Las Vegas joins NHL: Here are the 2017 expansion draft rules

Now that the NHL’s Las Vegas expansion franchise is official, it’s time to figure out how that team is going to populated at the expense of its 30 new rivals.

The 2017 Expansion Draft will be held next summer, and the League firmed up the rules for it after weeks of speculation.

And here … we … go.

Protected Lists

* Clubs will have two options for players they wish to protect in the Expansion Draft:

a) Seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender

b) Eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender

* All players who have currently effective and continuing “No Movement” clauses at the time of the Expansion Draft (and who to decline to waive such clauses) must be protected (and will be counted toward their club’s applicable protection limits).

* All first- and second-year professionals, as well as all unsigned draft choices, will be exempt from selection (and will not be counted toward their club’s applicable protection limits).

This second option will be interesting for teams that have a stout defensive group and either can’t or don’t want to expose that fourth defenseman. So the Anaheim Ducks, for example, might want to go above three defensemen when they have to protect Kevin Bieksa and will want to protect (in theory) Sami Vatanen, Cam Fowler, Simon Despres and Hampus Lindholm.

Player Exposure Requirements

* All Clubs must meet the following minimum requirements regarding players exposed for selection in the Expansion Draft:

i) One defenseman who is a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.

ii) Two forwards who are a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.

iii) One goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18. If the club elects to make a restricted free agent goaltender available in order to meet this requirement, that goaltender must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the club’s protected list.

* Players with potential career-ending injuries who have missed more than the previous 60 consecutive games (or who otherwise have been confirmed to have a career-threatening injury) may not be used to satisfy a club’s player exposure requirements, unless approval is received from the NHL. Such players also may be deemed exempt from selection by the League.

The NHL is on record saying there will be penalties, like loss of draft picks, if teams don’t meet these minimum requirements.

Regulations Relating to Expansion Franchise

* The Las Vegas franchise must select one player from each presently existing club for a total of 30 players (not including additional players who may be acquired as the result of violations of the Expansion Draft rules).

* The Las Vegas franchise must select the following number of players at each position: 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders.

* The Las Vegas franchise must select a minimum of 20 players who are under contract for the 2017-18 season.

* The Las Vegas franchise must select players with an aggregate Expansion Draft value that is between 60-100% of the prior season’s upper limit for the salary cap.

* The Las Vegas franchise may not buy out any of the players selected in the Expansion Draft earlier than the summer following its first season.

Those last two parts are interesting, because it does put some pressure on the Vegas franchise to add salary and be competitive straightaway. Sixty percent of the current cap would be $43.8 million, which is the current cap hit for the New Jersey Devils and about $10 million under the current salary cap floor.

And that last part means no under-the-table deals with teams to take their problem contracts in the draft only to buy them out.

The 30 NHL clubs must submit their Protected Lists by 5:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 17, 2017. The Las Vegas franchise must submit its Expansion Draft selections by 5:00 p.m. ET on June 20. The announcement of their selections will be made on June 21, probably on a big live TV event on an obscure cable network. BUT NO LIVE DRAFT? Boring.

Oh, and in the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery, Las Vegas will have the same odds as the team finishing with the third-fewest points during the 2016-17 regular season.

So head over to General Fanager and start fantasy drafting!