This year, trade talk won’t end once the clock strikes 3 p.m. ET on March 1.
The league’s newest franchise, the Vegas Golden Knights, can begin assembling its roster as soon as the sale of the expansion team to owner Bill Foley closes, which is expected to be “on or around” March 1 — the NHL’s trade deadline day.
“It’s not a hard date,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly cautioned Saturday, while describing the first steps general manager George McPhee can take in building his team.
“Once they close the transaction, [McPhee] will be able to make player-related transactions within some parameters,” Daly said. “Obviously he still can’t acquire players who are still playing the 2016-17 season, but he can acquire draft picks, he can acquire [unsigned draft choices], sign draft choices, player assets. He can start making deals associated with the expansion draft.”
In other words, let the games begin.
As Vegas continues preparations for the June 21 expansion draft and the entry draft just a few days later, Sportsnet’s hockey panel outlined a few more details about how, exactly, the club will be handled going into its first-ever draft.
The Golden Knights will be included in the 2017 draft lottery, where they will have the same odds as the club that finishes in third-last place. Based on the lottery system implemented for the first time last year, that means they’ll pick no later than sixth overall. Vegas will then have the third pick in each of the six rounds that follow over the course of the June 23-24 event.
“The entry draft is going to be incredibly important for our franchise,” Vegas assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon said. “Obviously every NHL team is going to say that, and it has a lot of meaning for each club.
“Because we’re brand new, because we’re needing players, needing depth, our future stars, the entry draft is really going to have a lot of importance.”
“I think where George McPhee and myself are going to be involved is just in terms of having a handle on who the top players are, being able to ask questions, being able to have familiarity with those top players,” McCrimmon explained. “And then alongside that, we’ve also got the expansion draft, which of course our pro scouting staff is working on all throughout the winter as well.”