TSN and ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun reported on Friday on Winnipeg’s TSN 1260 that the NHL may allow the Las Vegas Expansion team to make trades up to three weeks before the expansion draft. No NHL expansion team has ever been granted the opportunity to make pre-expansion draft trades before.
The rationale behind the move is that the NHL wants Las Vegas to be as competitive as soon as possible. While the team won’t have any players to dangle, it will have both Entry Draft picks and Expansion Draft options. This gives Las Vegas some flexibility as it attempts to build a team from scratch. It could use its draft picks to acquire players not eligible for expansion protection, or to broker a deal not to take a certain player.
That flexibility is important because Las Vegas has the tough job of trying to build a farm system and put an exciting product on the ice immediately. Those goals are usually mutually exclusive, and the team will have to find the right balance between obtaining prospects and guys with immediate skill. Luckily for the team, however, the salary cap creates more player movement as teams struggle to keep all their stars. Those castoffs—albeit expensive ones—could provide a stopgap for Las Vegas until its prospects develop.