What the media is saying about Las Vegas and Wednesday’s NHL expansion draft plans

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman remained tightlipped on the probability of expansion at this week’s general manager meetings.

But according to TSN’s Darren Dreger, the general managers were told that they’d receive a decision on expansion before the 2016 draft, which will take place June 24-25.

So, if Las Vegas — and/or Quebec City — is granted a team, the 2016 NHL Awards, held in Las Vegas, could be the perfect stage, according to some reporters who covered this week’s meetings.

What the North America media is writing about NHL expansion and Wednesday’s rollout of an expansion draft plan:

TSN’S Gary Lawless

While his coworker Dreger tweeted that most general managers think there will be one expansion team and it will be in Las Vegas, TSN Senior Correspondent Gary Lawless argued that Quebec City would be a better option.

“Vegas has a much better chance of surviving if the team can win and win fast,” Lawless wrote. “If it turns out to be the next Atlanta and scuffles for a decade, it’s craps in the desert.”

His argument hinges upon the fact that Quebec City is “not a gamble as a market,” because of its hockey roots.

“It may not ever soar, but it also isn’t going to sink. It’s a hockey market,” Lawless wrote. “The sport is indigenous to the area. It’s a natural fit.”

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman

NHL general managers were given a framework to work with on Wednesday at the meetings.

Generally speaking, if there is a draft, teams will be able to protect three defensemen, seven forwards and a goalie or eight skaters and a goaltender.

If there’s one expansion team, teams can only lose one player. If there’s two, they couldn’t lose more than two.

But as Friedman noted, the NHL hasn’t addressed no-move clauses.

“The league has hinted Article 11.8, Section (c) of the CBA gives it reason to believe an NMC does not protect anyone from being selected by a potential Las Vegas or Quebec City franchise,” Friedman wrote. “That paragraph reads, “A no-move clause may prevent the involuntary relocation of a Player, whether by Trade, Loan or Waiver claim.” There’s nothing about expansion.

The Globe and Mail’s James Mirtle

Mirtle believes that the NHL awards in Las Vegas are a “natural platform to make things official.”

And once expansion is official — if it happens — the NHL is committed to making sure any team in Las Vegas or Quebec City is much more competitive early on than past expansion teams.

“A team in Vegas is going to be put on a huge stage initially – with national media attention in the United States – and the last thing the league wants is for it to be a spectacular failure on the ice or in the stands,” Mirtle wrote.

Mirtle wrote that the NHL is ensuring that the expansion draft will be deeper than it’s been in the past by forcing teams to “expose a decent player or two.”

“The NHL is taking a risk in order to beat the NBA (and every other league) into the city. They’re going to charge Bill Foley and company $500-million (U.S.) for the privilege of having a team,” Mirtle wrote. “They want them to get something for that money. They want them to succeed.”

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun

If expansion happens, expect a lot of trades before the draft.

LeBrun presents the Penguins’ situation. If no-move clauses are not honored, Pittsburgh would have to choose between protecting either their veteran goalie or their goalie of the future.

As one general manager told him, “I would think the Penguins would try to trade either goalie and get an asset back before the expansion draft.”

LeBrun expects lots of trades in the year before the draft as teams try to “soften the blow of losing a good player in the expansion draft.”

Yahoo’s Greg Wyshynski

If the draft happened today, what would the Black Knights’ roster look like?

Wyshynski took a look.

The team might poach goalies Frederik Andersen from Anaheim, Jimmy Howard from Detroit and Andrei Vasilevskiy from Tampa Bay.

Offensively, they’d likely look more than a little thin. None of the forwards Wyshynski listed crack the top 100 scorers this season and only one — Thomas Vanek (Minnesota) is in the top 150.

Other forwards might include Joffrey Lupul, Travis Zajac, Vinny Lecavalier and Chris Kunitz.

On defense, the Black Knights might select guys like Toby Enstrom, Paul Martin and Cody Franson.

Betsy Helfand can be reached at bhelfand@reviewjournal.com. Follow on Twitter: @BetsyHelfand

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