The Vegas Golden Knights could be players on TradeCentre 2017.
Golden Knights GM George McPhee will be permitted to execute trades and transactions ahead of the March 1 trade deadline, so long as owner Bill Foley satisfies the requirements to officially make Las Vegas as home of the NHL’s 31st franchise in the days prior.
The plan is for Foley to wire the final installment of the $500 million expansion fee on or before March 1, though the date has not been set in stone.
Whenever that payment is made and all the paperwork is completed, McPhee will be able to begin stockpiling assets in trades, including those for expansion draft considerations.
For instance, the Golden Knights may acquire a draft pick, prospect or future considerations from another NHL team in exchange for their agreement to not select a particular exposed player in June’s expansion draft.
Many teams will be interested in negotiating with Vegas to ensure a certain vulnerable player will remain with their club. There were three such trades made ahead of the 2000 expansion draft, with San Jose trading with both Columbus and Minnesota for their agreement to not select goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.
The Golden Knights will reveal their expansion draft selections on June 21 in a made-for-TV event, either in conjunction with or separate from the NHL Awards, held the same day in Sin City.
That Vegas could be allowed to officially conduct business prior to March 1 could create a small trickle-down effect on the overall trade market. For one, with teams allowed to negotiate with Vegas directly, they may not be forced to move a vulnerable player to another club now. And with that protection certainty achieved, another player on the roster may be freed up to move.
Trades for expansion draft considerations will be allowed to be made after the March 1 deadline, should Foley and the Golden Knights not complete all of the necessary steps before the deadline.
But there are limits on whom the Golden Knights will be permitted to acquire until June.
With the puck not dropping at T-Mobile Arena until October, the Golden Knights will not be allowed to acquire any player active during this season with the intention of stashing him until 2017-18. That would also exclude injured players who have been ruled out for the remainder of this year.
Vegas would, however, be permitted to acquire prospects playing at the junior level, as well as players from another team’s protected list playing on loan overseas. They will also be allowed to begin signing NCAA and CHL free agents.
McPhee, hired on July 13, 2016 shortly after the announcement of the franchise, will also be welcomed to attend the NHL’s next GM meetings, held on March 6-8 in Boca Raton, Fla.
Scouting and preparation have been underway for months, with the Golden Knights scouring rinks for potential free agent diamonds in the rough and draft-eligible players.
The Golden Knights sent six scouts to Centre Videotron in Quebec City on Monday night for the CHL Top Prospects game. They will have equal odds as the NHL’s 28th place finisher in the draft lottery in April.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman also hinted over the weekend that Las Vegas could be a ready-made option to host the 2018 All-Star Game, should NHL players not participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. By this point last year, Los Angeles was already announced to host this year’s game - but any plans for 2018 are currently in a holding pattern.
Bettman did not deny that there is an agreement in place as part of the $500 million expansion fee that Las Vegas will host an All-Star event in the near future.
“I'm certain we didn't commit on a date, but I think our intention is at some point in the earlier days of the franchise as opposed to 20 or 30 years down the road,” Bettman said Saturday. “I think we could have fun in Las Vegas with an All-Star Game.”
Contact Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @frank_seravalli