The expectations are that the NHL’s board of governors will approve the arrival of a 31st team for the National Hockey League, with Las Vegas joining the fun for the 2017-2018 season. The board will be meeting in Vegas on June 22, where the vote to approve will probably be cast and the wheels will be in motion for an expansion draft.
This will be the league’s first expansion draft since the institution of the salary cap in 2005, which suggests more than a few complications. To address these complications, the NHL supplied its 30 owners with some interesting information about how things will play out.
After all, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has insisted that this expansion draft will put Las Vegas on the map with a more competitive roster than other expansion teams have had in the past.
The new team will be required to draft one player from each team, with a minimum of three goalies, nine defencemen and 14 forwards.
As for the 30 teams, there are some rules.
They have to expose at least two forwards and one defenceman with at least 40 games of experience in the 2016-2017 season or 70 games in the previous two seasons. That ensures that some experienced players are available, although teams can only lose a maximum of one player.
Teams can’t trade a player after January 1, 2017 and expect to reacquire the same player prior to January 1, 2018. This is to prevent teams from trading someone to another club with the intention of “protecting” said player from Las Vegas.
Each of the 30 teams can protect seven forwards, three defencemen and one goalie. Players with no-movement clauses and even those with modified no-trade clauses will count against the aforementioned protection limit, at least as long as the existing contracts and/or clauses extend through the 2017-2018 season. Teams can ask players to waive their clauses to be included in the expansion draft, of course.
It should also be noted that players with less than two years of professional hockey experience are exempt from the expansion draft.
We should probably expect a pretty busy period ahead of the expansion draft and there could be some interesting positioning as June of 2017 draws around the corner, with Las Vegas all but certain to enter the league.