Random Thoughts on the NHL – June 21, 2021

by | Jun 21, 2021 | Soapbox | 22 comments

Some NHL followers were grumbling on social media over how the Vegas Golden Knights got more favorable expansion draft rules compared to previous clubs entering the league. Those complaints arose during the Golden Knights march to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final and resurfaced as they reached this year’s semifinals

The previous rules hamstrung the expansion franchises of the 1990s, ensuring for some a long, difficult road toward playoff contention. Some struggled longer than others, largely because of impatient owners, incompetent management or both.

In hindsight, the Golden Knights benefited from those changes to the expansion draft rules. But let’s be honest folks, no one looked at their initial roster and thought, oh, yeah, that’s an instant Cup contender.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).

Their most notable player was goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury, considered past his prime by that time. There were also several skilled veterans in Jonathan Marchessault, Reilly Smith, David Perron and James Neal, plus some promising players like Shea Theodore, Alex Tuch and William Karlsson. The rest of the lineup was comprised mostly of depth players.

Anyone who declared the Golden Knights a playoff contender entering 2017-18 would’ve been considered naive. Those declaring them a Cup contender would’ve been dismissed as lunatics.

Yet here they are four years later, a club with a solid foundation forged by the former general manager (now team president) George McPhee and built up by current GM Kelly McCrimmon, well-coached first by Gerard Gallant and now Peter DeBoer.

It wasn’t favorable expansion draft rules that made the Golden Knights what they are today. It was savvy management and coaching, something the Seattle Kraken hope to emulate approaching their inaugural campaign.


One benefit of this season’s compacted NHL schedule is we don’t have to endure the cringe-worthy train wreck of the league’s annual award show. Instead, the individual awards are announced by the league, with the winner giving his acceptance speech from his home via Zoom or Skype.

It’s so much better than seeing NHL stars gathered in Las Vegas chafing in their finery enduring has-been musical acts and unfunny comedy routines. This year’s winners seem almost relieved they don’t have to go through that dog-and-pony show.

The league should make this a permanent change but they won’t. The powers-that-be think hockey fans want to watch their favorite stars sitting through its lame-ass version of the Academy Awards. Most couldn’t care less. Those who do so only for the opportunity to mercilessly mock it on social media.


Loyalty is a big reason why Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour turned his club into a rising force among NHL teams. It played a part in why he’s this year’s winner of the Jack Adams Award as coach of the year.

The Hurricanes wanted to re-sign Brind’Amour and he wanted to stay on one condition: that his entire coaching staff also received new contracts. It took weeks to hash out the details but the two sides got it done.

Brind’Amour was a team guy when he was a player and he’s the same as a coach. That’s why his players work as hard as they do for him. It’s why the Hurricanes have a bright future as long as ownership ensures Brind’Amour has the players he needs to contend for the Stanley Cup.


  1. It takes established teams years to get to the post season and deeper in the playoffs. Yeah the 1st season they go to post season. There has to be new rules against that happening again. It isn’t fair I’ll go for any team beating Vegas even the habs

    • I agree, don’t think it’s right that they be able to start out as a legitimate threat, don’t think that happened for Ottawa and San Jose or Minnesota. They should have to build like every other team who is new on the block regardless of how good their management team is. Seattle is going to get the same benefits, that it isn’t right. Bettman, just sees these teams as cash cows for his coffers!!! Vegas is a side show with all that circus atmosphere. Hoping the Habs can prevail, real hockey fans from and Avalanche fan!!!!!!

  2. The Golden Knights owners also paid a ridiculously high entry fee to get the rights to own a team. I’m positive the entry fee got them better starting conditions than the other ‘new teams’ like Tampa, Ottawa, etc. You get what you pay for in life a lot of times and they chose to get a team that was lot further advanced than the fixer-uppers that took a decade of building to get to become playoff teams. Just my two cents.

  3. You spend half a billion dollars for a team you should get better players than Link Gaetz. What’s established teams? New rules against new teams being somewhat of a success? Did you read what you typed?

  4. Bettman rooting for Vegas as it adds extra excitement in Seattle the longer Vegas plays

  5. Nobody forced Pittsburgh to give up on Fleury too early.

    If the VGK don’t have him in nets the franchise doesn’t get their flying start.

    Nobody forced GM’s to foolishly give up draft picks to try end around the draft.

    LVK had excellent professional scouting but nobody thought they had a “powerhouse” after the draft.

    Gallant was the right coach at the right time before falling off ( people forget his quick diminishing returns)

    Their marketing was outstanding as well with an intimidating pre-game arena show that pumps up VGK.

    Instead of being jealous and envious, give them credit for succeeding.

    • You’re full of turkey trots and you know it! just take each team from their inception in the nhl count up how much Vegas paid to get it in and the other teams cost of operation till now &. it isn’t even close, if you get 31 teams contributing players you don’t to have to be an Einstein to pick a very good team, back in late sixties teams like la cal St. Louis got scraps. You shouldn’t be handed a silver platter your first year in the nhl. It’s not fair. Rules have to change.

      • Not pointing this to anyone but isn’t the phase “it’s nit fair” the battle cry of sour grapes or losers?

        If someone is offering you something of value, you’re dumb not to take it. I think Vegas played it right and hope Seattle does the same. 32 very good teams is better than a half dozen really good teams a bunch so so and a few AHL like teams.

      • Hey Rick. Why don’t you call all the owners who got that chunk of change and whine to them about fairness.

  6. It is silly that people keep saying that the “draft rules” helped Vegas succeed. They scouted some good players and other teams made some silly choices.

    Florida, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, Anaheim, Minnesota, & Columbus are basically PERSONALLY responsible for the success in Vegas.

    Pittsburgh & Buffalo moved draft picks so that Vegas would TAKE Fleury & Carrier.

