NHL finalizes Vegas Golden Knights expansion draft Rules

The NHL will soon be holding its first expansion draft since June, 2000 when the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild entered the league. With the 2017 draft being just a couple of weeks away, now’s a good time to go over the rules as the league prepares to accommodate its newest franchise the Vegas Golden Knights. The expansion team has already been given the green light to sign non-NHL free agents and NHL players who are playing overseas and to start acquiring draft picks from other clubs, which is a distinct possibility due to the expansion draft coming up on June 21st.

During the draft, the Golden Knights will be allowed to choose one unprotected player from each of the other 30 NHL teams to build their roster. However, several teams may be inclined to persuade the league’s 31st franchise to leave specific unprotected players alone by sending them draft picks or future considerations. For example, a club may offer a third-round pick if the Golden Knights turn a blind eye on a specific player in the draft. This year’s expansion draft choices will be revealed to the public live on television on June 21st, which is the same night the annual NHL Awards show is held in Las Vegas.

However, Vegas will actually send their draft picks to the NHL earlier in the day as they need to be in by 10 a.m. The league also clarified a few other rules recently as it released a timeline of draft-related events. The NHL has imposed a player-movement freeze for the time the Golden Knights receive the protection lists from the other teams until after the draft picks have been announced. The only team allowed to sign players or make deals in this time period will be the Golden Knights themselves. The movement freeze includes player signings, waivers and trades.

In addition, clubs will be allowed to ask roster players to waive their no-movement clauses in their contracts if they have them. If a player agrees to waive the clause he could be left unprotected in the draft. Also, any player who waives the clause will have it reinstated after the draft. Teams have until 5 p.m. Eastern time on June 12th to ask players to waive these clauses, but Pittsburgh and Nashville will have until 24 hours after the Stanley Cup Final if it ends after June 12th. The latest the Final will end is June 14th.

Once June 15th arrives on the calendar, teams will be able to buy-out players if they choose. If a club wants to buy-out a player with a no-movement clause they must ask him if he would like to be placed on waivers before the contract is bought out. NHL clubs will have until lunchtime Eastern time on June 16th to place players on waivers. Also on this day, players who have been asked to waive no-movement clauses have to agree by 5 p.m. The no-movement clause for the other 30 teams comes into effect on June 17th and all clubs have to hand in their protection lists this day.

All NHL teams will receive a copy of the protection lists by 10 a.m. on June 18th and the Golden Knights will be allowed to speak to free agents the same day. The Vegas franchise will submit the list of 30 players chosen in the draft by 10 a.m. on June 21st and they’ll be announced that evening at the awards ceremony. The players no-movement freeze will then be lifted one June 22nd at 8 a.m. As far as the protected lists go, each team is allowed to protect one goalie, three defencemen and seven forwards or a goalie and eight skates at any position.

Players with no-movement clauses have to be protected unless they agree to waive them. Teams don’t have to protect first and second year pro players and any unsigned draft choices since they’re all exempt from the draft. The clubs need to leave a defenceman and two forwards unprotected who are under contract for next season and played in at least 40 NHL contests this year or 70 games in the past two campaigns. They must also leave a goalie unprotected who is a restricted free agent this summer or who is under contract for next season.


In addition, if a team elects to leave a free-agent goalie unprotected they must give him a qualifying offer before submitting their protected list. Also, players who have missed at least 60 straight games due to injury or have career-ending injuries, can’t be left unprotected. Those are the main points of the expansion draft and it’ll be interesting to see the new lineup of the Vegas Golden knights come the evening of June 21st.