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November 9, 2016 | 11:25am ET
Vegas, baby!
Everything you need to know about the expansion draft and what to expect from Vegas Hockey.
By Hannah Spraker

ANAHEIM, CA -- Sin City gains a Sin Bin, and I could not think of a better city for the NHL to expand to. Las Vegas is full of excitement, energy and so many eager fans. The first expansion since 2000, and the Vegas community has been even more receptive than expected.

The #vegaswantshockey movement swiftly turned to #vegasishockey after the June 22 announcement by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman. Not only that, but season ticket holder deposits reached nearly 15,000 after the official announcement.

T-Mobile Arena is completed and a gorgeous venue placed right between the New York New York and Monte Carlo hotels. Fans flocked to Las Vegas for Frozen Fury in October to witness the Los Angeles Kings play the Dallas Stars. The home ice of the new franchise is currently being used for miscellaneous events and concerts.

This Las Vegas Hockey Club, owned by Bill Foley, has been having some trademark issues when it comes to settling on a name, but we can expect an official announcement on November 22.

The expansion draft will be here before you know it, and every hockey fan in wondering which players will be protected and which are heading to Sin City. Before you hit the panic button on your favorite player, I offer a rundown of how things are expected to go down.

What are the Expansion Rules?

Contracts, no-trade clauses, no-movement clauses, drafts, experience, it can all get confusing. Here's what you need to know:

What Vegas Needs to do:

  • The team must select 1 player from each of the 30 teams
  • Minimum of 14 forwards, 9 defensemen, and 3 goaltenders
  • Minimum of 20 players under contract through 2017-18
  • The players must account for 60-100% of the salary cap
  • No buyouts until after their first season is complete

What all other NHL teams must do:

These teams have one of two options:

1. Protect 7 forwards, 3 defense, and one goaltender
2. Protect 8 skaters, either forwards or defense, and one goaltender


What about players with a NMC?

Players with a no-movement clause must be protected, unless the player agrees to waive their NMC.

These players must count against the quota.

What about young guns?

  • Unsigned draft picks are not eligible
  • Players who are in their first or second year in the NHL are not eligible

BUT, these younger guys do not count against the quota

Who else is not eligible?

  • Players with possible career ending injuries. Basically players who have missed 60+ consecutive games due to injury
  • Pending UFAs for 2017-2018

Fine print: ***Vegas will be given a 48 hour window to talk to pending free agents if they are not yet signed by June 17th. IF a free agent decides to sign with Las Vegas, then Vegas will not select a player from the team that the free agent came from.***

So who qualifies for draft exposure from each team?

Two Forwards & 1 Defensemen, who are under contract through 2017-18 season, and played 40+ games last season OR a total of 70+ games in the past two seasons.

One Goaltender, who is under contract through 2017-18 season OR will be an RFA prior to the 2017-18 season.

If teams do not meet these requirements, there will be penalties, perhaps loss of draft picks.

When is this all going down?

All teams must give their list of protected players by June 17, 2017.

Vegas must give a list of selected players by June 20, 2017.

Official announcement of the Vegas roster will follow on June 21, 2017.

Why all of the rules?

The NHL wants Vegas to be a competitive team right off the bat. Limiting rookies and limiting UFAs is going to help Vegas have the most competitive team possible without causing too much disruption league-wide.

What about the NHL Draft?

Glad you asked... the Vegas team will go into the draft lottery with the odds of the team that finishes 3rd to last in points.

As a result, they will have a guarantee of no lower than a No.6 pick in the first round, and third pick each of the following rounds.

Vegas, show me what you’ve got

George McPhee, former GM of the Washington Capitals, was named the first General Manager of this Las Vegas hockey club.

Now, to understand what kind of team we might see out of Vegas we need to take a look into what kind of GM McPhee is, and how he builds his teams.

McPhee spent 17 seasons as GM of the Capitals, longer than any other GM in Capitals history. He was fired after the 2013-14 season and spent his time since then in New York where last season he worked as Senior Advisor of the Islanders.

Under McPhee, the Caps never won a Stanley Cup and while his methods may have caused him his job, maybe it was just the timing.

There is no doubt that the game is changing. We hear this almost daily. The game is getting much faster and the tempo has picked up rapidly. We've seen Connor McDavid named the youngest Captain in NHL history at 19. We are seeing more rookies on top lines than ever before, and these kids are rapidly becoming core players.

The NHL has changed, and while some teams are struggling to adjust, others are ahead of the curve, bringing an explosive game with incredible speed, skill, and grit.

McPhee really put an emphasis on building a roster that was fast and could out-skate the opposing team when he was with the Caps. When he deviated from this signature style, it cost him his job. No doubt he will be taking what he learned in his time with the Caps and applying it to building a stellar hockey club in Las Vegas.

Expansion Draft Exposure

Keeping in mind that teams are going to bend over backwards to keep their best players, here are some eligible players who may be attractive for the 2017 Vegas expansion draft:

Josh Manson - Anaheim Ducks
Benoit Pouliot - Edmonton Oilers
Jack Johnson - Columbus Blue Jackets
Rick Nash - New York Rangers
Colin Wilson - Nashville Predators
Alec Martinez - Los Angeles Kings
Philipp Grubauer - Washington Capitals
Malcolm Subban - Boston Bruins

McPhee is a GM who is a win-now kind of guy. He does not want to waste any time. While he will be looking to the expansion draft for key players, the NHL Draft will be just as important, if not more.

McPhee has done exceptionally well when it comes to first round draft picks:

Alexander Ovechkin - 2004
Nicklas Backstrom - 2006
Semyon Varlamov - 2006
Karl Alzner - 2007
Marcus Johansson - 2009
Evgeny Kusnetsov - 2010
Filip Forsberg - 2012
Tom Wilson - 2012


If you've been keeping up with current prospects, you know that Nolan Patrick will be the first to go in the 2017 Draft, but who are the other front runners? It still may be too early to tell, but for the 2015-16 season:

  • Kailer Yamamoto (C/LW) had 19 goals and 52 assists in 57 games with the Spokane Chiefs
  • Gabriel Vilardi (C) had 17 goals and 21 assists in 62 games with the Windsor Spitfires
  • Maxime Comtois (LW) had 26 goals and 34 assists in 62 games with the Victoriaville Tigres
  • Eeli Tolvanen (LW) had 17 goals and 21 assists in 49 games with the Sioux City Musketeers
  • Callan Foote (D) had 8 goals and 28 assists with the Kelowna Rockets

As if you needed another excuse to go to Vegas...

If there's one thing we can expect from this team it's a competitive lineup with a considerable amount of speed and some promising prospects.

I don't know about you, but I'm willing to bet that next season's Vegas team will have the best home record in the NHL.

Hannah Spraker is the Anaheim Correspondent and a Columnist for The Fourth Period. Be sure to follow her on Twitter.




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