The NHL's Vegas expansion draft, explained

With the Vegas Golden Knights set to announce their 30-player roster at Wednesday's NHL awards ceremony, here are answers to some key questions about the NHL's first expansion draft since 2000.

Answers to some frequently asked questions

The expansion Vegas Golden Knights will build their 30-man roster starting Sunday and until June 20. Players potentially available, from left, include forwards Tomas Plekanec and Benoit Pouliot, defenceman Jonas Brodin and Stanley Cup champion goalie Marc-Andre Fleury. (Getty Images/CBC Sports)

The National Hockey League will usher in its 101st season in October with a 31st team, the Vegas Golden Knights.

Last June, Las Vegas was awarded a franchise after majority team owner Bill Foley ponied up a record $500-million US expansion fee. Several front-office types were then hired along with general manager George McPhee, who appointed Gerard Gallant head coach and added assistants Mike Kelly and Ryan Craig.

The Golden Knights' 30-player roster will be unveiled at the NHL awards ceremony on Wednesday at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, starting at 8 p.m. ET. Here's the Vegas expansion draft, explained:

When is the expansion draft?

The Golden Knights draft was a three-day proces that started on Sunday. The other 30 NHL franchises submitted their lists of protected players (names that won't be exposed to the expansion draft) to the league by 5 p.m. ET on Saturday.

At 10:30 a.m. on Sunday, the protected lists were made public. Vegas then had until 5 p.m. on Tuesday to inform the league of its player selections.

Also on Sunday morning, the Golden Knights began a 72-hour window to sign unprotected pending unrestricted and restricted free agents, ahead of the July 1 deadline all other teams adhere to. The protection lists of the other teams will also be made public that day.

How many players will Vegas draft?

The Golden Knights must choose one player — no more, no less — from each of the other 30 teams. Should a team break the rules of the expansion draft, it could lose an extra player or a draft pick as a penalty.

However, if Vegas signs a pending UFA or RFA from Pittsburgh, that player would count as the Golden Knights' draft selection from the Penguins.

What guidelines must Vegas follow?

McPhee and company must follow three rules when selecting their 30 players:

  • At least 20 must be under contract for next season.
  • They must select 14 forwards, nine defencemen and three goalies, while the remaining four players can be of any position.
  • The salaries of the players selected must combine to be between 60 and 100 per cent of the NHL salary cap's upper limit.

Also, Vegas cannot buy out the contracts of any of their chosen players before next summer, following a full season.

On March 6, forward Reid Duke, left, of the Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings became the first member of the Golden Knights, signing a three-year entry-level contract. (Ben Nelms/Getty Images/File)

Who can be protected by the 30 other clubs?

Each team has two options for which positions they want to protect:

  • Seven forwards, three defencemen and one goalie
  • Eight skaters and one goalie

All players with effective and continuing no-movement clauses at the time of the expansion draft must be protected and will count toward their team's protection limits. Friday at 5 p.m. was the deadline for said players to agree to waive their no-move clauses. Pittsburgh goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, for instance, revealed last week that he agreed to waive his no-move clause.

Player contracts might dictate which of the two options a team chooses. For example, the Colorado Avalanche have two defencemen in Tyson Barrie and Nikita Zadorov they wanted to protect and two others, Erik Johnson and Francois Beauchemin, who have no-movement clauses in their contracts. But last Thursday, the team chose to buy out the final year of Beauchemin's $4.5 million US annual contract, otherwise the Avalanche would have had to convince either Johnson or Beauchemin to waive their NMC or choose the second option.

Which players are exempt?

Prospects: All players with less than three years of professional experience are automatically exempt. That means young stars like Edmonton's Connor McDavid and Toronto's Auston Matthews don't need to be protected to remain with their teams. This provision also includes unsigned draft picks and signed players that have yet to appear in a NHL game. A year of professional experience is 10 pro games played under an NHL contract, including regular season and playoffs.

Injured players: Players with potential career-ending injuries that have missed more than the previous 60 consecutive games, including Arizona's Dave Bolland, Detroit's Johan Franzen, Pittsburgh's Pascal Dupuis and Toronto's Nathan Horton, among others.

Golden Knights majority owner Bill Foley, left, and general manager George McPhee hope to be all smiles after submitting their 30-player roster to the NHL on June 20. The league will announce the expansion draft results the following evening at its awards ceremony in Las Vegas.

Who must the other 30 teams expose?

Teams must expose a minimum of two forwards under contract for next season who have played either 40-plus games this past season or 70-plus contests between the 2015-16 and 2016-17 campaigns.

At least one defenceman will need to be made available that meets the same restrictions as forwards

As for goalies, each team will have to expose at least one under contract for next season, or a qualified restricted free agent. There are no minimum games played restrictions for goaltenders.

Can the Golden Knights make side deals?

Yes. You will likely hear of such moves, with other teams wanting Vegas to take or not take certain players in the expansion draft. While these deals need to be above-board and all terms filed with the league, they don't need to be made public.

Can McPhee make trades?

The Golden Knights are allowed to deal any player selected in the expansion draft. However, they can't return such a player to the team from which he was selected until Jan. 1, 2018.


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