I’ve talked about Las Vegas before, mostly because we are in an era of franchise stagnation among the big 4 sport leagues in North America. No big league on this continent has expanded in size since the NFL in 2002, all of 14 years ago. When you look at the storied (and sometimes just crazy) histories of the MLB, NFL, NHL, and NBA, this might be the most impressive span of collective league stability ever. So Las Vegas kicking off the new age of expansion (oh, it’s coming for sure, looking at you NFL, NBA and Quebec) is kind of a big deal.
Like many intelligent hockey fans with low levels of socialization skills, I like to spend my spare time playing fantasy GM using CapFriendly’s Expansion Draft Tool. There’s just something about the perceived reality of the possibilities happening that make it addicting to fiddle around with if I have 5 minutes to spare. I can only imagine this is the same rush a compulsive gambler gets when they head to the casinoes.
If you don’t know the rules of the expansion draft, and you really should by this point, here’s the crib-notes version: Each existing team has 2 choices. Choice A allows a team to protect 7 forwards, 3 defensemen, and Choice B allows a team to protect 8 players of any skater position. Both choices allow for the protection of just 1 goalie from being selected by the expansion team and added to said team’s reserve list. The expansion team must pick one player from every team, but they have a few rules as well: at minimum, the team must select 3 goalies, 9 defensemen, and 14 forwards, at least 20 of those players must have contracts already in place for the following season (i.e. RFAs, or Restricted Free Agents, don’t count) and there is a minimum and maximum on the total cap hits the team acquires.
That last sentence right there is key, because it illustrates one key rule that the NHL plays by. Money is power. Those who have the most spending money, wield the most power.
And going by that logic, Las Vegas? Well, they’re the most powerful team in the NHL.