When the NHL announced the expansion into Las Vegas there was quiet joy from NHL fans across North America, but it wasn’t because fans were looking forward to an NHL team in Las Vegas, but rather due to the belief that this new team would be an easy dumping ground for the terrible contracts on many NHL teams. When the league clarified that Las Vegas would need to ice a team that reaches 60% of the previous years’ salary cap it further cemented this notion. Fans were thinking “Awesome, Vegas needs to meet this salary floor so they’ll FOR SURE take this terrible contract off our team”. Needless to say, this falls into the category of wishful thinking.
For starters let’s take that 60% cap number. The upper cap in 2016-17 is $73 million so using our advanced computing system we can determine that Vegas will need to get to a salary floor of $43.8 million. This is where Kings fans are screaming “TAKE DUSTIN BROWN!”, and on the surface it makes sense. Brown is due to make $5.875 million so his contract will go a long way to meet the cap floor for Las Vegas. However, when you take a closer look you realize the Las Vegas team won’t need to take that (or any other) terrible contract. One thing fans are forgetting is that the cap is going to be spread out among 23 players on the NHL roster. $43.8 million divided by 23 comes to an average of $1.9 million which is hardly in the territory of some of the terrible contracts fans are so eager to get rid of. Most third-liners (and some fourth-liners) make that much.
Secondly, contrary to what NHL fans believe, GMs are not morons. Whoever Las Vegas ends up hiring as their GM will not be some idiot who fell off the turnip truck. When Kings GM Dean Lombardi tells Dustin Brown that his contract is untradeable it means that 29 other GMs think the contract is terrible, which makes it pretty safe to assume that the newest NHL GM will also consider that contract unappealing. Cap floor or not, there is no reason for Las Vegas to take on a contract with a high salary cap hit AND a lengthy term attached to it. No NHL GM who wants to keep his job will ever accept a terrible contract.
Finally, there are many other ways for Las Vegas to fill out its roster and meet the salary cap floor. Instead of getting “terrible” contracts, they can easily settle for just “bad” contracts. Think Bryan Bickell this year (1 year/$4 million). Bickell is still an effective player but not at $4 million. However, a team like Vegas that needs to meet the salary cap floor can overlook the fact that Bickell is overpaid by a couple million dollars because the term is so short. Ultimately this is the type of contract Las Vegas will be looking at when it comes to reaching the cap floor. They can afford to take on a couple bad contracts, just not any terrible ones.
So apologies to Kings fans, but you aren’t getting rid of Dustin Brown. Sorry Blue Jackets fans, you’re still stuck with David Clarkson. Hugs to Red Wings fans, you’re still going to be paying Jonathan Ericsson his terrible contract. Condolences to Flyers fans, you still owe Andrew MacDonald a ton of money. Here’s a tissue for Panthers fans as they weep over the Dave Bolland contract. All this goes the same for any fan that sees a terrible contract haunting your favorite teams’ General Fanager page and hoping against hope that they just need to wait until the Vegas expansion team makes its picks to free them from the shackles of a terrible deal. It’s not happening. Sorry for the harsh truth but it’s better to accept the reality now than be lulled into a false sense of hope for something that isn’t coming.
So what do you think, do you still have hope for your team to rid its worst contract to Las Vegas? Let us know in the comments below.