With NHL expansion to Las Vegas just around the corner and deadlines looming for protected lists, here’s a refresher for those interested in how the NHL Expansion Draft Rules work and how the NHL’s newest club – the Vegas Golden Knights – will come to fruition.
So, with that in mind, here’s how the NHL Expansion Draft will break down.
Protected Players List
The basic NHL expansion draft rules
For teams already in the league, they will have to submit a protected players list that Vegas won’t be able to draft from. To do this, they will have two options.
They can either choose to protect:
- Seven forwards, three defencemen and one goaltender
- Eight skaters (forwards or defencemen) and one goaltender.
Players who currently have no-movement clauses as a part of their contracts at the time of the Expansion Draft (and refuse to waive it) have to be protected by their respective franchise and will count towards the team’s protected list.
To add to that, all first and second-year professional skaters (including unsigned draft picks) will not be available for Vegas to select from and won’t be counted as part of the protected player’s list.
Clubs must submit their protected lists by 5:00 p.m. eastern standard time on Saturday, June 17, 2017.
Players Available for Expansion Draft Selection
You will see some surprises:
With respect to the players that are available for Vegas to select in the expansion draft, each team must meet certain requirements.
They have to expose one defenceman who is a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.
They will have to have two forwards available for selection who are a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.
Finally, one goaltender from each club has to be made available. They have to be under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18. However, clubs choose to make a restricted free agent goalie available in order to meet this requirement, that goaltender must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the club’s protected list.
Players with potential career-ending injuries who have missed more than the previous 60 consecutive games may not be used to satisfy a club’s player exposure requirements unless approval is received from the NHL. The league may also deem these players exempt from selection. For example, the Maple Leafs would not be able to satisfy the Expansion Draft requirements by exposing Nathan Horton (if he remains out of the lineup for the entirety of the 2016-17 season).
From there, we turn to the incoming franchise. How will the rules and regulations of the draft affect the Golden Knights?
Vegas will be more competitive out of gate than any previous NHL expansion team, Bettman said.
— Bob McKenzie (@TSNBobMcKenzie) June 22, 2016
How the Golden Knights Will Be Formed
The Knights will select one player from each presently existing club for a total of 30 players. However, if a team is in violation of Expansion Draft rules, Vegas could acquire additional players due to the penalty.
In addition, the new franchise will have to select the following positions – 14 forwards, nine defencemen and three goaltenders. From the 30 players that the Golden Knights will select, 20 of them will have to be under contract for the 2017-18 season. The players selected will also have to have a combined value of between 60 to 100 percent of the previous season’s salary cap ceiling.
While they will only have a select few to choose from for each existing franchise, Vegas won’t be able to buy out any of the players selected in the Expansion Draft until after their first full season (or until the summer of 2018).
Following the release of teams’ protected players lists at 10:00 a.m. on June 18, the Golden Knights and GM George McPhee will have the opportunity to sign UFAs and unprotected RFAs within a 72-hour window. This window closes at 10:00 a.m. on June 21 when they are expected to have their roster in place.
According to Pierre LeBrun, this would qualify as Vegas’ pick from that team if they are signed in that window. LeBrun finished the thought on Twitter explaining that in his discussions with McPhee, the Vegas GM fully expects to sign some free agents during that period.
Selections made by the Golden Knights are must be submitted by 5:00 p.m. eastern time on June 20. That gives the club three full days to make their picks. Their picks will finally be announced on June 21.
When it comes to the 2017 NHL Entry Draft, Vegas will be selecting sixth overall. In each subsequent round, Vegas will be awarded the third pick.
With all of the exciting expansion events just around the corner, this will prove to be a busy offseason for all teams – including the Golden Knights. That being said, when the puck drops on the 2017-18 season, the NHL will be a 31-team league with a new arena and team for fans to go have a look at.