As Expansion Draft looms, Award finalists are going with the flow
LAS VEGAS — For a league that celebrates the best that the game has to offer in a season during the annual NHL Awards, one would think that the day should be dedicated to the top stars.
For a league that is about to welcome the newest additions to its 31st team in the Expansion Draft, one would think that they deserve a day of their own.
Instead, the league decided to combine the two events into one grand night at the state of the art T-Mobile Arena – the home of the Golden Knights – in front of a nationally televised audience.
For an award show that has its share of critics among the hockey media, the announcement of the Golden Knights roster for their inaugural season is a welcome distraction. Instead of critiquing the c-list celebrities that the NHL rolls out, they can now shift most of their attention to analyzing the first look at the Vegas hockey club.
The players who are up for the awards, however, still have the uncertainty looming over them on which teammate they’ll wind up losing. It’s a problem that the 30 other teams in the NHL are dealing with in the hours leading up to Wednesday’s grand finale of the 2016-17 season and first glance into 2017-18- which also included the debut of Adidas’ uniforms they’ll be rolling out in their first season as a sponsor.
As players like Patrice Bergeron, Carey Price, Erik Karlsson, Connor McDavid and countless others hope to have their name called for one of the prestigious awards such as the Selke, Vezina, Norris and Hart, they know their fate of returning to their club next season is essentially guaranteed barring any moves out of left field by their respective GMs. By the end of the night, they may have a bittersweet feeling once they know which teammate they’ll be losing to Vegas.
It may cause a distraction to some, but for the athletes that will be in attendance, they’re just going with the flow.
“I wish we wouldn’t lose anyone,” Bergeron said during Tuesday’s media availability at the Encore Casino. “It’s going to be tough. There’s some really good players [exposed] and not just from us, but every team is in the same situation. We’ll see what happens. It’s definitely a different and unique situation right now.”
“It’s obviously not an ideal situation for anyone I think. But it is what it is,” added Karlsson, who guided the Sens to the Eastern Conference Finals with an injured foot. “It’s what we signed up for, and it’s something that we’ve known for a long time. For the team that we have, we’re going to lose a player that we really don’t want to.”
Some teams, like the Bruins, weren’t hit too hard with the Expansion Draft. The two likely candidates heading to Vegas are Adam McQuaid and Colin Miller.
Other teams, like the Sens, could lose a significant player like Bobby Ryan or Marc Methot after taking the now two-time Stanley Cup champion Penguins to the brink in their seven-game series.
— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) June 21, 2017
The rosters have been finalized. Now the world awaits the first look at the Vegas Golden Knights.