Earlier this afternoon, TSN 1040 host Matthew Sekeres dropped some information on Alex Biega and the expansion draft:
The #Canucks are exploring the possibility of exposing Alex Biega as a forward, not a defenceman, for the expansion draft. It's why he's 1/2
— Matthew Sekeres (@mattsekeres) March 21, 2017
2/2 likely to play some RW, ahead of healthy options like Joe LaBate, tonight and perhaps in some of the remaining 11 games. #Canucks
— Matthew Sekeres (@mattsekeres) March 21, 2017
My first reaction, along with many others was ‘What?’
That is a reasonable response, as at first glance it makes zero sense. After further investigation, it still makes little sense at this moment, but there is some reasoning behind it, I think. But it appears to be misguided.
We’ll start with the expansion draft rules, which are located here. There are some regulations outlined on who Vegas may select:
Regulations Relating to Expansion Franchise
* The Las Vegas franchise must select one player from each presently existing club for a total of 30 players (not including additional players who may be acquired as the result of violations of the Expansion Draft rules).
* The Las Vegas franchise must select the following number of players at each position: 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders.
There is no definition on the maximum of each position that Vegas must select, just that they must take 14 forwards, 9 defencemen and 3 goalies. So, in theory they could just take 14 forwards, 13 D and 3 G and be on their way.
Furthermore, there is no definition about what a forward or defencemen is. We say that Alex Biega is a defencemen because he has played D for his entire career. But play him at forward, wouldn’t he technically be a forward?
A goalkeeper is outlined in the NHL rule-book, but not positional skaters.
Not that I necessarily agree with that, but that is a defensible argument and likely what the Canucks will use to say that Biega is a forward. As he is playing over healthy forwards.
But Vegas won’t have issue reaching either minimum.
Player Exposure Requirements
* All Clubs must meet the following minimum requirements regarding players exposed for selection in the Expansion Draft:
i) One defenseman who is a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.
ii) Two forwards who are a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.
This has been discussed ad nauseam over the last few months. But does relate here because, maybe the Canucks are trying to meet the exposure requirements on forward. However, at this moment, the Canucks have Derek Dorsett who meets the requirements. While forward Joseph Cramarossa, Brendan Gaunce, Michael Chaput, Jack Skille, and Jayson Megna would meet the requirements once signed to a new contract.
This is another chance to re-iterate, having Biega meet the requirements does not mean that someone like Gaunce will be ‘protected’. Gaunce will still be exposed, and can be chosen by the Golden Knights. It just means there is another forward available. If that is what Biega is deemed as.
The argument can be made that by making this change, it allows the Canucks to trade Biega to another team who needs to meet the forward exposure requirements. At quick glance of the exposure lists on capfriendly.com – all other teams just need to re-sign one or two of their pending RFA to meet the requirements, and be on their way.
Toronto was a team who possibly needed a forward to meet the requirements, so they acquired Eric Fehr.
It’s a far-fetched plan, as the team who needed to meet the requirements could just make a deal with Vegas to not take a certain player. Not take on Biega.
The logical argument is that the Canucks want to have Biega deemed a forward, so that they can convince Vegas to take him. Offer a late pick, take Biega, protect Gaunce and move on.
But there is no reason to make Biega a forward to make this happen. If you choose to offer a pick to make sure Vegas doesn’t take Gaunce and takes Biega instead, it doesn’t matter of the position. You could just offer that late round pick to Vegas and have them select Biega.
The Golden Knights could just take 14 forwards from other teams, then take 13 defencemen (including Biega) and 3 goalies.
Furthermore, it requires the NHL to allow a change to a player’s position, although undefined within the rulebook, is still pushing the boundaries on what would be allowed. It’s highly likely that if the Canucks were to propose this, that the NHL would shut it down as it pushing the ‘convention of the game’. It’s unwritten, but it’s common and assumed knowledge.
If, and that’s a huge if, the NHL did let it happen – it’s impossible that they would then allow the Canucks to trade Biega, and the acquiring team use him as a forward.
It is thinking outside of the box a bit, but after looking into further, it’s clear that there doesn’t appear to be a logical or reasonable way that this ends with the Canucks obtaining any sort of benefit.
GMJB told me #canucks are not trying to make Biega a F for purpose of the expansion draft.
— Dan Murphy (@sportsnetmurph) March 21, 2017
Since this post was completed, Dan Murphy from Sportsnet debunked this suggestion after speaking with GM Jim Benning.
Suddenly the confusion outlined above, makes more sense.