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Wilderness Walk: Expansion Memories

Granlund is out for four games, Vegas sets a league record for expansion teams, and a ranking of NHL captains

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Carolina Hurricanes James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

The Vegas Knights had their first home game and they won in strong fashion 5-2 over the Arizona Coyotes (who to their credit were class acts and stayed on the ice after the game to salute the crowd). The Knights’ 3-0 start has made it clear that this team is more competitive out of the gate than previous expansion teams in the inaugural season. Part of that, of course, is landing a starting goaltender of Marc-Andre Fleury’s caliber, but the expansion draft rules clearly favored making the Knights a more competitive team than we’ve seen in the past. They also didn’t have to share the draft with another team as did the Minnesota Wild and the Columbus Blue Jackets. Looking back at even earlier expansion drafts just drives that point further home. When San Jose joined in 1991, they got to plunder the Minnesota North Stars’ roster, and then the Sharks and the North Stars got to draft players from the rest of the league. The next year saw another expansion draft from which only San Jose was exempt. The Ottawa Senators and the Tampa Bay Lightning not only had to share the draft between the two of them, but it was in a league that had just been plundered the season before.

So why did Vegas get the special treatment? They paid for it. Big time. The expansion fee paid by San Jose and the rest of the early 90s additions to the league paid $50 million each. Minnesota and Columbus both paid $80 million. Vegas paid $500 million. So as far as the owners are concerned, it was fair that Vegas got a more talented pool of players from which to draft. Of course, considering these people are able to put together $50-500 million dollars together to purchase a luxury, that’s not a crowd that has to worry about the world being fair to them very much. Fans of the teams, on the other hand, don’t get much benefit, except fans of the new team of course. Sometimes, as in the case of the North Stars, the fans see their team mangled so much that turnout to the game diminishes and eventually sold to an interested party in Dallas... but that’s a rant for another day. Ultimately, the point is that Vegas is off to a great start which is a nice reward to all the casinos people that believed Las Vegas could support Big Four professional team. For now.

Wild News

Wild’s Parise inches closer, but Granlund to miss next four games | Star Tribune

Wild’s Mikael Granlund expected to miss next four games | Pioneer Press

FERRELL: 3-on-3 — The First Two Games | Zone Coverage

Cullen Comes Home, But Isn’t Giving Up on Another Cup | USA Hockey

Top Five Minnesota Wild Forwards of All Time | The Hockey Writers

Tending the Fields

The top 75 players to watch in the NCAA this season | The Hockey News

2018 NHL Draft: WHL Prospects to Watch | The Hockey Writers

Off the Trail

Golden Knights strike balance between respect, celebration in home opener | SportsNet

Ranking Every 20017-18 NHL Captain | The Hockey Writers

The pressure's on: Five NHL players who have a lot to prove this season | The Hockey News