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Winnipeg Jets: My Expansion Team

SBN conducted a mock expansion draft with me and James Mirtle as general managers. Not surprisingly, I took Winnipeg, and James took Quebec. Here's my team, with salaries:

# Player Pos. Previous Team 10-11 11-12 12-13 13-14
1 Colin White D New Jersey Devils 3 3
4 Josh Harding G Minnesota Wild 1.2
5 Michael Ryder F Boston Bruins 4
8 Radim Vrbata F Phoenix Coyotes 3
9 Roman Hamrlik D Montreal Canadiens 5.5
11 Dan Carcillo F Philadelphia Flyers 1.075
14 Vernon Fiddler F Phoenix Coyotes 1.1
15 Dave Steckel F Washington Capitals 1.1 1.1 1.1
18 Adam Foote D Colorado Avalanche 1
19 Sean O'Donnell D Philadelphia Flyers 1
22 BJ Crombeen F St. Louis Blues 0.885
23 Jerrod Smithson F Nashville Predators 0.75
26 Shawn Horcoff F Edmonton Oilers 6.5 6.5 6 4
27 Mattias Ohlund D Tampa Bay Lightning 4 5.5 5 3.75
30 Erik Ersberg G Los Angeles Kings 0.75
31 Bruno Gervais D New York Islanders 0.9
34 Rob Niedermayer F Buffalo Sabres 1.15
35 Karlis Skrastins D Dallas Stars 1.65
38 Scott Nichol F San Jose Sharks 0.76
39 Brian Rolston F New Jersey Devils 5 5
41 Tim Jackman F Calgary Flames 0.55 0.55
44 John Scott D Chicago Blackhawks 0.5 0.5
45 Drew Miller F Detroit Red Wings 0.65
48 Rick Rypien F Vancouver Canucks 0.55
49 Sami Salo D Vancouver Canucks 3.5
52 Ryan Carter F Anaheim Ducks 0.725

A few key notes:

- With the salary cap, expansion teams today won't be anywhere near as bad as expansion teams of the past. You can pretty easily show that a team that does nothing but spend to the cap by signing UFAs will be a playoff bubble team. So we shouldn't expect 29-game losing streaks from our two new entrants.

- There will be plenty of veterans with bad contracts left unprotected in the draft. Presumably Vancouver would have sent me a player or a draft pick in exchange for taking the injured Sami Salo off their hands.

- Cap management was very important to me. I'm still almost $10M under the cap for 2010-11 and I have just $22M allocated next season. There are plenty of NHL teams that are in much worse shape going forward, while this expansion team will have lots of flexibility. If you watched the Jets growing up like I did, you'll know Winnipeg fans are very patient in waiting for success, so I'll be able to dump a lot of these guys at the deadline for picks and prospects instead of chasing a first-round playoff exit.

- What was missing from the draft pool was anyone who might qualify as a good, young player. Josh Harding was probably the best RFA available, and with good reason - why would a team leave discount contracts unprotected?

- We were actually going to draft 30 players each, but by the time we got into the low-20s, there was nobody left worth drafting. I loaded up on a couple of fight-first players in Rick Rypien and John Scott and picked a player I know nothing about (Ryan Carter) to complete the draft.

- Defense is still undervalued by our SBN blog writers. From the players they left unprotected, I was able to assemble what I think is a solid defensive corps. I also picked up several good defensive forwards and two faceoff specialists in Dave 'Stecks' Steckel and Scott Nichol. My PP will probably suck though.

- James and I were nice enough to not collude or trade picks or players.

- I fully intended to draft Martin Biron, but I left it too long, and James closed out the Rangers

- Long Live the Winnipeg Jets!!!!