As the NHL Board of Governors approved expansion to the city of Seattle for 2021 Tuesday, the Vegas Golden Knights learned they would not have to put players up in the impending Expansion Draft.
Vegas, the league's 31st franchise, selected one player from each of the 30 other teams in the league to form their first roster in summer 2017. That roster was tweaked through trades and signings to create a group that ended its first season together only three wins away from a Stanley Cup title.
The Golden Knights have a strong idea of what their core group will look like in 2021, but the relief of not having to put up any players for the expansion draft is something Assistant General Manager Kelly McCrimmon said he thinks it's important to the club right now and in the future.
"It's very significant," McCrimmon said. "We're still trying to build an organization and acquire organizational depth. We're pleased that we're not losing a player to Seattle."
McCrimmon would be the first to tell you that a competitive team can be put together with assets from other clubs that aren't valued as highly as others. When he and General Manager George McPhee put together the Golden Knights inaugural roster, they found players who needed a change to thrive in the NHL.
Now with no requirement of losing a player to Seattle, McCrimmon can take solace in his roster remaining safe on that significant day.
"It'll be a good process to be an observer on and not be in the uncomfortable position that the other 30 teams will be in," McCrimmon said.
From a management standpoint, McCrimmon said he believes that recently having gone through an expansion draft will help teams around the league plan for the day when Seattle comes knocking.
"When we had our opportunity with expansion, it had been 17 years since the last expansion," McCrimmon said. "This time around, most people are going to have the experience of having been through this one time and that will help with their preparation."
When the ownership group in Seattle puts pillars of management in place, they'll go through a very similar process that the Golden Knights and their staff went through in the early days of their own expansion. McCrimmon said he thinks the new franchise will go about its business in its own way but could look to the tactics Vegas employed in the process.
"There's a lot to learn for Seattle from what we did without even having a conversation with them," McCrimmon said. "I think they're going to have a pretty good understanding of what they need to do."
When the Board of Governors announced Vegas would be the home of the league's 31st team, there was plenty of speculation surrounding whether the city would take to the team. In present day, it's easy to see the success the NHL has had in expanding to Las Vegas and the league hopes to have a similar result in Seattle.
McCrimmon, who previously worked in a variety of roles with the Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings, knows Seattle well. The home of the WHL's Thunderbirds, Seattle has a market that McCrimmon thinks is ready for a hockey team.
"It's a beautiful city, a growing city and it's geographically a great fit for the NHL," he said. "It's an exciting and noteworthy day for the people of Seattle and it's an exciting day for the National Hockey League."