In his latest Rumblings, ESPN analyst Pierre LeBrun wonders about retained-salary transactions between the Vegas Golden Knights and the rest of the NHL around the Expansion Draft.
Vegas GM George McPhee recently asked the NHL if other teams would be allowed to retain salary on players exposed in the Expansion Draft.
For example, the Los Angeles Kings are likely going to expose former captain Dustin Brown. Brown signed an eight-year deal back in 2013, when he was coming off a 52-point pace in the lockout shortened season. Brown’s play fell off a cliff the year before the extension took effect, and has not scored more than 28 points in a season since. The now-third-line-forward has five seasons remaining after this one at a whopping $5.875MM per.
McPhee wanted to know if he could offer to take Brown in the Expansion Draft, as long as Kings GM Dean Lombardi retained some of Brown’s salary. This would make Brown a more palatable pick for the Golden Knights, while the Kings would be able to move on from Brown without the high cost of buying him out.
LeBrun reports that Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly told McPhee that retaining salary would not be allowed with expansion picks. He goes on to write that Vegas will be able to make trades shortly after the final expansion fee payment is made on March 1. This gives Vegas an advantage over previous NHL expansion franchises, because they weren’t allowed to make trades until the Expansion Draft to make trades.
NHL fans (and the league head office) will be watching for GMs to start finding loopholes. While teams won’t be allowed to retain salary for exposed players, McPhee could make an arrangement with a fellow GM to select an agreed upon lesser player and then trade a late round pick in the NHL Entry Draft for a high-priced player with salary retained. In theory, the Golden Knights could take Michael Latta from the Kings, instead of a more notable exposed-player, and then trade a 5th round pick to Los Angeles for Brown with salary retained.
With the NHL watching closely to make sure every transaction passes the smell test, it will be interesting to see if this loophole gets taken advantage of, or if it’s closed before McPhee and the Golden Knights take advantage of it.
- After the Oilers 6-3 win over the Jets on Thursday night, Postmedia’s Jim Matheson argued that the Oilers should try and make a handshake deal with Kris Russell to sign after the expansion draft, which would likely prevent McPhee and the Golden Knights selecting Russell. While Matheson called Russell the Oilers “third-best defenseman” who “really solidified their back-end,” Russell is a divisive figure between the analytics world and the old hockey mindset. He gets poor results based on most analytics metrics, but he’s a well-liked, shot-blocking defenseman. Sportsnet analytics writer Stephen Burtch took a deeper look at Russell’s advanced stats, and found that only two Oilers actually get better results when Russell is on the ice: Benoit Pouliot and Zack Kassian. Meanwhile, Connor McDavid, perhaps the best player in the NHL and its leading scorer, performs markedly worse when Russell is on the ice. McDavid’s expected goals-for goes down nearly 20% when he plays with Russell. Burtch argued that Russell is not the Oilers third-best defenseman, and his skill-set of lowering his team’s goals-against is decent, but also largely based on luck.
- Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News updated the condition of several injured Dallas Stars on Friday morning. While Ales Hemsky and Mattias Janmark are both out until April with hip surgery and knee surgery respectively, Johnny Oduya (lower body) could be back sometime next week. As we reported on Thursday, the pending UFA Oduya may be on the trade block. Meanwhile Jiri Hudler has been out of the lineup with an unknown virus for a month, and remains out with no timeline for his return. The Stars could use some help, as they have a 9-10-6 record and sit in fifth in the Central Division.