With the official announcement about the upcoming NHL expansion to Las Vegas coming on June 22nd, some information about the rules associated with an expansion draft has started to disseminate. The draft would be held at some point after the 2016-17 Stanley Cup Final, but before the July 1st free agency period. Here’s what we know thus far:
- Eligibility is determined by how many professional seasons, as outlined by the CBA, a player has completed. Anyone with two or fewer seasons will be exempt from the draft. This includes seasons in the American Hockey League, and means that any third-year professionals are eligible to be selected.
- Each team will be allowed to protect seven forwards, three defencemen and one goaltender from the draft.
- Players holding no-movement clauses that do not expire until after the 2017-18 season are automatically protected, and count against the totals. Teams however will be allowed to ask a player to waive a NMC prior to the draft, making them eligible. If the clause expires after the 2016-17 season (like in the case of Calgary’s Dennis Wideman) they will not be guaranteed protection even though the draft will take place prior.
- Each team must expose at least two forwards and one defenceman who has played in at least 40 NHL games the prior season, or a combined 70 games in the previous two. These players must also be under contract for the first expansion season.
- Clubs have to expose at least one goaltender who is under contract for the first expansion season.
- At least twenty of the expansion team’s thirty selections must be under contract for the first expansion season, and though they can trade anyone following the draft, a player may not return to the team he was selected from until January 1st.
- There are going to be stiff penalties for any team who does not meet the requirements, in the form of picks or players.
- Each team can only lose a maximum of one player, should there be just a single expansion team. The new team has to select a certain number of players at each position, including a minimum of three goaltenders.
- The new team cannot buy-out any player selected until after the first expansion season.
For teams like Pittsburgh, who have one goaltender with a NMC and another leading the team to the Stanley Cup Finals, some tough decisions will have to be made over the next year. Marc-Andre Fleury at the moment would force protection due to his no-movement clause, while playoff superstar Matt Murray will be eligible after what would be his third professional season.
In Winnipeg, both Toby Enstrom and Dustin Byfuglien have NMCs that will run through 2017-18 taking up two of their three defenceman slots. This means the Jets will have to expose one of their young defenders like Tyler Myers or Jacob Trouba if a deal isn’t struck between now and then. Losing either of them would be a disaster for the Jets, as Myers was a big part of the return for Evander Kane and Zach Bogosian, while Trouba was the 9th overall pick in 2012. Rumors have already started to swirl around Trouba, perhaps because of the issue facing Winnipeg down the road.
Situations like this present themselves all over the NHL, and though each team will only lose a single player, many will make moves to make sure their most prized assets remain untouchable. Here on Pro Hockey Rumors we’ll continue to breakdown potential draftees over the next year, giving you the inside scoop on who is available and who Las Vegas will select when they step to the podium for that draft next season.