Seattle’s possible NHL expansion draft would have same rules as Vegas

Tim Leiweke joined Prime Time Sports to talk about introducing the NHL into Seattle and how he has learned from the Vegas Golden Knights.

If and when Seattle is officially granted an NHL franchise, the expansion draft to follow would be conducted under the exact same rules as when the Vegas Golden Knights broke into the league.

As Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reported Wednesday at the GM meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said general managers have been informed Seattle’s expansion guidelines would be the same as they were in 2017.

The Oak View Group, along with prospective owners David Bonderman and Jerry Bruckheimer, officially submitted Seattle’s bid to the NHL in February. The group, which is currently in the process of revamping KeyArena, held a season ticket drive in early March where fans had the opportunity to make a deposit for priority access to tickets. More than 10,000 deposits were collected within 12 minutes of the drive opening. More than 25,000 deposits were collected altogether.

To that, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman responded: “They have begun what looks like an amazing expression of interest. We’re aware of it. Obviously, that’s one of the many factors that we have to evaluate as we go through the expansion process. And other than the ticket drive, which obviously didn’t seem like it’s taking a whole lot of time, we’re in the infancy of the process. So there are some boxes we have to evaluate and check before the board gets anywhere close to having to make a decision.”

As we’ve seen from the Pacific Division-leading Golden Knights this season, the expansion rules can result in having a playoff-calibre squad in an inaugural season.

So, as a refresher, here are the rules Seattle would have to follow.

Player protection

The 31 current teams will have two options to choose from when it comes to which players will be left exposed. Teams can (a) protect exactly seven forwards, three defencemen and one goalie or (b) protect eight total skaters regardless of position plus one goalie.

The vast majority of teams went with a standard 7-3-1 protection list ahead of the Vegas draft, however the Arizona Coyotes, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Nashville Predators, New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins each decided to protect four defencemen and four forwards, while the New York Islanders protected just three forwards and five blueliners.

Players with no-movement clauses will be protected automatically. Also, any first- or second-year professionals and all unsigned draft choices are exempt.

Player exposure

Every team must leave exposed at least one defenceman and two forwards that are under contract for the following season and played 40 or more NHL games the season prior (or have played in 70 or more total NHL games over the previous two seasons combined). Each team must also expose at least one goalie who is under contract for the following season or one that is a pending restricted free agent.

Players with career-threatening injuries or health issues that have missed at least 60 consecutive games (think Marian Hossa in Chicago) would not be allowed to count towards a team’s exposure requirements.

Player selection

Seattle would be required to select one player from each of the 31 teams, including a minimum of 20 players who are under contract for the next season. They’d also have to select a minimum of 14 forwards, nine defencemen and three goaltenders. Vegas ended up selecting 14 forwards, 13 defencemen and three goalies.

The total contractual value of the players selected would have to fall somewhere between 60 and 100 per cent of the previous season’s salary cap, and Seattle would not be allowed to buy out any contracts until the summer after its debut season.

NHL Draft Lottery odds

The Golden Knights were given the same odds as the team with the third-worst record the season prior (they ended up with the sixth-overall pick) and were slated to select third in rounds two through seven. Seattle would presumably be given the same odds.

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