The National Hockey League will usher in its 101st season in October with a 31st team, the Vegas Golden Knights.
Last June, Las Vegas was awarded a franchise after majority team owner Bill Foley ponied up a record $500-million US expansion fee. Several front-office types were then hired along with general manager George McPhee, who appointed Gerard Gallant head coach and added assistants Mike Kelly and Ryan Craig.
Next week, a 30-player roster will be unveiled. Here’s the NHL’s Vegas expansion draft, explained:
When is the expansion draft?
The Golden Knights draft is a three-day process, starting Sunday. The other 30 NHL franchises must submit their lists of protected players (names that won’t be exposed to the expansion draft) to the league by 5 p.m. ET on Saturday.
At 10 a.m. on Sunday, the protected lists will be made public. Vegas will then have until 5 p.m. on Tuesday to inform the league of its player selections, and the NHL will announce the expansion draft results the following evening during its awards ceremony at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, starting at 8 p.m.
How many players will Vegas draft?
The Golden Knights must choose one player — no more, no less — from each of the other 30 teams. Should a team break the rules of the expansion draft, it could lose an extra player or a draft pick as a penalty.
What guidelines must Vegas follow?
McPhee and company must follow three rules when selecting their 30 players:
- At least 20 must be under contract for next season.
- They must select 14 forwards, nine defencemen and three goalies, while the remaining four players can be of any position.
- The salaries of the players selected must combine to be between 60 and 100 per cent of the NHL salary cap’s upper limit.
Also, Vegas cannot buy out the contracts of any of their chosen players before next summer, following a full season.
Who can be protected by the 30 other clubs?
Each team has two options for what positions they want to protect:
- Seven forwards, three defencemen and one goalie
- Eight skaters and one goalie
All players with effective and continuing no-movement clauses at the time of the expansion draft must be protected and will count toward their team’s protection limits. Friday at 5 p.m. is the deadline for said players to agree to waive their no-move clauses. Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury revealed this week that he agreed to waive his no-move clause, while Ottawa defenceman Dion Phaneuf is reportedly unlikely to waive his.
Player contracts might dictate which of the two options a team chooses. For example, the Colorado Avalanche have two defencemen in Tyson Barrie and Nikita Zadorov they would like to protect and two others, Erik Johnson and Francois Beauchemin, who have a no-movement clause in their contracts. They would have to convince either Johnson or Beauchemin to waive their NMC or choose the second option.
Which players are exempt?
Prospects: All players with less than three years of professional experience are automatically exempt. That means young stars like Edmonton’s Connor McDavid and Toronto’s Auston Matthews don’t need to be protected to remain with their teams. This provision also includes unsigned draft picks and signed players that have yet to appear in a NHL game. A year of professional experience is 10 pro games played under an NHL contract, including regular season and playoffs.
Injured players: Players with potential career-ending injuries that have missed more than the previous 60 consecutive games, including Arizona’s Dave Bolland, Detroit’s Johan Franzen, Pittsburgh’s Pascal Dupuis and Toronto’s Nathan Horton, among others.
Who must the other 30 teams expose?
Teams must expose a minimum of two forwards under contract for next season that have played either 40-plus games this past season or 70-plus contests between the 2015-16 and 2016-17 campaigns.
At least one defenceman will need to be made available that meets the same restrictions as forwards
As for goalies, each team will have to expose at least one under contract for next season, or a qualified restricted free agent. There are no minimum games played restrictions for goaltenders.
Can the Golden Knights make side deals?
Yes. You will likely hear of such moves, with other teams wanting Vegas to take or not take certain players in the expansion draft. While these deals need to be above-board and all terms filed with the league, they don’t need to be made public.
Can McPhee make trades?
The Golden Knights are allowed to deal any player selected in the expansion draft. However, they can’t return such a player to the team from which he was selected until Jan. 1, 2018.