You may have heard, but the NHL is considering expansion for the first time in 16 years. The last time the league expanded was in 2000 when it gave us the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets. Now, we may be seeing teams from Las Vegas or Quebec within the next few years, or neither.
We will find out for certain before the June draft, according to the GM meetings that are currently wrapping up in Boca Raton, Florida. Not only did we find out the deadline for a potential expansion announcement, we also learned a bit more about what an expansion draft will entail.
How many players can a team protect?
Expansion draft potential. Each team has option of protecting 3d, 7F and I goalie or 8 skaters +1 goalie. Expansion determined before draft— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) March 16, 2016
Teams will be able to protect three defensemen, seven forwards and one goaltender -- or a combination of eight skaters and a goaltender -- from an expansion draft. Enough to cover the stars, but teams will ultimately have to make sacrifices if their roster is exceptionally deep.
Bottom line on expansion draft as a few GMs said: each team has potential to lose either a No. 4 or No. 5 D, or a No. 6 or No. 7 F or a G— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) March 16, 2016
How many players can teams lose?
Daly: Most a team can lose in an expansion draft for one team is one player; teams can lose two players if two new teams join fold.— Frank Seravalli (@frank_seravalli) March 16, 2016
It's all a matter of how many teams make the expansion cut. There's only two up for grabs right now -- Las Vegas and Quebec -- so teams will either lose one player or two depending on what gets decided in June.
However, if the expectations hold, it's looking like only one will make the jump this year -- Las Vegas.
What about prospects?
Prospects are off the table for any potential expansion teams, along with first- and second-year players. There's no general consensus as to what constitutes a first- or second-year player quite yet, but it will probably have to do with the amount of games played in a season.
Even more interesting is that the professional tag will also apply to the AHL in the cases of first- and second-year players.
Should clarify: first- and second-year "pros" exempt from potential expansion draft, not necessarily NHL players. Pro includes AHL— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) March 16, 2016
It does look like, however, that third-year players on entry level contracts will be up for grabs unless protected.
How about players with No-Move Clauses attached to their contracts?
The NHL hasn't decided how they're going to deal with players that have No-Move Clauses in their contracts, but it looks as if they might not be available for the expansion draft when all is said and done.
It's not clear whether they'll have to be protected by their teams, taking up a spot that could have gone to some other player, or the NMC will be some class of its own.
What is certain is that things can still change, as the NHL and NHLPA must agree on the terms of an expansion draft before moving forward with the potential next step. The earliest an expansion team is set to take the ice is the 2017-18 season, with the draft presumably taking place before that season.