It was made official by the NHL that there was two official bids for expansion franchises filed yesterday. All paperwork along with a 10 million dollar deposit had to be received by the head office at the end of business yesterday. According to the official NHL press release this morning there was significant interest with 16 applications being given out be league. However, only two potential ownership groups managed to meet all the criteria in the short time allotted. This is the official release from the league this morning.
Is it just me or does this come across as kind of arrogant and condescending? Imagine that, people can’t pull magical arena deals out of their hats. Two weeks in my opinion was a farce to begin with. Had the time frame been doubled or more I think we would have seen more bids submitted. Seattle seemed to depend on an arena deal that couldn’t materialize in time so it didn’t happen. In case you didn’t read the press release or are still unsure after doing so, the two bids were submitted by Quebecor and Bill Foley. So that obviously means the return of the Quebec Nordiques and an as of yet to be named to team in Las Vegas. Both cities are well on their way to having their arenas built with Las Vegas already starting a season ticket drive to gauge interest. That drive was going exceptionally well with well over 10000 seats sold the last time that I had checked.
That is all well and good to know that there will be two more NHL franchises in the league hopefully for the 2017-18 season, but what does it mean for the Oilers? Well for starters it will require another league realignment. I can’t see the NHL adding Quebec to the eastern conference without a team coming to the west in addition to the Las Vegas franchise. It doesn’t make sense to have a 32-team league divided unevenly. Jonathon Willis wrote an interesting piece yesterday regarding realignment and he suggested 8 divisions with 4 teams in each. Here is a link to the full article. For our purposes here is what his potential realignment would look like.
NORTH PACIFIC: Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver, and Winnipeg CANADA EAST: Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City
SOUTH CENTRAL: Arizona, St. Louis, Colorado, and Dallas
SOUTH PACIFIC: Los Angeles, San Jose, Anaheim, and Las Vegas
NORTH CENTRAL: Chicago, Detroit, Minnesota, and Columbus
NORTH ATLANTIC: Buffalo, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Washington
UNITED STATES EAST: Boston, New Jersey, Islanders, and Rangers
SOUTH ATLANTIC: Tampa Bay, Carolina, Florida, and Nashville
While I really like the idea I don’t see the league moving to this format. Instead opting to go with four 8 team divisions. That would likely mean that the Las Vegas team would join the Pacific and Columbus would join the Central in the west. Quebec would possible join the Atlantic but that would mean that another team would be forced to move to the Metro division with Boston being the most likely in my opinion. So if that is the realignment that the league chooses it does add two more teams to the west, evening out the conferences and making the west just a little more competitive with the addition of the Blue Jackets.
The other way that the Edmonton franchise will be affected by the expansion process is through the inevitable expansion draft. Teams will only be allowed to protect a certain amount of players on their roster at the time and the rest will be up for the taking by either Quebec or Las Vegas. The NHL hasn’t set the rules for how many players at each position they will be able to protect so for my purposes I will go off of the rules that were used in the 2000 expansion.
There were two possibilities for how many players a team can protect. The first version allows a team to protect 1 goalie, 5 defensemen, and 9 forwards. The second would see a team select 2 goalies, 3 defenders, and 7 forwards. Under the requirements set out in the 2000 expansion draft there was no eligibility requirements for a team opting to protect only one masked man. If a team chose to protect two however, then said team had to ensure that each protected goalie had player in 10 games the previous season, with 31 minutes of ice time being needed to e considered a game played. If ten games were not played in the previous season the other eligibility criteria is 25 games over the two previous seasons. Next rule is that every team has to have one defenseman unprotected that played a minimum of 40 games the previous year or 70 total over the past two seasons. There is also the same eligibility requirements for the forwards with at least two needing to meet the same criteria as the defenseman.
If you area asking yourself why the game limits set on players that are being unprotected it is to ensure that any expansion franchise will have the opportunity to receive players that will have some semblance of NHL experience. Now I am not saying that Edmonton is going to leave Jordan Eberle unprotected just because he will meet the 40-game eligibility requirement. That is just ridiculous and all of Edmonton management would likely be strung up outside the new arena if that ever happens. People need to be rational, calm, and logical when trying to come up with a list of players to protect on the team. There was a discussion of the writers last night about this same thing and we all agreed that analytics will play a huge role for the two teams that will potentially be joining the league.
