The NHL expansion draft will be a made-for-TV even on Wednesday, June 21. But as you’d imagine, there will be a lot of paperwork to be filed and deadlines to be met before the initial Las Vegas Golden Knights roster is announced.
The rumors of how teams will work with Vegas to lose the right players from their rosters have begun.
The rules have been known for a while, though here’s a brief refresher on the key points:
- Teams can protect 7 forwards, 3 defensemen and 1 goalie, or 1 goalie and any combo of 8 skaters.
- Players with no-move clauses must be protected (e.g. Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy)
- Players with less than two years pro experience are exempt (so Josh Ho-Sang is in the clear, but Ryan Pulock must either be protected or exposed)
- (There are other rules about exposing at least one defenseman and one forward signed through 2017-18 with a minimum games played, but that doesn’t affect the Islanders’ choices, really, since their roster is teeming with signed players)
- Vegas must select 30 players (1 from each team), including at least 20 who are under contract for 2017-18. (Again, the Isles are filled with signed players, so that last part doesn’t affect them much.)
Key Dates and Deadline
Now to when decisions must be made:
Monday, June 12: Deadline at 5 p.m. ET for teams to request players waive “no move” clauses. (e.g. If the Islanders wanted to ask Boychuk to waive his no-move clause so that they could leave him unprotected, reasoning that Vegas wouldn’t want his long-term contract. It’s doubtful they’ll do that; there are internal pitfalls with messing around with broken promises.) NOTE: The player doesn’t have to decide until Friday.
Thursday, June 15: First Buy-Out Period opens. This is of particular relevance if a team has a player who won’t waive his no-move clause for the expansion draft. They can begin the process of buying him out here — thus removing the requirement to protect him — and on this day they must also ask whether he wants to be placed on waivers for purposes of buyout, meaning another team could (theoretically, but not likely) claim him and his contract.
Friday, June 16: Players Waive or Don’t Waive. Remember that deadline Monday for requesting a player waive his no move clause? This is the last day in which a player can say, “sure, I’ll take my chances for the good of the roster.”
This is also the last day to place any player on waivers prior to the expansion draft.
Saturday, June 17: Protection Day After 3 p.m. ET on this day, NO MORE MOVES ALLOWED (including contract extensions, re-signings, etc.). That’s because at 5 p.m. on this day, all teams must submit their protected player list to the NHL and NHLPA.
Sunday, June 18: Let’s Talk Vegas Day. Central Registry has to approve the protected lists received the night before, but more importantly, this day is the beginning of the window for Vegas to talk to restricted free agents (like Calvin de Haan, if the Isles leave him unprotected) and unrestricted free agents (like...uh, J-F Berube).
UPDATE after reader questions: To be clear, RFAs like de Haan can only negotiate with Vegas during this window if their teams leave them unprotected.
Wednesday, June 21: OMG It’s Happening! So this will be interesting: The expansion draft selections will be announced that night, but Vegas has to turn its selections in to the NHL and NHLPA by 10 a.m. ET. That means a very high likelihood of leaks between morning and evening. Players who are informed they have been Knighted may let word slip, or their suddenly-looking-for-work housekeepers will leak it.
Also at 10 a.m. that morning, Vegas has to announce any signings of any available (i.e. unprotected) RFAs. If they do so, that counts as their expansion draft pick from that club. (e.g. Vegas could sign Calvin de Haan — edit: if he’s unprotected — and thus the Islanders would lose him without the traditional RFA compensation, but that would be their only expansion draft loss.)
Thursday, June 22: Back to normal! All trade/waiver/everything freezes are lifted. Presumably some more trades are consummated or at least discussed as teams adjust to post-expansion draft reality. But basically it’s back to the normal calendar as everyone focuses on the draft that weekend.