Vegas Golden Knights could benefit hugely from radical Exception Player idea

We are living in the land of radical ideas right now and a crazy suggestion could actually benefit the Vegas Golden Knights from a roster construction point of view.

The sporting world is on lockdown, including the Vegas Golden Knights and the rest of the NHL and, as such, suggestions for change will get a lot more attention without the distraction of games.

NHL Player Agent and Founder of KO Sports, Kurt Overhardt has certainly tried to take advantage of that after putting forward a rather outside the box proposal.

Titled the “Exception Player” rule, it could be brought in to help all 31 NHL teams in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, while it also has the legs to become a long-term solution in the game of hockey.

In a nutshell, the “Exception Player” rule would allow all 31 NHL teams to designate one elite or star player to be their “Exception Player”, thus excluding that player from the salary cap total as well as the share of the revenue split.

This proposal would only be an opt-in system and it would be up to each team to decide whether they’d want to get involved.

Any small-market teams that decided not to use the “Exception Player” rule would then be eligible for a luxury tax that would be charged to teams that do opt in.

Effectively, this rule would allow teams to keep their roster intact by leaving a star or elite player’s cap hit outside of the current salary cap system.

It wouldn’t be allowed to be applied to players on their entry-level contracts, rather big-name players who command big money.

Also, teams would be able to trade for a superstar or sign an elite player in free agency and then slap the “Exception Player” rule on that player.

You can read a full explanation of Overhardt’s idea here.

It is an interesting concept and one that is a little loose in detail right now, while it is an idea that probably won’t get much air time from the NHL in the current climate.

However, it is worth discussing and it could be an idea that really benefits the Golden Knights if it was ever introduced.

Mark Stone of the Vegas Golden Knights in action during the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on October 10, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona.

How It Impacts VGK

It is no secret that the Vegas Golden Knights have constructed a loaded and impressive core that is built to win right now and constructed to compete for multiple Stanley Cups.

However, on the flip side of that, they have a lot of money tied up in a handful of players and they are set to be tight against the cap for the second straight year.

But, with the “Exception Player” rule, it would allow them to take away a hefty cap hit from the salary cap, thus freeing up some room in order to keep more of their roster intact.

For instance, the Golden Knights could opt to use the “Exception Player” rule on Mark Stone, who has an Average Annual Value of $9,500,000 through 2026-27.

By taking advantage of this rule, the Knights would create a boatload of cap space overnight and would have plenty of cash to fill out the rest of the roster.

Just imagine if this suggestion was actually brought to life for 2020-21, Vegas could effectively take Stone’s cap hit out of the equation and, using the accumulated cap space, then have the luxury to be able to re-sign goalie Robin Lehner.

Now, let’s consider the other benefit of the “Exception Player” rule for the Golden Knights…

Alex Pietrangelo of the St. Louis Blues waits for a faceoff against the Toronto Maple Leafs during an NHL game at Scotiabank Arena on October 7, 2019 in Toronto.

More Star Power

In Kurt Overhardt’s proposal, it clearly states that Exception Players can be acquired through the Draft, Free Agency or a Trade.

Keeping that in mind, the Golden Knights could look to address a weakness in the off-season by bolstering their blueline and acquiring the real horse they so crave.

If this idea was in place for the 2020-21 NHL season, Vegas could go out and sign pending UFA Alex Pietrangelo to a bumper deal, then immediately slap the “Exception Player” rule on their shiny new toy.

As a result, the Golden Knights would push themselves over the top in their bid to win the Stanley Cup after adding an elite game-changer, while not having to trade away anyone or use a compliance buyout on a player.

You can also apply this to Dustin Byfuglien who will be an unrestricted free agent in the off-season should he wish to continue playing.

Carrying a cap hit of $7,600,000 while with the Winnipeg Jets, Byfuglien would be able to be signed by the Golden Knights for any price without that counting against the salary cap should they use the “Exception Player” rule on the human wrecking ball.

Put Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug in the same category who is also set to hit the open market in the summer.

For a contender like the Vegas Golden Knights, this suggestion would actually be hugely beneficial in that it would allow the front office to keep on improving the team while not being punished by the realities of living in a hard cap sport.

It is a really creative way to help teams both in the short-term and in the long-term, and it would be a huge help to the Golden Knights.

But, coming back into the real world for a minute, this is just a suggestion and it is likely to remain as such for the time being given that the NHL has bigger fish to fry.

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Plus, the idea of bringing a luxury tax in as part of this probably won’t fly with a lot of NHL General Managers, while NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman will likely be loathe to tamper with a cap system he has worked so hard to put in place.

But thinking about what ifs are always fun and, if this idea was ever implemented, then the Vegas Golden Knights would be huge winners.