around, and the price of a mid-to-late round pick could be enough to retain Jokipakka.)
In other words: if the Flames feel they have some draft picks to work with and would rather not have to deal with expansion draft uncertainty for longer than they absolutely have to, they could nudge Vegas in the direction of signing Johnson, Engelland or Wideman rather than claiming anybody else.