SAN JOSE, Calif. – With the NHL’s board of governors expected to vote later this month on expanding to Las Vegas for the 2017-18 season, teams have started receiving more information about what the accompanying expansion draft could look like.
Among the previously unreleased details being distributed, as told to Sportsnet by multiple sources, is an experience criteria attached to the players each team leaves unprotected. A minimum of two forwards and one defenceman must be exposed who have played 40 games the previous season, or a total of 70 over the previous two.
There is also a requirement that the 40/70 players are under contract for the first expansion season.
This was likely what deputy commissioner Bill Daly was referencing when he said before the Stanley Cup final that teams unable to comply with the draft rules would face a “significant” penalty.
“It’s a loss of draft picks and/or players,” he said.
Each team will be allowed to protect seven forwards, three defencemen and one goalie – a breakdown that has remained constant since Daly first outlined the potential draft process to reporters in March.
Players holding no-movement clauses – including those modified by limited no-trades, such as Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury – count against the protection limit, provided that those contracts and clauses extend through the 2017-18 season.
However, players with no-movement clauses on deals that expire June 30, 2017 like Calgary Flames defenceman Dennis Wideman or Minnesota Wild forward Thomas Vanek wouldn’t have to be protected for a draft that is likely to be held a week or two beforehand.
Teams will also be permitted to ask players to waive their no-movement clauses for inclusion in the expansion draft.
There is expected to be a lot of roster jockeying in the leadup to the anticipated June 2017 draft as teams try to best position themselves for it. The rules dictate that any player traded away during that period can’t be reacquired until after Jan. 1 the following season.
Players with two years of professional experience or less will be exempt from the process. Determining who that covers is based on the definition included in the collective bargaining agreement – meaning that 10 games played in the NHL at age 18 or 19 counts as a season, as does any American Hockey League or NHL season for players older than that.
The NHL’s board of governors is scheduled to meet June 22 in Las Vegas, where it’s expected that a vote will be held on the city’s expansion bid. Should that happen, a two-thirds majority would be required for approval.
With only one expansion team believed to be in play at this time, each existing NHL club could lose just one player maximum in a potential expansion draft.