Details on NHL Expansion Draft

All 30 of the NHL’s general managers are in Florida for their annual meetings with the league.

Of the many topics being discussed, one that has many fans and teams interested is that of expansion. With it looking likely that the league will be expanding to at least Las Vegas, and possibly Quebec City, in the near future, details surrounding an expansion draft have been laid out.

Should the league expand by one team, every team in the league will lose one player. Two players will be lost by each team should the NHL expand from 30 teams to 32. Other details surrounding league expansion can be found below courtesy of ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

  • Teams will have the option of either protecting seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie in total; or go with the option of protecting eight skaters (whether they’re defensemen or forwards) and one goalie.


  • First- and second-year pros — those are players playing pro hockey at any level — will be exempt from the expansion draft; the bottom line is that if they are signed and playing pro hockey, they’re exempt in their first two years. But if they’re entering their third year of pro hockey, they’re no longer exempt for the expansion draft. Teams would have to either protect them or expose them.


  • Unsigned draft picks, think college or European players mostly, are exempt from the expansion draft for two years from their draft year but no longer in Year 3, so teams will have to either rush to sign those guys or simply expose them in the expansion draft.


  • The total salaries for the players made available by each team in the expansion draft must be at least 25 percent of the previous season’s payroll for that team. To which Daly explained: “The other variation that makes this expansion draft different is we would contemplate having some thresholds based on salary to make sure that the expansion club can be competitive based on the ranges we have in the CBA. Teams would have some obligation to expose a level of salary. And in terms of drafting players, teams would have to draft a certain threshold of salary.”

A decision on expansion will come before the 2016 NHL Draft in June. With the league hoping to have expansion teams playing by the 2017-18 season, the draft would likely come around the time of the 2017 NHL Draft. This will give teams at least one full year to make decisions on who to protect, and who to make available.

There has been no decision on what to do with players who have no-movement clauses in their contracts, though it’s expected that they wouldn’t be available for selection.

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