Ever since the NHL announced that the Vegas Golden Knights would be the 31st NHL team, every blog, team site, and league site has been running mock expansion drafts to give you an idea of what a roster for the first season in Vegas might look like.
They’re kind of fun to look at, and it’s fun to fantasize about what players could be suiting in up Sin City…but if you take even half a step back, you realize it’s the most pointless thing in the world, and nothing more than an exercise in trying to get pageviews.
Regular mock drafts for the NHL, NBA, NFL and MLB are bad enough, but at least those mocks give you some idea of where certain players might get taken.
The issue of course is that the respective leagues aren’t stagnant, and the rosters don’t stay the same like the did on NHL 97 where you could literally make any trade you wanted.
But an expansion mock draft is far worse.
There is no, “this player might go in this spot,” or things of that nature. It is literally a free selection for Vegas to make, with no competition, allowing them to take one player from each team.
But the problem, even more so than just a regular mock draft where teams sometimes trade picks but more often keep them because they are valuable assets, is that these teams don’t want to lose an actual player, not just a spot to take one.
Every mock draft featured the current NHL rosters once they were semi-locked following the trade deadline, which is insanely unrealistic because the second the season ended, teams have been figuring out ways to trade players they can’t protect for other assets, basically so they don’t lose a valuable player for nothing, and to try to screw over Vegas as much as possible.
Just in the past two days, the Tampa Bay Lightning traded Jonathan Drouin on Thursday for a prospect and a pick. And it also allows them to now protect another forward because Drouin is gone, and the prospect they got doesn’t need to be protected. Just like that, a potentially very good piece for Vegas is off the table.
Drouin had to be protected in expansion or lost. Sergachev does not. Lightning were facing losing a good player for nothing; now they don’t.
— James Mirtle (@mirtle) June 15, 2017
And on Wednesday night the Capitals made a trade for a player you’ve never heard of…just so they can expose him in the expansion draft. It is safe to say nobody had these two deals going down in their expansion mock draft.
Again, all of the mock expansion drafts that were done up to this point did so basically with the rosters locked, and assuming that the other 30 teams in the NHL would basically leave players on their active roster up for grabs.
There is no way that was ever going to happen.
Now, there will be some good players available for the Knights once rosters lock this weekend, because salaries or just not getting enough of a return will happen to some GMs. Maybe once the rosters lock, then the mock expansion drafts might look at little more realistic.
Because those 30 other GMs all want to make sure that Vegas is as bad as possible, for as long as possible so they can get easy wins that might mean the difference between the playoffs and sitting home.
But until then, there are a ton of trades to be made, and you can bet that by the time Vegas does actually get to pick players, the talent available to them will be a heck of a lot thinner than it was during all those previous mocks.