It’s finally here…
This Wednesday, June 21 2017, the NHL will have it’s Expansion Draft for the Vegas Golden Knights. Their jerseys ,along with the other teams Adidas sweaters, will be revealed the night before on June 20.
Yesterday, a list of protected and available players was produced by the 30 other teams in the league. Vegas will choose one player from each team. If you’ve been following the developments, there’s a good chance many deals are already in place and not yet announced. Vegas was willing to work with teams who were in a tough spot and had to leave players they wanted to protect in the unprotected status–the price for the Knights to not poach one of those players was rumored to be a draft pick or young player that’s proven he can play at the NHL level. Although, I think they’re leaning more towards draft picks so that they can start building their system–the ultimate goal.
There’s some surprising names when you start looking at the unprotected lists. Probably the biggest name in terms of Forwards is TJ Oshie–who it seems the Caps won’t be able to resign the UFA.
If I’m Vegas, I’m going to try and sign Oshie, but work out a fair contract–Im not looking to over-extend on one guy (even though they can afford to do it), but it’s never good to overpay or get stuck with a bad contract.
Oshie will help provide scoring and also brings a recognizable name. If the Knights are looking to bring in a veteran to help sell the team to the city and league, Oshie would be a good start. Not only has he been a skilled player for years, but he gained household name status for his Olympic heroics a couple years back.
With no other teams entering the league, the Knights really have an opportunity to be competitive fairly quickly, since they have a lot of talent to choose from at all positions and no competition standing in their way to get those guys.
If they choose to try and be competitive immediately, that is…
I’ve been reading a bit that Vegas could be at a crossroads in deciding whether to be come out of the gates hot and put together a team of more experienced players, who could probably be competitive sooner, or, look to scoop up younger players and through trades/negotiations, stockpile draft picks.
It’s interesting because I can see both sides. In one respect, I understand wanting to be competitive immediately. It would certainly legitimize the Knights, while helping build the fan base and sell the game to a city that is about as opposite of a traditional hockey market as you can get. But, on the other hand, if you want to build a stronger club, it might take more time and some rough seasons as players develop in the minors and come up to the big club.
I believe the latter, slow burn, route is the better of the two options.
Yes. You run the risk of potentially hurting the fan growth/support in the first few seasons while the team is getting off the ground, but it’s a risk you have to take in my opinion. There’s an old saying that talks about how winning cures all. It’s true. If it takes the Knights a few years to become a winning/playoff team, that’s OK, because once they do, people will jump in to support them. That’s how it works. Look at the Preds. They had a number of lean years with some bad teams. Their growing success over the years has helped turn Nashville into a hockey market (and I hate having to type that). The last thing you want is Vegas to have a couple successful seasons and then deteriorate because they have no horses in the stable (no one in the farm system). I know this feeling all too well as a White Sox fan. For years, the Sox were an old team and tried to win by filling gaps with aging veterans instead of replenishing and building from the minors. That formula doesn’t work. If Vegas takes the same approach, they could have success early, but a potentially shaky future–which is no bueno.
I think McPhee knows this and is planning accordingly. That’s certainly the vibe I get. It’ll be interesting to see on Wednesday what that roster is looking like!
On top of the expansion/jersey excitement of this week, I have two beer league games, so…life is good.
All for now,
Second City Knight