To me selecting the players that Edmonton will protect shouldn’t be overly difficult because we have our clear-cut core players and those that aren’t. If you are not a core player at this point you will likely be expendable in the upcoming expansion draft. I realize that the draft won’t happen for at least a year but more likely two, with it occurring sometime between the Stanley Cup finals and the 2017 entry draft, but for our purposes here today we will base our picks off of the current roster as it sits. So let’s get right to it and expel some reasonably useful NHL players and a whole lot of players that are not.
First off, if the draft were to happen today I would have a very hard time not selecting option A. That would be 1 goalie, 5 defenders, and 9 forwards, There is just too much talent on the team to opt for a second goalie, there by giving up two defenders and two forwards. If I had to make the selections for the team my list would look like this:
Goaltender(1): Cam Talbot
Defensemen(5): Andrej Sekera, Mark Fayne, Oscar Klefbom, Darnell Nurse, and Griffin Reinhart.
Forwards(9): Connor McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Benoit Pouliot, Nail Yakupov, Leon Draisaitl, Anton Lander, Bogdan Yakimov, Greg Chase, and Matt Hendricks.
From my list you can tell the players that I value above all else. Thankfully there is no minimum amount of games played to allow for a player to be protected. Also with the players left there are more than a couple of options for filling the league requirements of games played. On defense with Nikita Nikitin and Andrew Ference we have two players that played in excess of forty games last year. No one said they had to play well, just that they had to play. In the forwards group we have Teddy Purcell that has been a consistent player over his career and would be a good addition to a new franchise. Along with the Teddy Bear we have Lauri Korpikoski, Mark Letestu, and Rob Klinkhammer also unprotected that would fit under one of the two eligibility criteria.
We must not forget that just because certain players are unprotected doesn’t necessarily mean that the player will even be selected. I doubt there is much of a market for Nikitin and his outrageous salary. There would likely be about the same amount of interest or even a little less in an aging Andrew Ference with two years left and a full no-movement clause to boot. The forwards would garner more interest as all the players left available are either actual NHL players or are a reasonable facsimile thereof. Of the nine forwards that I chose to protect the only two that I can see a case being made for someone else on are Bogdan Yakimov and Greg Chase. The others are all key players on the roster, including Matt Hendricks. Hendy might not be a star player, a la Taylor Hall or Connor McDavid,but he plays an integral part of this team and his leadership skills can’t be discounted. Players like Draisaitl, Nurse, and Reinhart are big parts of the future of this franchise and they deserve to be treated as such. Some may say that they would rather keep Davidson or Schultz but to me Reinhart will be the better player in the long-term.
Anyone have any issues with the players I have selected? Have a completely different list? Let me know in the comments if you agree or disagree. Hit me up on Twitter too, @cooke_rob and we can talk some puck. Thanks for reading and remember to check out the as always excellent Beer League Heroes T-shirt Shop for all your T-shirt needs. The shirt shop is here, if you are interested in checking out the great designs that are currently offered by the website. Stay tuned for the launch of the official Cooke’s Shirt Shack in the very near future as well! It will be the bee’s knees, the cat’s pajamas, like the coolest of the cool! Like , fer sure! Thanks for coming out Beer Leaguers!!!
AMENDMENT: I apologize to all the readers but I was mistaken in the rules the expansion draft. I missed the rules regarding younger players. First and second year professional players will not require protection as they are exempt from being selected. By this rule it would take McDavid, Draisaitl, Nurse, Reinhart, Yakimov, and Chase would be exempt from being selected.
With these stipulations I would obviously change my selections. No need to protect players that are exempt from being selected in the first place. Again I apologize for my error and appreciate those that pointed it out to me. Below are my new selections based on this new information.
Goalies(2): Cam Talbot and Ben Scrivens
Defense(3): Andrej Sekera, Mark Fayne, and Oscar Klefbom
Forwards(7): Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Nail Yakupov, Benoit Pouliot, Matt Hendricks, Anton Lander
I only chose to protect Scrivens because I didn’t feel there was 5 defensemen or 9 forwards that I would want to protect. I would have opted to keep Brossoit instead of Scrivens but he doesn’t meet the games played eligibility to be protected. Thanks again for reading and again I apologize for my error.