If the Vegas Golden Knights want to take Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk in this summer's expansion draft, they're going to have to do the Hawks a significant favor.
The Blackhawks, who were eliminated in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs this season, will have some decisions to make as to which players they will protect and which players they will expose in the draft, which will be used to fill out the roster for the expansion Vegas Golden Knights.
According to a new report from TSN, the Blackhawks are preparing for the possibility of the Golden Knights taking defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, and they’re ready to strike a deal to make sure that if it does happen, they will be able to give themselves some salary cap relief as well:
According to CapFriendly, the Blackhawks are nearly $5 million over the NHL salary cap for next season with 22 projected contracts on the books.
Extensions for Artemi Panarin and Richard Panik both kick in for next season, adding nearly $4 million extra to the cap, and the bonuses that Panarin earned in the 2016-17 season for finishing among the NHL’ stop scorers will also conspire to rob cap space from the Blackhawks next season.
TSN’s report indicates that the Blackhawks would insist on Vegas making a separate deal to acquire Marcus Kruger in a trade if they want to pick van Riemsdyk in the expansion draft.
At this point, the Blackhawks have the option on whether or not to protect the defensemen in the draft, as they have other players under contract that they could expose in van Riemsdyk’s place.
If the Blackhawks were able to deal Kruger, they would shave just over $3 million from their salary cap for next season, giving themselves a bit of wiggle room to deal with as they try to make sure that they fit under the cap ceiling for the coming year.
According to the rules that will govern the draft, teams must expose at least two forwards and one defenseman that played 40 or more games last season, or 70 combined games over the last two seasons. Those players must also be under contract for the 2017-18 season in order to be exposed.
Players with no-movement clauses in their contracts are automatically protected, as are players that have been in the NHL for two or fewer seasons. The Blackhawks have a staggering eight players that they have to protect because of trade clauses, meaning that they only have a select number of spots that they can protect in the draft.
If they opt to protect van Riemsdyk, then forwards like Kruger, Richard Panik, and Ryan Hartman would all be eligible to be selected in the draft. If they don’t protect van Riemsdyk, then they could protect up to three more forwards, as they can choose to either protect eight total forwards and defensemen (along with a goaltender) or seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goaltender.
The expansion draft is slated to take place on June 21 and will be hosted in Las Vegas, where the Golden Knights will open their inaugural season later this year.