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Las Vegas Expansion

So the expansion draft is 10 months away for the Las Vegas Spearmint Rhinos, so how do they handle it? How do they allocate scouting resources: Let’s break it down.

The team has to grab 1 player from every team and the minimum are:
3 Goalies
9 Defensemen
14 Forwards

With a minimum payroll of $43.8mm. The league is apparently allowing a window the Las Vegas can negotiate deals with other teams about any and all under the sun.

So how do you play it?

First off, you have a plethora of players to choose from, both in quantity and quality. In theory, you can get close to the minimum payroll and load up with young players and at the same time you can load up on big contracts and have a playoff caliber team in the short term, but it is necessary to balance both short term and long term goals going forward.

An optimal theory would be to have a balance of 4-5 contracts that expire each year over the next 4 years, with fewer in year 1 and more at year 3 & 4. The expansion draft selections would be based on the above along with maximizing value over the next 10 years, so deferring picks is needed.

Other teams will want to unload poorly performing contracts while trying to protect young players who still haven’t fulfilled their upside. Most of those players are not top 6 F or top 4 D and any talent/exposure mismatches will largely be dealt with.

A cursory talent evaluation of the players exposed would suggest a surplus of players that are replacement level to + at both G & D paid close to the minimum and a bifurcation of forwards: Most are bottom 6 on the cheap, yet enough top 6 types that are productive, yet underperforming their contract. Luckily most of them are on contracts that will expire between 1-3 years after the team’s 1st season.

In my view of roster construction, I want to grab the minimal number of contracts that get me to  $43.8mm, while my final budget is mid $50mm that sheds $10mm contracts annually over the following 3-4 years. Beyond that I’m trying to accumulate multiple draft picks going forward over the next 3 to 5 years. You do your league wide roster evaluation as part of your due diligence, then I would suggest the following:

Announce to the other teams my payroll/draft plans at some point, then invite them to a sealed bid auction where the bids would be opened after protection lists would be submitted.  The best offers(those unloading bad contracts coupled with x amount of draft picks that can be claimed over the next 5 years) get taken early, while the others just likely lose the best player available.

This way I force the other teams to spend their resources working out their game theory(while in a prisoner’s dilemma) of making sure their worst assets get unloaded by giving up other picks with none of it binding to my team. No haggling, just their best offer(s). The other teams can conspire all they want, but it’s self defeating. Even if only a third of the league really needs to unload a turkey, it’s still enough to keep them honest and drive up prices for secondary contracts(this is where I’d love game theory input.)

The only time I contact other teams is in the window after protected lists are announced, then I start swinging surplus players(likely D & G) around for more picks and (maybe) prospects. Just accumulating RD staggered in the pipeline should do wonders over the years.

Year 1 I want top end picks who can play in year 2-4, subsequently I want best player available early followed by elite level players who slip because of anything but undersized and lack of physicality.  Tough to get em big enough in the former, can’t teach the latter.

Year 2-5 will have tons of cap space, but signing top end talent not a given, not sure blocking the way of picks advisable as draft pool looks better going forward from 2019. Would rather do short term over 30 deals for guys with the right work ethic, bring them into the community.

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