The National Hockey League is hitting the second gear on plans for expansion by deciding the rules for an NHL Expansion Draft.
According to Gary Lawless of TSN, the NHL and National Hockey League Players Association have come to terms on what the expansion draft would entail, before it goes to the NHL executive committee to officially recommend expansion.
According to Lawless’ report, these are the confirmations:
- Players with no movement clauses will be protected by teams.
- Players with no trade clauses are not exempt and can be selected by an expansion team.
- If expansion is going to happen for the 2017-2018 NHL season, general managers would have to be informed prior to the 2016 NHL Entry Draft.
- The cost of an expansion franchise is $500 million.
- Existing teams can either protect seven forwards, three defenceman and one goaltender or eight skaters and one goaltender.
Last year I discussed the history of expansion drafts in preparation for this, explaining that in the past, teams were allowed to protect nine forwards, five defencemen and one goaltender or seven forwards, three defencemen and two goaltenders. You now cannot protect two goaltenders, and can only protect either nine or 11 players instead of 12 or 15.
It’s likely that rookie and sophomore players will continue to be protected, though the National Hockey League could decide you have to protect players who have signed new contracts since their entry level contracts. Nothing has yet to be said on how many games a player must have played. In the past, you had to leave a player (usually a defenceman) with at least 40 games played the previous season or 70 in the past two seasons combined.
Nothing has also been said as to whether this expansion team has to make the salary floor, though I can see that being an expectation. For 30 teams to only protect between nine and 11 players, it could force general managers to leave a good player with a large salary open, even if it hurts the club. It’s more likely for the expansion team to use free agency to bump any salaries up to the cap floor.
As for the expansion team itself, it’s expected to be in Las Vegas, Nevada. The T-Mobile Arena opened earlier this month holding a concert featuring The Killers, Shamir and Wayne Newton. It has a 17,500 capacity for ice hockey and was built as a joint venture between MGM Resorts International and the Anschutz Entertainment Group, who owns the Los Angeles Kings. Bill Foley is the prospective owner of the potential expansion club, with Wayne Gretzky working as an unofficial advisor. Foley has said his preferred name for a Las Vegas NHL team would be the Black Knights, in tribute to the Army West Point Black Knights.
It will be interesting to see what pool of talent an expansion team will be able to pull from once an expansion draft occurs, with no movement clause players exempt from being selected and there being less players to protect. There’s still quite a lot of questions to answer, and even if the NHL will pull the trigger on expansion by 2017-18. There is also the league expanding to only one city, leaving an imbalance in the league, and how long it would take for another team to receive an expansion club.