What Impact Will Vegas Expansion Have on Your Cap League?

by Alexander MacLean on December 22, 2016
  • Capped
  • What Impact Will Vegas Expansion Have on Your Cap League?

This week's Capped discusses the economic effects of the Las Vegas expansion. 


The Vegas Golden Knights expansion news story is hanging over this season, and the cloud is only going to get darker until the storm finally breaks on June 21st, 2017 with the expansion draft. Until then, there will be multitudes of mock drafts, proposed player movement around the league, and pundits trying to predict how it will all play out in the long run. It is too early to look at some of these things, but the concrete numbers can still be analyzed. So what kinds of numbers around the league are going to change with the expansion, and what trickle-down effect will that have on the fantasy GMs in the Salary Cap world?


The Extra Money


There is currently a maximum of $2,190 Million in cap space around the league. Now an extra $73 Million is only a small addition on top of it, but it is substantial in some ways. Vegas is unlikely to spend all the way up to the cap ceiling, so let’s peg them at $60 Million, slightly above the current $54 Million floor. Fantasy owners will then have $60 Million more to fit into their league. Assuming that their fantasy leagues are currently set-up with a proper balance of a salary cap to fit players in at the moment, then not raising the league’s salary cap ceiling while still adding in the extra $60 Million in available player salaries will mean that a lot more money is left sitting on the free agent market. There are three points to be taken from this:


  1. The fact that Vegas is stealing one contract from every team will allow some teams to spend a little more on contracts this summer than they otherwise may have been able to.
  2. Vegas has said they are going to use their cap-space wisely, and will likely be using a large portion of it in free-agency. As such, we could see them overpay for one or two free-agents that they are really targeting, such as Ben Bishop, Alexander Radulov or even Kevin Shattenkirk. Be wary of how much these players may get paid this summer.
  3. If Vegas is smart, they will cook up enough side deals to add a good amount of draft picks to their stockpile for both this year and next. This would insulate them enough if they were to need to part with their own picks due to a potential offer-sheet. There are plenty of RFAs with expiring contracts this summer, such as Ryan Johansen, Evgeni Kuznetsov, Alex Galchenyuk, Tyler Toffoli, etc. We could see them get paid a little more as well, either by Vegas, or by their own team locking them up before Vegas has that option.


What we can gather from all of this is that Salary Cap space is going to be at a premium for fantasy GMs this coming season. There are a few months to start preparing, so hopefully we can all be mindful, and create a little space for ourselves to get ready for the expansion.



The Extra Goalie (and Other Skaters)


Does the waiver wire in your league always seem a little shallow? If so, then you’re in luck, it’s about to get a little more saturated. There’s about to be one extra starting goalie in your league! One extra goalie may not seem like much, but there are so many league set-ups in which it seems like half of the teams are always trying to acquire another starting goalie. Add in four more defencemen getting 20+ minutes of ice-time a night, another three lines worth of potentially fantasy relevant forwards, and a full new power play unit worth of players, and you’ll have 20 more active players to choose from on a nightly basis.


Now the more obvious players to jump on will be the ones viewed to be the top options for Vegas. However, the better option may be to look at teams who are losing a player or two to free agency, in addition to losing someone from their fantasy relevant group, and trying to guess who will fill the void. That will actually be the best bet for finding a large jump in production, since Vegas will certainly be able to find six first/second line level players through the draft and free-agency to fill their spots. It is the other 30 teams that may be forced to accelerate some growth from within. That is where the real value may lie.



The Easier Opponent


That’s how it would work in theory anyways. A team full of second/third line forwards, fourth defencemen and a couple of decent goalies is not going to be a Stanley Cup contender right away. Maybe it’s only an extra 20/30 goals against on the season more than the average team, but there will be a measurable matchup difference. It will make for one of the easier matchups against which to ensure all your skaters are starting, and to try and stream the goalie that will have games against them. It is possible though that we also see a lot of backups get the starts against Vegas, resting the starters for the more meaningful matchups (likely against teams such as Anaheim and San Jose on the Pacific road trips). So in reality, the games with Vegas in them could be higher scoring than the average game.


Specifically the Pacific division stands to benefit from the expansion, as teams in the same division have to play each-other a minimum of five times in a season. Having a bonus five games against a weaker opponent could lead to slightly improved seasons from bubble teams like Calgary and Los Angeles. Playoff races are tight as it is, and a couple extra points could really swing a race for the seventh and eighth seeds. When making a decision between which player(s) to pick up for a short run, the Vegas factor could be enough to tip the scales. However, this isn’t a factor that is advisable to be used when drafting or trading.




The Games


This may be more relevant for those in Roto leagues, but it should be relevant in all pools nonetheless. For the first time in the new Millennium, there will not be 1230 games played in the NHL season. This coming year, there will be a total of 1312 games played during the regular season. This means that the schedule will either be longer, or denser. It also means that there will be more goals, more hits, and more goalie wins to go around. This could make managing around the schedule something even more substantial moving forward. Knowing exactly how the added stats will impact your league setup will be a key to getting a slight edge entering next season.




With seven months to go until the expansion draft, there are so many more topics still to touch upon. Comments are very welcome to discuss whatever may be on your mind regarding the Vegas expansion team.


As always, thanks for reading!