The 2016/2017 NHL season officially ended last night, with the Pittsburgh Penguins winning their second consecutive Stanley Cup Championship. They are the first team since the 1997 and 1998 Detroit Red Wings to win back-to-back titles, and the 17th time we’ve seen a team win at least two Cups in a row.
They will be one of the favourites next year, and the Penguins will try to become the first team since the New York Islanders, from 1980-1983, to win three consecutive championships.
The quest for the Cup begins right away, and the next ten days will be overflowing with NHL transactions.
Here is what is on tap for the next 10 days.
- Today is the final day NHL teams can ask players to waive their No-Trade or No-Movement clauses leading up to the expansion draft. They need to submit a formal request to the player and the league. The players have until Friday to make their decision.
- Thursday is the deadline for first Club-Elected Salary Arbitration. It is also the start of the First Player Buyout Period.
- On Saturday at 3 p.m. MST, teams need to submit their Expansion Draft Protection List.
- On Sunday June 18th at 8 a.m. MST, the Expansion Draft Protection Lists will be released to the public and the other 30 NHL teams.
- From June 18th-21st, Las Vegas can negotiate and sign any UFA player and any unprotected RFA.
- On Wednesday, June 21st at 8 a.m. MST, Las Vegas will need to submit their expansion draft selections to the NHL. Later that evening during the NHL Awards, Las Vegas’ picks will be announced.
The most exciting part of this week — for fans and media, not the players and their families — will be the bevy of trades we will see prior to Saturday, when teams need to submit their expansion draft protected lists.
Saturday at 3 p.m is similar to the NHL trade deadline, except this year we can all see which teams need to make moves. Teams like Minnesota, Pittsburgh, Anaheim, New York Islanders and others will likely make a trade instead of losing a quality defencemen or goalie for nothing to Las Vegas.
Sami Vatanen will be moved from Anaheim. Ducks GM Bob Murray has had many offers, and I’m curious to see which package he accepts. He’s made trades within the Western Division, but often when he trades a “bigger” name player he moves them out east. New Jersey could use him. Same with Detroit. The Red Wings have many young, cheap forwards.
Marc-Andre Fleury will be traded or claimed by Las Vegas. Calgary, Winnipeg and Arizona could use Fleury.
Even if Minnesota convinces Jason Pominville to waive his NMC, which I suspect he will, they still are in a tough spot. If they go 4-4-1 then they still have to expose one of Matt Dumba, Jonas Brodin and Marco Scandella on the blueline, and then they could only protect two of Charlie Coyle, Nino Niederreiter, Mikael Granlund and Eric Staal. Chuck Fletcher will be busy this week making at least one trade.
The New York Islanders have some protections issues on their blueline. It looks like they can only protect one of Travis Hamonic, Calvin De Haan and Ryan Pulock if they choose to protect 7-3-1. If they go 4-4-1 then one of those three will still be available and they’d also only be able to protect one of Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome, Josh Bailey and Casey Cizikas. Garth Snow has some decisions to make.
Those are just some of the obvious scenarios. Las Vegas GM George McPhee is already on record saying he is willing to make deals to acquire draft picks in exchange for not drafting an exposed player or for selecting a player with a hefty contract.
I fully expect McPhee will make many trades between the expansion draft and NHL Entry Draft as well. He will select or sign 30 players. How many of those 30 do you think are still property of the Knights after July 1st? I could see him moving seven or eight of his “original” 30 players by July 1st. And if I’m McPhee I’m not announcing any of my trades prior to June 18th. I wouldn’t want other teams to know what deals I’ve made. Every deal is separate and if one team is willing to offer up more not to take a player or take one or for a trade, I’d wait and announce them all so they can’t compare what the other team gave up.
We still don’t know what the cap will be for the coming season. The NHLPA has to decide if they will include the 5% inflator. If they do, then the cap could rise to $76.65 million. Bob McKenzie tweeted over the weekend it is unlikely there will be no increase, but said it could vary between 2%-5%. If it is 2%, then it increases $1.4 million, up to $74.4 million.
The salary cap must be made official by June 30th, prior to the start of free agency, and one of the hot topics being discussed within the NHLPA is if they want to increase escrow. Players who are set to become UFAs want a higher limit because they can make more, but players who are already under contract don’t want an increase in the cap if it means more escrow. If they increase, escrow players under contract could potentially lose money.
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