What would the roster of a Las Vegas NHL expansion team look like?
The NHL's Board of Governors has allowed William Foley, the prospective owner of a Las Vegas-based NHL franchise, to launch a season ticket drive.
That drive began on Tuesday, and if the the level of commitment in the market seems auspicious, the NHL will likely expand to Las Vegas in the near future.
It's possible that the club will be a team that relocates from another market (like Glendale, Ariz., for example). If it is an expansion club, though, it's likely to be a one-off arrangement, according to TSN's Darren Dreger.
So what would that club look like?
We can look at the last two NHL expansion drafts as something of a guideline. In both the 1998 and 1999 expansion drafts, NHL clubs were permitted to protect either one goaltender, five defensemen, and nine forwards or two goaltenders, three defensemen, and seven forwards.
First- and second-year players were exempt from the draft, and each club had to include at least one forward and one defenseman who had appeared in at least 40 games.
The Nashville Predators (1998) and Atlanta Thrashers (1999) were allowed to pick at least one player from each of the league's 26 member clubs.
Let's assume that players on entry-level contracts would be exempt, but otherwise the same rules would apply. Also, we're assuming that players with a no-trade clause of any sort would be able to veto being made available, but included a few who would obviously welcome a change of scenery (*cough* Lecavalier).
So if, hypothetically speaking, the expansion Las Vegas franchise - let's call them the Las Vegas Stakes - were to build their roster at an NHL expansion draft taking place this weekend, what would it look like?
Here's our best guess:
Carolina Hurricanes: F Alex Semin
A win-win. The Hurricanes ditch a bad deal, an expansion team gets a guy with star level talent.
Colorado Avalanche: D Jan Hejda
You can never have enough experienced defenders.
Chicago Blackhawks: F Jeremy Morin
Morin has serious talent, but hasn't found a place in Chicago.
Pittsburgh Penguins: D Rob Scuderi
The Penguins get out from under Scuderi's contract. The Stakes get an American-born veteran to market.
Boston Bruins: F Matt Fraser
The Stakes draft a prolific AHL scorer hoping he can grow into an increased NHL role in the desert.
Philadelphia Flyers: F Vincent Lecavalier
Lecavalier has a no-move clause, but is desperate for playing time. He waives and becomes the Stakes' first-line center and captain.
Washington Capitals: D Dmitry Orlov
Lost in a numbers game in Washington, the Stakes pick up a pretty solid puck-moving defender.
St. Louis Blues: G Brian Elliott
The Blues elect to protect Jake Allen and have too much depth up front to protect two goalies. The Stakes get a veteran starter.
Los Angeles Kings: G Martin Jones
With Elliott and Jones between the pipes, the Stakes should have a decent enough goaltending tandem.
New York Rangers: D Kevin Klein
The Rangers elect to protect John Moore, Marc Staal, Ryan McDonagh, Dan Girardi and Dan Boyle instead of the older, right-handed Klein. The Stakes nab the steady veteran.
Toronto Maple Leafs: F Mike Santorelli
The Maple Leafs elect to protect both of their goaltenders, so the Stakes take Santorelli to play on their second line.
Tampa Bay Lightning: D Radko Gudas
The Lightning expose Gudas in order to protect Andrej Sustr, and the Stakes will happily take the imposing, bearded defender.
Montreal Canadiens: D Sergei Gonchar
The Stakes add a power play quarterback, albeit one who is slowing down significantly.
Dallas Stars: F Ryan Garbutt
Forward depth hurts the Stars here, as they lose a quality third-line forward.
New Jersey Devils: F Steve Bernier
The Stakes choose to add some additional wing size.
Vancouver Canucks: F Brad Richardson
Richardson is a competent bottom-six forward, and a boon to the Stakes.
Detroit Red Wings: F Luke Glendening
Mike Babcock's favorite grinder, Glendening becomes the Stakes' shutdown center on an annoying line for the opposition along with Santorelli and Garbutt.
Anaheim Ducks: F Kyle Palmieri
The Ducks' vaunted forward depth works against them here, as the Stakes snag Palmieri for their second line.
Edmonton Oilers: F Mark Arcobello
Arcobello gets a shot to audition as the Stakes' second-line center.
San Jose Sharks: D Matt Irwin
The Stakes are counting on Irwin to add some speed to their plodding back-end.
New York Islanders: F Cal Clutterbuck
Clutterbuck's mustache will sell T-shirts, the Stakes figure.
Florida Panthers: F Shawn Thornton
Las Vegas' new NHL team needs a big-name enforcer.
Columbus Blue Jackets: D Tim Erixon
Erixon is just defensive depth at this point, but might have some untapped upside.
Minnesota Wild: F Jordan Schroeder
An American-born AHL forward, the Stakes are willing to give him one last shot to win a top-six job in the NHL.
Winnipeg Jets: F Eric O'Dell
A third competitor for the club's second-line center spot, O'Dell has proven he can fill the net in the AHL.
Nashville Predators: F Viktor Stalberg
Stalberg has never worked out in Music City, but perhaps the City of Sin will suit him a bit better.
Arizona Coyotes: F David Moss
Moss will play with Thornton and Richardson on a decent inaugural Stakes fourth line.
Buffalo Sabres: F Torrey Mitchell
Pencil Mitchell in as the Stakes' 13th forward.
Ottawa Senators: D Eric Gryba
The Stakes could take Mike Hoffman, but opt to add another right-handed shooting defender instead.
Calgary Flames: F Lance Bouma
The Stakes pick up an ace penalty-killer.
So what does the Stakes' inaugural season lineup look like? It's ... not terrible:
With the above 23-man roster, the Stakes would come in just clear of the salary cap floor.
It's not a playoff team, but that's a lot better than what the expansion Predators or expansion Thrashers looked like. Presumably better players would be made available in an expansion draft that takes place in a salary cap league, which partially explains this outcome.