The Federal Hockey League’s annual league meetings have gone on for the better part of this week, and normally there’s not a ton of stuff happening at them, but this year is a little different with reportedly three new teams on the way.
What we didn’t expect was the league to hold an expansion draft, because the league had announced nothing about a possible expansion draft, and hadn’t finalized the two other expansion teams that are on the way. That and we don’t recall last year’s two expansion teams getting an expansion draft to help them out.
Well, either by accident or some other reason, the Port Huron Prowlers Facebook page posted this message on Wednesday night, basically leaking that the expansion draft was happening right then and there.
Let’s get the first thing out of the way: The FHL really handled this poorly, by not announcing it or even acknowledging anything about it. Fans were left out in the cold, and then once the above picture was posted fans of pretty much every team were wondering if their players were going to be leaving.
It’s a blown chance to market the event, build excitement during the off-season, and keep fans in the loop. Again, aside from this picture, there has not been a single thing about the expansion draft from the league.
Well, it gets weirder and worse.
From what we have been told, each team was allowed to protect the rights to 12 of the team’s 21 players, with the limit being five players maximum from a single team.
So you figure, three teams are making picks and each team will get six picks, so that’s around 18 players being taken, and nearly every returning team getting affected somehow. (Also keep in mind, that just because a team selects a player in the expansion draft, it DOES NOT mean they will play there next season. It just means they have their rights and first crack at signing them for the season.)
But since then there has not been a peep about what went down in during the expansion draft, not from the league and not from any team in an official capacity, so we did our best to try and recap what we know to this point, and try to make any sense of it.
- Nothing has been officially announced by any team or the league
- Columbus was able to make six selections
- Danbury was only allowed to make two selections
- Delaware got a big ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
- Carolina lost the maximum five players
So let’s go bullet by bullet with this.
Nothing being announced by the teams or league is both fine and a problem at the same time. For the teams, I get it, you want to announce your players when you’re officially announced and make a big splash with that news rather than it leaking out before anything else. But for the league to not even admit that the draft happened or to follow it with a, “Teams will announce the results on their own,” sort of statement is just really bad. We know it’s happening, there’s no point in pretending to look the other way and hoping that people forget about it.
Columbus making six picks, that seems fine at first. There’s six teams so if Columbus were to take one player from each team, that would be a totally fair and logical expansion draft. But as we go further down our bullet points above, that doesn’t appear to be what happened.
Here’s our first confusion: Why the hell did Columbus get six picks, and Danbury, also an expansion team, albeit in a town that previously had an FHL team and has owners and people on board with FHL experience, only get two? Danbury getting only two picks was confirmed to us by a person within the Danbury organization. That makes absolutely no sense and if I’m part of the Danbury organization, I’m more than a little upset that one team got four more selection for some reason.
And as for Delaware getting nothing, that we know of at this moment: We have no clue on that one, and you have to wonder if they’ll have some sort of expansion draft or something for them once they are officially added to the league. Or maybe the Delaware team doesn’t have a coach or GM in place yet to make those selections and just decided to pass. Either way, it’s getting weirder and weirder that one team got six picks, another confirmed they only got two, and then that a third team has had so far no information about if they even took part in it.
Finally, according to a source close to the Carolina Thunderbirds, the maximum number of Thunderbirds, five, were picked. That’s right, of the eight players that we know for sure were picked last night, five were from one team, meaning it’s entirely possible that as many as four teams didn’t lose a single player. Carolina losing players was kind of to be expected given how good the team was last year, but it’s insanely unfair to them that they made up nearly 60 percent of the known draft and lose the rights to five players. Especially since it’s very likely that almost all of them went to one team.
Like we said above, had the rules been that each team has to pick one player from each team, and every team loses three players, that would have been a more than fair way to do the draft. Instead, it appears as if one team was pilfered, and more than one team had no players taken from them. I get not all teams are created equal and Carolina had way more good players to pick from than say Mentor or Danbury, but that just seems like robbery. If I were a Carolina fan, coach, or front office member, I’d be really mad that over 20 percent of my roster is now gone, and that’s before free agency and the chance to bring players back even starts.
And then back to the first thing we noted: It’s odd they’d have an expansion draft, when we don’t recall one ever happening for Elmira or Mentor last year. If it did, please correct us, but we just don’t remember anything for those two teams. But in fairness, these teams are set to be announced and official months before Elmira (mid-July) and Mentor (August) were last year, so there just may not have been time to have an expansion draft last season.
So to recap, the FHL tried to have an expansion draft basically in secret. Then Columbus got to make six selections, Danbury only got two for some reason, we don’t even know if Delaware took part, and then one team lost a whopping five players, possibly on only eight picks.
I guess we’ll find out more in the coming days when these teams are officially announced and release the news of their first player transactions, but that sure is a lousy way to go about having an expansion draft.