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The effect of No Move Clauses on NHL free agency and the trade market

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NHL general managers always have many factors to consider, but this summer, No Move Clauses are going to change both the trade and free agency markets.

It's a given that Dylan Larkin will be a Red Wing next year, but many other roster positions are less secure.
It's a given that Dylan Larkin will be a Red Wing next year, but many other roster positions are less secure.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The next few weeks are critical to the Red Wings' success next year, and the decisions made will dictate what lineup we see on opening night.

A GM's job is tricky at the best of times; he makes decisions based on all available information, keeping in mind that not everything is knowable. Players can be hurt in freak accidents or surprise him with a trade request. The salary cap can go up less than expected. A league can change the rules about how to build a roster.

The league is seemingly set to approve Las Vegas's bid to be the NHL's 31st team on June 22. If that happens, an expansion draft will take place next summer. While nothing has been finalized, the information being reported gives us a good picture of how this could cause teams to make roster decisions they wouldn't normally make.

One factor that will affect some teams is how No Move Clauses (NMCs) will be handled. Here's why, as reported by Chris Johnston of Sportsnet:

"Each team will be allowed to protect seven forwards, three defencemen, and one goalie - a breakdown that has remained constant since Daly first outlined the potential draft process to reporters in March.

Players holding no-movement clauses - including those modified by limited no-trades, such as Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury - count against the protection limit, provided that those contracts and clauses extend through the 2017-18 season."

Teams also have the option of protecting four forwards, four defencemen, and one goalie, basically exposing three extra forwards for the ability to protect an extra defenseman.

How this could affect trades

The provision that players with NMCs that extend through 2017-18 need to be protected could cause teams to trade players they wouldn't normally trade. It's the same thinking that causes players to trade impending free agents they feel will not re-sign with the club.

Basically, if they know they will not be able to protect a player, they may try to get something for him rather than lose him in the expansion draft.

Let's take a team like Tampa Bay because they have two problems. First, they can only protect one of Ben Bishop and Andrei Vasilevskiy. Second, assuming they don't let Hedman go to free agency next year, they can only protect two of Matt Carle, Jason Garrison, Anton Stralman, and Braydon Coburn.

The Ducks chose to trade Frederik Andersen because they can't protect both him and John Gibson. At the time this article was written, General Fanager doesn't have a NMC listed on Andersen's new contract, but Andersen should feel safe that he will be protected.

How this could affect free agency

No Move Clauses are going to be very valuable this free agency period. Many players, especially those on current contenders, are not going to want to go play on a team that will be at least several years away from competing, even with the best management, and this is the only way to be guaranteed they won't have to.

It should create an interesting game between players and GMs because it could cause a player to take a less palatable deal for a guarantee he will be protected in the expansion draft. GMs not offering a NMC may have to overpay, even by free agency standards, since the player knows they are not guaranteed to be safe from Las Vegas.

How this affects the Red Wings

@coreyWIIM is working on an article later today about what players Detroit should plan on protecting, so I will leave how this will affect the Red Wings specifically for him to cover. If you want to see what players have NMCs for every team in the league, General Fanager has a great tool.

When debating free agent signing scenarios, keep in mind that if Ken Holland brings in a free agent or two on a deal with a NMC, we can then protect that many fewer current players next summer.

One thing is for certain, the way NMCs are treated in the expansion draft is going to cause NHL general managers even more heartburn than normal.