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Here's your guide to the NHL’s Las Vegas expansion draft

Your handy guide to expansion chaos.

The 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, explained

Still wondering how the NHL Expansion Draft will work? Let us explain.

Posted by SB Nation NHL on Thursday, June 1, 2017
The 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, explained.

The Vegas Golden Knights are here! This is exciting for their new fans. But fans of the other 30 teams are probably wondering what this means for their clubs.

That's because an expansion draft is coming in 2017. Every NHL franchise will take part in it. Your team might lose some players you like. The NHL posted the full rules, but we'll break them down in layman's terms for you right now.

First of all, when is the expansion draft?

There's no formal draft event. There are just some important dates.

  • Monday, June 12: the last day for teams to ask players with no-movement clauses to waive them.
  • Friday, June 16: Players have until 5 p.m. to waive their expansion draft protections if they qualify. More on that in a bit.
  • By 5 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 17, 2017, all 30 NHL franchises are required to submit their list of protected players. The entire league will be under a roster freeze at 3 p.m. ET. No trades. No waivers. No nothing.
  • Sunday, June 18: Expansion protected lists are sent out to every team, and the Golden Knights get to interview players they might want to select.
  • By 10 a.m. ET on June 21, the Golden Knights must submit the list of players it has selected.
  • On June 21, the NHL will announce those selections at the NHL Awards.

That seems quick.

Sure does.

How many players does Vegas have to pick?

The Golden Knights need to finish the draft with 30 players: 14 forwards, nine defensemen, and three goalies; one player from each franchise. At least 20 of them must be under contract for the 2017-18 season.

How can my favorite team protect players?

The big question. All 30 clubs can only protect nine players. NHL teams get two options for players they want to protect.

  • Seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goalie. This is referred to as the “7-3-1” strategy.
  • Eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender.

Do the players get a say?

Sort of. Any players with no-movement clauses (NMCs) by the time the expansion draft takes place are mandatorily protected, though NHL general managers can try to convince them to waive those protections if they have to.

Oh, good.

Wait. There's a catch. Those players will count against your team's protection quota.

What? That sucks.

Blame your dumb general manager for handing out no-movement clauses like candy.

OK, what about those fun rookies I like?

Good news! Any first- or second-year player will be exempt from the expansion draft and won't count toward the protection limits. That goes for any unsigned rookies too.

Phew. So which players are teams required to expose to the draft?

Here's what the NHL says:

i) One defenseman 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.

ii) Two forwards 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.

iii) One goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18. If the club elects to make a restricted free agent goaltender 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.

So any player exposed to the draft must meet those requirements. In the ridiculous case that the Capitals don't protect Alex Ovechkin, he would be eligible. But that won't happen. So perhaps someone like Lars Eller, or Brooks Orpik. Or a goalie like Philipp Grubauer.

But those are decent players.

That's the point. The NHL is making sure Las Vegas gets players good enough to field a competitive roster. The league doesn’t want its new franchise mired in mediocrity from the get-go.

That makes sense.


What abou--

Players with career-ending (or career-threatening) injuries on Long-Term Injured Reserve? Like Johan Franzen on the Red Wings? Or Dave Bolland on the Coyotes? They aren't eligible for exposure.

How did you know I was going to ask that?

I am you.


Next question.

So what are the rules Vegas has to follow?

Simply put:

  • Vegas has to select one player from each of the other 30 franchises.
  • At least 20 of those players must be under contract for the 2017-18 season.
  • They'll need 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies.
  • "The Las Vegas franchise must select players with an aggregate Expansion Draft value that is between 60-100% of the prior season's upper limit for the salary cap." I don't know how to put that simply. Numbers. CapFriendly is a good resource for figuring that out, though.
  • Vegas can't buy out anyone it drafts the next summer.

What’s this about trades?

The weeks leading up to the expansion draft should be busy, since Vegas GM George McPhee can trade assets with teams. The key is gaining as many draft picks as possible.

Blueshirt Banter did a good breakdown of what this means, breaking potential trades down into bribes and exports:

“Bribes” are when a team gives assets to Vegas in a trade, where a condition of the trade is for Vegas to make an arranged selection in the draft. To be specific, it could be a few different methodologies of bribing:

A team bribing Vegas to take a particular player: for instance, the Rangers giving the VGK a draft pick to select Klein (as opposed to otherwise-available Fast, Grabner, Lindberg, or Raanta).

A team bribing Vegas to not take a particular player: for instance, Pittsburgh giving VGK a draft pick to not select Fleury or Murray.

A team bribing Vegas to select a particular player from a third-party team and shipping them over: for instance, Colorado giving VGK a draft pick to select Schlemko from San Jose and promptly trade him to the Avs.

In essence, Vegas holds every card. That is a pun.

Cool. This Vegas stuff sounds fun. But what about Quebec City or Seatt--

[logs off]