A topic that has been discussed more as of late with the owners meeting is the possible expansion. A huge road block being discussed is whether players with NTC's and NMC's will be made available for expansion teams. Another will likely be the salary cap as the last expansion was before it was implemented. As a whole, I think the expansion could benefit all parties involved. The owners get expansion fees (although sharing future revenue), the NHLPA gets more jobs available and the fans get more teams to watch and cheer for. I'm also hoping that the league will be able to fix the conference imbalance with the East having two more teams.
The NHL most definitely wants Las Vegas to succeed above all else, being the 1st professional sports team to endeavor there. Following the previous expansion protocol (each team protects 14 players i believe) would leave any and all expansion teams icing four 3rd lines, three bottom pairings and a backup goalie. Giving teams high draft picks is one approach but that commits them to a lengthy rebuild, one i could see Quebec surviving but I think the novelty of hockey in Vegas would wear out before the team becomes competitive.
An approach I thought could make them relatively competitive and entertaining to say the least, would be to have different degrees of picks. Each team would be allowed to protect 3 players for the 1st "Platinum" pick of each expansion team. Then the list would grow to a 5 player protected list for 3 "Gold" picks and then 5 "Silver" picks, etc.
An expansion in this form would allow the expansion teams to be able to get a 1st line player or a potential top pairing defenseman. Their later picks would allow them to fill out respectable 2nd-4th lines as well. Another issue with the previous expansion format is it was before the salary cap. Using that formula would most likely have expansion teams under the cap without being stuck with all the bad contracts. This format would easily allow these teams to at least reach the cap floor.
Something else that could be fun for the fans would be allowing the expansion teams to trade their picks. Just for example: Pit has Crosby, Malkin and Kessel protected while Hawks have Kane, Toews and Keith. Vegas could trade a pick to Pit for Kessel and Pit could use that pick to get Seabrook. There are hundreds of potential trades and player movement which makes it exciting for all us fans that follow this stuff religiously (if you're actually reading this, chances are you're that type of fan).
There would also have to be a way for each expansion team to get prospects and an AHL team. A similar draft format could be used, or teams could protect 10 prospects, or expansion teams could be allowed an extra pick per round. There's lots of ways this can be arranged, one could be (if only 2 expansion teams) could be for 1 team to get the 1st overall and the other the 2nd but have it flipped for the expansion draft format.
This was all something i randomly thought up. Let me know what you guys think? How would you have the expansion draft be played out? What players would you protect or who would you target from unprotected teams?
Thanks for reading