Ok.... I know we promised you the mock drafts next - and we’re working on those diligently, and even roped Kyle into the fun as well - but there have been some key developments that will affect a few teams’ protections. I won’t go through whole rosters here, but those of you playing along at home can update your rosters on the CapFriendly Expansion Draft Tool as appropriate.
Scott Darling To Carolina
The Chicago Blackhawks’ back-up net minder was shipped out to the Carolina Hurricanes, and has since cashed in on a 4-year, $4.15M AAV deal. Darling will definitely be the goalie protected by the Hurricanes, who have struggled for years in front of the once spectacular Cam Ward and, more recently, the lackluster Eddie Lack.
Ben Bishop To Dallas
The former Kings and Lightning goaltender was moved to the Dallas Stars and has signed a 6-year, $29.5M ($4.916M AAV) deal. This move could help shore-up one of the worst goaltending tandems in the NHL, where the Stars have floundered for several seasons under Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi.
Vegas Signs Vadim Shipachyov
Out of the KHL, the 30-year-old center signed with the Golden Knights on a 2-year, $4.5M AAV contract. Shipachyov has spent the past 4 seasons with St. Petersburg SKA, and has put up more than a point-per-game for the past 3 seasons. This past year, he posted 76 points in 50 games - 26G, 50A.
Why Are These Moves Important?
Let’s hit on Shipachyov first. The KHL vet is undoubtedly being brought in to play 1C for Vegas, and that moves takes a lot of pressure off of the Golden Knights for the Expansion Draft. They no longer have to worry about attracting an NHL veteran as a free agent, or hitting a home run with a stolen diamond in the rough from this year’s expansion draft. This allows them to look at deeper prospects and draft one more spot for the future instead of for now, and (if all pans out well for them this season) show that they have talent for free agents to team up with.
The goalie situation is where things will probably have more impact on Detroit. With Darling and Bishop off the market and into protected spots, options are getting thinner for Vegas. Grubauer, the 25-year-old RFA back-up to Holtby out in Washington, is a good candidate for Vegas, but after that the names start getting a bit questionable.... and then you see Jimmy Howard. Once the anticipated Pittsburgh deal moves Marc-Andre Fleury out and Matt Murray can officially be protected, Howard could be the best goalie left available.
Jared Coreau could also be an enticing option, given his age, contract status, and that he’s shown bright spots in limited NHL experience. After all, Vegas still needs to worry about their salary cap (they can’t just take a bad contract from every team, their average contract value needs to be right around $2M) and the future of their franchise.
But there should be plenty of inexpensive, prospect-type net-minders in the vein of Coreau available for them to choose. How many All-Star goalies will be left unprotected? If Peter and I have chosen the right protections, and barring some disastrous mismanagement by Pittsburgh’s front office, these moves could have just forced the pick from Detroit.