Three reasons the NHL is wrong to hide protected-player lists for expansion draft
It's unclear whether a list of eligible draftees will be made public, but there's no reason it shouldn't be
Come June 21st, the NHL expansion draft is going to go down, and the Vegas Golden Knights are going to find themselves with a team comprised largely of players from other franchises.
Sounds normal, right? Except for the fact that, at least according to a March 8 ESPN report, fans won’t necessarily know which players from which teams are eligible to be drafted by Vegas.
Each of the NHL’s 30 teams outside of Vegas are able to protect between seven and 11 of their own players from being stolen by the Golden Knights during the expansion draft. But word out of the league’s recent general manager meetings is that GMs don’t intend to have their lists of protected stars made public.
That stance is not final. But it is unsurprising for a number of reasons, some more honorable than others. And if June rolls around and, as reports suggest, that stance comes to fruition, the NHL will surely have squandered an opportunity to erase its recent slip-ups with hockey fans, not to mention make the most of a once-in-a-blue-moon spectacle.
Here are three reasons the NHL would be wrong to hide protected-player lists in advance of the draft:
1. The draft should be an engaging event for fans, not one clouded in secrecy
If you’re going to hold an expansion draft, and if you’re considering televising the results of that draft, then why in the world would you not open up the possibilities of what’s going to happen to your fans?
Maybe some people would be fine taking a blind stab at which key players are going to be changing teams. The NHL GMs sure would, and understandably so, considering they are the ones who have to risk losing assets to the Golden Knights.
But exposing protected-player lists isn’t going to stop Vegas from stealing talent as much as it’s going to shed light on personnel decisions around the league. More importantly, for a league forever trying to drum up interest from a wider fan base, why is hiding the details of a rare event even in consideration? Invite the masses to tune in by giving them a clue about what could actually happen behind closed doors.
2. The NHL is already on shaky terms when it comes to transparency
Protected-players lists might be kept secret, but it’s no secret the NHL has some work to do as far as serving its fans.
Maybe casual followers don’t care too much about salary-cap updates and conditional draft-pick details, but the league has long operated in denial of pleas for that type of transparency. Denying the public a chance to know which players might be on the move during the expansion draft certainly wouldn’t help things.
Seriously, if you’re a passionate NHL fan, especially one who invests money into the league and its oft-criticized GMs, it seems reasonable to expect you’d at least be encouraged to get involved in the expansion process. Even if involvement is as simple as being made aware of what’s going on.
3. The lead-up to the draft needs to be repaired with entertainment
Somewhere, someone needs to realize that June’s expansion draft could be a killer public-relations boost for the league.
Hockey is about more than good PR. And, yes, the GMs in charge of protecting players deserve a say since they’re the ones fueling the moves to come. But do they deserve all the say? Their decisions will be evaluated regardless of whether non-protected players are revealed before they’re actually on the way out, so the league should take advantage of this chance to build an audience and, you know, make this thing entertaining.
That starts with formulating a solid plan, which it appears they do not yet have. There’s still time, but considering the NHL has been talking about the expansion draft all season and yet is not sure whether protected-player lists will be publicized, let alone how much coverage will be dedicated to the draft, things aren’t too promising.
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