Ready or not, the NHL will be rolling the dice on an expansion team in Las Vegas in 2017-18, according to multiple reports. And that means someone from the Capitals’ current roster will be packing his bags for Vegas this time next year.
Under the expansion draft rules that will be announced next week following the NHL Board of Governors meetings in Las Vegas, each of the NHL’s 30 existing teams will be allowed to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender in next year’s expansion draft, which is likely to take place shortly after the conclusion of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final.
Teams will be required to protect any players with No Movement Clauses (NMC) and those players will count against the 11 players on the protected list – unless they are pending unrestricted free agents, in which case they do not need to be protected.
Teams may also ask players to waive their No Movement Clauses to allow them to be taken by the Vegas expansion team.
Teams will be required to offer at least one defenseman and two forwards who are under contract for the 2017-18 season and have played a minimum of 40 NHL games in the 2016-17 season, or at least 70 games between the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons.
Teams will also have to offer a goaltender who is under contract for the 2017-18 season or a player who will be an RFA in 2018.
In the case of the Capitals, here is a list of players likely to be protected and those likely to be exposed:
PROTECTED FORWARDS (7)
Alex Ovechkin (NMC)
Nicklas Backstrom (NMC)
Marcus Johansson (if he’s re-signed)
Tom Wilson (if he’s re-signed)
Jay Beagle (or a player acquired by Caps this summer)
PROTECTED DEFENSEMEN (3)
Matt Niskanen (NMC)
Karl Alzner (if he’s re-signed)
PROTECTED GOALTENDER (1)
Braden Holtby (NMC begins 2017-18)
T.J. Oshie (pending UFA)
Justin Williams (pending UFA)
Daniel Winnik (pending UFA)
Jason Chimera (if he’s re-signed this summer)
Michael Latta (if he’s re-signed this summer)
Dmitry Orlov (if he’s re-signed)
Nate Schmidt (if he’s re-signed0
To guard against the Las Vegas expansion team “borrowing” players from other NHL teams, players taken in the expansion draft cannot be traded to their previous team until Jan. 1, 2018. Also, players taken in the expansion draft cannot be bought out until after the 2017-18 season.
Finally, Las Vegas will be guaranteed a spot in each of the four lottery drafts from 2017-20 to allow a quick build rather than a team of re-treads.
There has been speculation the Las Vegas franchise will be named the Black Knights, since its billionaire owner Bill Foley is a West Point grad. Foley has put down a $2 million deposit as part of his expansion bid and simply needs to come up with another $498 million to reach the NHL’s $500 million expansion fee.
If that sounds like a lot of money, consider that when the NHL last expanded in 2000, the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets paid $80 million to join the league.
The Wild reached the playoffs in their third season and went all the way to the conference finals. The Blue Jackets missed the playoffs seven straight seasons and have won just two playoff games in their 15-season history.
The new Vegas team will play in the new T-Mobile Arena, located on the south end of the Las Vegas Strip. About 13,200 season tickets have been sold for the 17,500-seat arena, which was built by MGM Resorts International and Anschutz Entertainment Group, owners of the Los Angeles Kings.
As for Quebec City, it appears the sagging Canadian dollar, which now sits at 78 cents next to the U.S. dollar, was enough to delay the NHL from the city a franchise.
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