    Columbus moved picks and wanted to unload a bad contract over to Vegas and in exchange got them to select Karlsson.

    Florida for some reason traded Reilly smith so Vegas would TAKE J Marsh… still, WOW.

    Anaheim GAVE them Shea Theodore to get ride of Stoner. Minny gave them Tuch so that Vegas would pick up Haula.

    Many teams wanted to unload problems or get Vegas to take players they didn’t see having a future. The professional scouts in Vegas, also did a great job seeing otherwise.

    Today’s Vegas roster, just four seasons in… only McNabb & Nosek come from the entry draft that wasn’t a player traded to them or that they were not asked to trade. The key players from their expansion … Tuch, March, Karlsson, Theodore, Fleury, Smith, & Carrier were all traded too them.

    Hague & Glass are the only guys they have drafted and developed … Whitecloud was a college free agent.

    The first year roster, certainly over performed. But credit to the Leadership & Coaching of the Golden Knights have now established a dominate NHL roster through trading & free agency to offset the core of their expansion draft. Which again, was mostly a gift from other teams.

    • JJB,

      Solid reminder to those with short and/or misguided memories.

  7. It’s one thing with the original draft protection protocols. My real issue is the fact they are exempt from this expansion draft. It’s ridiculous they don’t have to give up a player when teams like Buffalo and Detroit who are brutal and need to keep anything of worth while have to give up a player.

    • Troy, I don’t think there are many players exposed on BUF or DET that are going to significant losses that can’t be replaced by cheap UFA’s this year.

      Have to think that GM’s learned their lesson about adding pieces to incentivize Seattle from taking a different player. You will lose a player, a middle 6 winger, a #4 D-man or your backup tender. Accept it and move on as you have no leverage.

      For that reason I don’t think Seattle will have the same success as Vegas. Competitive, but not contender.

      • Hard to replicate vegas success but Seattle is in a better place than them for several reasons.

        1. Nhl gms collectively never learn.
        2. Covid flat cap
        3. Covid money loses
        4. Better draft position

      • Fair points Chrisms, and it is difficult for me to back up my position that #1 might be wrong. But for some reason I think they have learned. Been wrong about that a few times on here.

        But your points about the flat cap, and budget losses may have more impact than I am suggesting.

        They can outspend almost every team, and may in fact drive up high end UFA prices vs last year.

        Hamilton in your top pair, Danault and/or RNH as C’s, Grubauer or Rask in net. Fill in the rest with younger guys fast guys not getting offensive minutes currently and you have a deep team that can roll 4 lines and produce some offence.

  8. Wow, someone must have forced all those teams to expose all those players in the expansion draft and, imagine this ,each team lost one player! One! I tell ya
    It’s unbelievable! Stop the presses! Breaking news!
    And it’s going to happen again!
    Simply ridiculous – this has to stop.

  9. The complainers here need to go see the VGK actual draft and compare it to the roster this year, it was just a few short years ago.

    Spoiler alert, very few actually drafted players are left.

    The “problem” isn’t the rules or advantage that LVK supposedly had or that Seattle has the very same rules.

    The “problem” is LVK success which will only amplify if Seattle won’t match it,

    They are a well put together team made up of cast offs and draft picks that other GM’s paid them to take and trade for

    Remember,each GM thought they were fleecing and dumping players on LVK GM, nobody was being generous.

    LVK used their time on professional scouts and let themselves be “fleeced” into success with apparently better evaluations.

  10. Re Knights and expansion

    I look at it this way…. All they were guaranteed was one player from each team (30 players) and logic would tell us that they were guaranteed 30 players that 30 teams did NOT likely see as one if their core

    All other teams had a 23 man roster AND a fullfarm team

    Knights were only guaranteed a farm team of 7

    They (IMHO) artfully negotiated; effectively scouted; and built a successful roster

    They hired the right management and coaching staff

    They started out with a mis-match of “off-casts” , hungry and motivated to prove their former team wrong for not protecting them

    Yes they get the advantage of Krakken excemption

    Krakken will pick higher in first round and have the benefit of other teams struggling at/near cap ceiling …. Making those teams in a tougher negotiating spot

    Yes better poolto pick from than in previous expansions; but that roster was built through great scouting; keen negotiation ; and having a very good contract aching/management staff

    • I don’t know how my intended “coaching/management” became

      “contract aching/management”

  11. No taxes = better players willing to play there. Until there is something that allows other teams to spend up to the amount including taxes, this will be the case. If you get a contact for 6 million and get to keep it, or in another market you get half of it, where are you going ?

  12. I suppose there is some validity to the tax argument, although it is likely that at the level of an elite athlete,there are a variety of Quality of Life issues that push taxes to the margin. High taxes may be a proxy for QOL in some ways. We shouldn’t push our values onto players, tho; for every one who seeks out the low taxes, sunny climate, and friendly press of a Tampa Bay, there is a person who craves the bright lights and pressure of Broadway; there are people who love living in every city in the NHL and hockey players are people too. A team can do a lot with good ownership, stable management, and player respectful coaching and hockey operations.
    From time to time some cities may present special challenges, this is perhaps just another item for management to address. “Cost-of-living” adjustments are for wage slaves, where they make a difference in what kind of groceries you can shop for. Different issue for Hockey players. I think in most cases higher taxes are both a modest percentage, and a proxy for other quality of life issues…something you don’t hear about when a “high tax market” is making a cup run or signing a premier player.

  13. Yeah, I’ve cancelled my NHL subscription and have made a note in my reminders not to renew it in the fall. If it’s important for the league to fix games to improve revenue, then it’s important for me to spend my time and money elsewhere. I’ve loved the game for 40 years, but fixing games reduces it to wrestling on ice. It’s not for me.