As we approach this years trade deadline, Golden Knights General Manager McPhee will have some interesting and yet tough decisions of who his targets are and which player he’ll trade for.

McPhee will have his counterparts in a very uncomfortable spot especially for General Managers whose clubs are pushing towards the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Nevertheless Pierre LeBrun, Craig Custance, Joe McDonald, and Scott Burnside at ESPN discussed the influences at this years deadline and the effects it would have with the expansion draft.

LeBrun immediately said this won’t have an adverse affect on those 4 or 5 elite clubs gunning for hockey’s ultimate prize. He also indicated that those clubs would most likely sit tight and wait until the offseason to make any significant moves prior to the expansion draft.

However, LeBrun provided a prime example of a hypothetical scenario surrounding the Columbus Black Jackets.  This is what he had to say.

“Let’s just pretend they trade for Matt Duchene (again, this is purely to make a point, folks) in exchange for Prospect X, Player X and Draft Pick X. Then, obviously, they would want to protect Duchene as one of their seven forwards for the expansion draft. That means a guy such as William Karlsson or Josh Anderson gets exposed. So that means the cost of the Duchene trade becomes what was traded for him, plus Anderson or Karlsson (who would go to Vegas).” Pierre LeBrun ESPN

Given that the Blue Jackets are a very young team this will play a factor in their decision making. The practical approach for them however would come from the rental category. That option would be a player who will become a pending unrestricted free agent.

Custance agreed with LeBrun in that the likelihood of teams making any significant moves especially draft shuffling and final expansion preparedness would happen offseason.

He used the Minnesota Wild who is currently the NHL 2nd best team with 82 points as his case in point.

“If you’re, say, the Minnesota Wild and you’re worried about losing a defenseman in the expansion draft, I’m not sure you’re making a trade now and weakening the team in any way just to protect yourself in June.” Craig Custance ESPN

I’m inclined to concur with Custance’s assessment because the Wild have been a surprise to everyone around the league particularly in their division. A team like Minnesota is more likely to add another piece maybe two to bolster their lineup before or near the deadline.

McDonald brought up an interesting point surrounding the goaltender position for teams that are currently searching for a true No. 1 goalie that could help a club looking to secure a playoff berth or for a contending team with deep playoff run aspirations.

“The Calgary Flames are interested in the Tampa Bay Lightning‘s Ben Bishop and the Pittsburgh PenguinsMarc-Andre Fleury, who are both available. Bishop has a no-movement clause in his contract, but could be willing to waive it. Fleury’s contract also protects him from the expansion draft, but he does have a list of teams he would consider going to. True Cup contenders need a solid goalie tandem, so keep an eye on Bishop and Fleury to see if they are moved.” Joe McDonald

Burnside highlighted the complications that this years expansion draft could have on the lifestyle of General Managers. Especially with the salary cap in place comes parity in the league.  He had this say about the subject matter.

“As of Thursday morning, teams that are truly cooked number just three (Colorado Avalanche, Arizona Coyotes and Detroit Red Wings) with the Carolina Hurricanes and Dallas Stars edging toward full sell mode as well.” Scott Burnside ESPN

What Burnside is saying is that Detroit, Arizona, and Colorado are going to be sellers at the deadline. For the Red Wings the time to rebuild towards the future is now.

McPhee and the Golden Knights franchise have given their 30 friends something to worry about as we approach this years trade deadline.

Ryan Bayer

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