I will undoubtedly write an article if Francis pulls off a deal on Saturday, but if not, I figure this can serve as “Expansion Draft Deadline Central” for anyone who wants to bandy around whatever happens for the rest of the NHL.
For those checking in and catching up, stop by “Carolina Hurricanes 2017-18 Roster Building Central” where you can find a chronological list of our series of articles building the 2017-18 roster and including a few articles specifically on the expansion draft.
As many know, the roster freeze deadline for the expansion draft is 3pm Eastern Time on Saturday afternoon. That has the potential to make for an interesting Saturday as teams with too many good players to protect consider options to strike a deal with Las Vegas or possibly with another team to collect a return for a player who might otherwise be lost for nothing.
On the one hand, one can build a pretty impressive list of 8-10 players who might be available leading up to the 3pm deadline. That suggests Saturday afternoon fireworks on par with the NHL trade deadline day. On the other hand, deals made directly with Las Vegas are not being announced, so it is possible that the vast majority of teams with players who might be lost have or will broker a deal with Las Vegas. If that happens, Saturday could be much ado about pretty much nothing. The fact that a few players like Kevin Bieksa and Scott Hartnell seem to have escaped buy outs to gain another protection spot could suggest that Las Vegas’ asking price is reasonable and that teams will not be forced to open Saturday afternoon bidding wars to unload assets.
But one can hope for at least a few deals. And Canes fans can hope that just one of these deals yields a good player for a discount for the Hurricanes.
Playing Ron Francis
Best bet is that Ron Francis shops this landscape primarily looking for value. He has an overstock on assets that do not need to be protected in the expansion draft, the potential to add another player and not have to expose another high-end player to do so and some roster needs for 2017-18.
I continue to think that if the opportunity to buy low on a top 4 defenseman before the expansion emerges that Francis should consider it simply to add an asset that could help yield a forward after the draft. That opportunity may not present itself and would carry some risk even if it did, but I like the idea of converting futures which Francis wants to spend into a top 4 defenseman which will be in high demand after the expansion draft passes. I wrote this up in more detail in the crazy version of my expansion draft lead up.
But unless Francis uncharacteristically turns wheeler/dealer and has a chance to buy at a discount, I think a deal on Saturday is possible but not highly likely. A few of the higher-end forwards that he might pursue could be held back until next week when a few more bidders can enter the fray. Remember that right now, there are some teams that cannot gain and protect another player which has the potential to decrease the bidding war and return.
Wild guesses for the rest of the league
I do not expect a barn burner on Saturday. The fact that a few teams with significant protection issues did not buy players out seemingly suggests that they did deals with Las Vegas. And if a few teams did, that suggests that Las Vegas terms and strategy are reasonable. If that proves true, then we might not (officially anyway) learn of the deals that happened until later in the expansion draft process.
That said, there are a few teams who seem likely to do something with Minnesota, Winnipeg and Ottawa topping the list.
At a minimum, there is hockey excitement in mid-June which at a minimum is worth checking in on Twitter during the day.