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Hopeful Envy: Following the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft

Sonics Rising will live vicariously through fans of the Vegas Golden Knights as they navigate the 2017 expansion draft.

Las Vegas NHL Franchise Reveals Team Name And Logo Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

We don’t have an approved arena in Seattle yet, we can’t apply for NHL expansion yet, and we don’t have a guarantee that either will happen.

But we can dream. We can hope. We can wonder what life will be like if OVG’s arena is approved, if construction begins, and if moguls Jerry Bruckheimer and David Bonderman get a green light from the league to pursue a franchise.

So we’re going to give you a chance over the next ten days to live vicariously through fans of the newly minted Vegas Golden Knights as they navigate the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. It’s not as creepy as it sounds, and there is a legit reason - this could be us in a few years.

We will understand if you’re not ready, but the Hopeful Envy train is leaving the station for those who want to hop on board. Today we will cover the key dates and the rules. We will cover more as news happens.


Protecting Players

The entire idea of an expansion draft is to let an expansion franchise take players from existing teams. In the event that the Pittsburgh Penguins don’t want to let the Golden Knights have Sidney Crosby, however, the league allows every team to submit a list of players that can’t be drafted.

Franchises can choose to protect either nine players or eleven. Why wouldn’t they choose to protect eleven? Because they would lose flexibility in protecting specific positions. Teams that protect eleven players must protect seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goaltender. Teams that protect only nine can protect eight skaters, distributed between forwards and defensemen however they choose, and one goalie. This flexibility can be important because players with “no movement” clauses are automatically included on the protection list.

First and second year players are automatically excluded from being drafted, and do not count against the list.

Exposing Players

Choosing which players to protect is influenced by the rules the categories of players that must be exposed.

Existing franchises must expose the following:

  • At least one defenseman who is under contract for the coming season, and either played 40 plus games last season or 70 plus games over the last two seasons.
  • Two forwards who are under contract for the coming season, and either played 40 plus games last season or 70 plus games over the last two seasons.
  • One goaltender who is either a restricted free agent or under contract for the coming season. That goaltender who is a restricted free agent must have already received his qualifying offer when the club’s protected list is submitted.

A franchise can’t satisfy player exposure requirements with a player who has a potential career-ending injury and who has missed more than the previous 60 consecutive games. Those players may be deemed exempt from the draft by the league.

Selecting Players

The Vegas Golden Knights must select...

  • 30 players
  • One player from each existing franchise
  • 14 forwards
  • Nine defensemen
  • Three goalies
  • A minimum of 20 players under contract for the coming season
  • Players with an aggregate salary value of at least 60% of the prior season’s salary cap

Vegas may not buy out any players selected in this draft until the conclusion of next season.


Pat Iversen, of the SBNation mother ship, reports the following schedule:

Monday, June 12: the last day for teams to ask players with no-movement clauses to waive them.

Friday, June 16: Players have until 5 p.m. to waive their expansion draft protections if they qualify. More on that in a bit.

By 5 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 17, 2017, all 30 NHL franchises are required to submit their list of protected players. The entire league will be under a roster freeze. No trades. No waivers. No nothing.

Sunday, June 18: Expansion protected lists are sent out to every team, and the Golden Knights get to interview players they might want to select.

By 10 a.m. ET on June 21, the Golden Knights must submit the list of players it has selected.

On June 21, the NHL will announce those selections at the NHL Awards.