Las Vegas Golden Knights set to enter league play. Here is how it affects the NHL.

The NHL recently released some information regarding the NHL Expansion Draft that is coming up on June 20. This is when the Las Vegas Golden Knights will begin to fill out their roster in preparation for entering the league for their first season.

To the common fan, this could seem like the Golden Knights have a free-for-all to pick players from their favorite team. This is pretty far from the truth. While Vegas is allowed one player from each team, there are some exceptions to this rule.

Teams have until 5 p.m. ET on June 17 to submit their list of protected players. Vegas will have until 5 p.m. on June 20 to submit their “draft choices”. This isn’t a televised event like the yearly NHL draft. The announcements of Vegas’s selections will be made to the public on the following day.

NHL teams are required to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and a goaltender, OR eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and a goalkeeper. Players with a “no movement” clause MUST be protected and will be included in that count. Players will be allowed to waive this clause as well.

There are some exemptions to this. First and second-year players are exempt from being drafted, as will unsigned drafted players. These players will not count towards a team’s protected list.

Players who have injuries that are deemed “potential career ending” are exempt from selection by Vegas as well. The league defines a potential career ending injury as missing 60 consecutive games or otherwise deemed by the league. They may not be included in a team’s exposure list, nor will they count towards the team’s protected list.

There are requirements for exposure.

One defenseman who is under contract in 2017–18 and played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season. The player may have played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons. Two forwards must satisfy these requirements as well.

One goaltender is under contract in 2017–18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract. In regards to RFA goaltenders, the player must have been offered tender prior to the submission list being submitted.

Those were all the rules for teams submitting protected lists. There are rules Vegas will have to follow as well.

They will have to choose one player from the other 30 teams. The drafted players must consist of 14 forwards, nine defensemen, and three goalkeepers.

The selected players may not be bought out until the summer following their first season. In other words, players may only be traded until summer ’18. 20 of the selected players must be under contract for the 2017–2018 season. Thus, Vegas may only select a maximum of 10 upcoming free agents.

This is expected to be a fairly transparent process. The league will publicly release each team’s protected list. This is an exciting move and was discussed at this month’s owners meetings.

This is league deputy commissioner, Bill Daly had to say regarding the announcement:

After a lot of internal discussion following the General Managers meeting (March 6–8), we determined it would be best to disclose those lists publicly. One of our guiding principles from the start of this process was to prioritize transparency, and certainly here, keeping the lists private would not have promoted that particular objective.

While no definite date of release has been announced, but the league expects it to be made available at the same time the teams receive the official list on June 18.

Following the expansion draft will be the full 2017 NHL Draft on June 23–24. Las Vegas will be treated as a team that finished with the third-fewest points in the league in 2016–2017. What this means is that in the first round they are guaranteed a top six draft pick, and will pick third in the following rounds.

The Las Vegas Golden Knights will enter play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference. The schedule format will remain the same for the 2017–2018 season, 41 home games and 41 road games.

Here is how the schedule will change for the 2018–2019 season and beyond:

Eastern Conference (16 teams) games:

Same Division: 28 games. Seven teams with two home and two away.

Different Division: 24 games. Four teams will be played with two at home and one on the road. Four more teams will be played with one at home and two on the road.

Vs Western conference: 30 games, evenly split between home and away.

Western Conference Central Division (seven teams):

Divisional games: 26 games. Four teams will meet two home and two away. One team will have three home and two away. While one more team will have two home and three away. 4 x 4 =16, 1 x 5 = 5, 1 x 5 = 5. 16 + 5+5 = 26. That’s how the math of this works.

Conference games: 24 games. Four teams will be played with two at home and one on the road. Four more teams will be played with one at home and two on the road.

Non-conference games: 32 games. These will be split evenly, 16 home and 16 away.

Western Conference Pacific Division (eight teams):

Divisional games: 29 games. Six teams will play two home and two away. One team will play three home and two away.

Conference games: 21 games. Three teams will play two home and one away, and three teams will play one home and two away.

Non-Conference games: 32 games. 16 home and 16 away.

These schedule changes will ensure that teams will play at least one game in every NHL stadium. Again this won’t take place until the 2018–2019 season.

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