David Clarkson didn’t play a single game in 2015-16 and has suited up in just 26 games over the past three seasons. And yet, his contract could be a huge deal when the Vegas Golden Knights make picks during this month’s expansion draft.

Earlier this month, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggested the Golden Knights and Columbus Blue Jackets were working on a deal involving Clarkson. Later, it was speculated the deal could involve a first-round pick and a prospect. The oft-injured forward has more than $15 million owed over the next three years, so the move would essentially be an asset-for-salary swap.

Further adding fuel to the speculation is the Blue Jackets reportedly not protecting Scott Hartnell in the draft. If Vegas has a deal worked out, there’s no need to protect him.

It’s wacky how a deal can already be worked out, but it’s allowed under the current expansion draft structure. Vegas knows they can take on bad contracts to build assets and is surely taking advantage of other teams in doing so. However, the speculated deal would be a massive misstep for the Blue Jackets.

Columbus doesn’t have a ton of cap room thanks to a bevy of high-dollar contracts, so moving Clarkson would certainly relieve some of that pressure. But, is clearing up $5.3 million for the next three seasons really worth a first-round pick and a prospect? To me, not quite.

In the 2016 NHL Draft, the Arizona Coyotes traded for one-year of Pavel Datsyuk at $7.5 million for four spots in the draft (plus a second-rounder went to Detroit). Furthermore, Mark Savard was dealt in 2015 with Reilly Smith for Jimmy Hayes and AGAIN traded with a second-round pick to the New Jersey Devils the last offseason in exchange for practically nothing. Teams have gained assets – but not huge ones – in exchange for contracts.

Now, the difference with Clarkson is he has three years attached to his contract, so he’ll command more. Still, by acquiring him Vegas would get one heck of a deal and they’d only have to pay 20% of his contract thanks to insurance.

Not a bad deal for hitting the cap floor, right?

It’s a win-win for Vegas. As for Columbus? They shed themselves of a bad deal but potentially give up two assets to do it. Alternatively, the Blue Jackets might be better off waiting until the NHL Draft and waiting for a Clarkson deal in a potential sale. Shedding the first-round pick in that deal with Vegas or any other team makes a little more sense, but adding a prospect (and the rumor is Sonny Milano, although that’s just Twitter buzz) in a potential deal is nonsense. You’d like to think Columbus management is better at asset management than to hand over two assets for Vegas who is more inclined to take on Clarkson’s deal.

Adding Clarkson’s contract makes sense for Vegas. It doesn’t make sense if the Blue Jackets are giving up multiple assets. It’s understandable if it’s just a first-round pick or a prospect, but anything more and it’s questionable at best.

About Liam McGuire

Social +Staff writer for The Comeback & Awful Announcing. Liammcguirejournalism@gmail.com