I am as excited as anyone for the draft announcements this Wednesday. In terms of a roster, Vegas must abide by certain restrictions in terms of player positions along with meeting a minimum cap size. Specifically:
Vegas must select one player from each presently existing club for a total of 30 players (not including additional players who may be acquired as the result of violations of the Expansion Draft rules).
* Vegas must select the following number of players at each position: 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders.
* Vegas must select a minimum of 20 players who are under contract for the 2017-18 season.
* Vegas must select players with an aggregate Expansion Draft value that is between 60-100% of the prior season’s upper limit for the salary cap.
* Vegas may not buy out any of the players selected in the Expansion Draft earlier than the summer following its first season.
The requirements for players only add up to 26 players. This means that 4 players can be added as a surplus in positions. One of these positions must be used for a goaltender.
Many teams around the league have extremely reliable backups. Look at any playoff team, and they likely possess a solid #2 in the crease. As of now, Fleury is the most talented goaltender available, as he contended for the starting job on the back to back Cup winning Penguins. If the Penguins don’t secure a deal in advance they will lose the Marc Andre Fleury for nothing. Raanta, Grubauer, Pickard, Korpisalo, Mrazek, Halak, and Kuemper are all goaltenders that could fill this surplus.
In a case like Halak or Kuemper, there are players available that would be much more valuable. In Minnesota’s case, Matt Dumba has been rumoured to be the top selection.
In both these players case I would assume they won’t be picked unless there is a pre-negotiated deal put in place.
Now the expansion draft protects players, until Vegas has made a selection. Don’t be surprised if George Mcphee takes one of these surplus goalies, and flips them for numerous draft picks or a player otherwise unavailable in the expansion draft. This could include players who are exempt for age reasons as well.
This summer many goalies will be UFA’s around the league. These contracts will be large and often for years beyond a goalie is in their prime. Many of the goalies signed this summer will be overpaid. But acquiring a cap friendly goalie with several years on their contract would benefit many teams.
The goaltenders Vegas can draft are all under contract and would likely to be able to fit in Chicago, New York, Washington, Boston, Columbus and several other contenders. Each team could potentially be looking for a reliable backup in the crease.
Boston is a team I would consider extremely desperate for a reliable backup goalie. Anton Khudobin’s best seasons are behind him. Tuuka needs a stable backup role as he should not be starting 65+ Games per season, and then battling in the playoffs. Especially with the compact regular season which emphasizes back to backs. Ideally he would never start both in back to back. While Khudobin had stellar performances in previous years, Boston’s young goal tending in Zane Macintyre and Malcolm Subban have been abysmal. They combined for 9 Games Played, (with 4 started) and had zero wins. This isn’t unusual as both played in games in relief positions after numerous goals have been scored. But what was truly damning of the situation is that neither posted a Save Percentage above .860. Of course it is a small sample size, not having a prospect ready to embrace a backup role is concerning.
Boston is not the only team with this problem. With so many free agent goalies being set loose this off season, many goalies will be pursuing large and extended contracts.
If a team can acquire a cost effective, AND reliable backup it would be an extremely worthwhile acquisition.
Current contracts for potentially drafted backups. I have listed these goalies from most valuable to least valuable in terms of age, contract and potential ceiling at the NHL level. I have excluded Fleury because if he is drafted he 100% should be the starter in Vegas.
Vegas will draft a surplus in goalies for their system. Then the next logical move would be to move their surplus of goalies throughout the league for picks or prospects. As i’ve discussed in previous articles the accumulation of young talent is best case scenario for George Mcphee.
Expect him to move a goalie come July 1st.