2017 NHL Expansion Draft: Rules and How It Works

Tim Daniels@TimDanielsBRFeatured ColumnistJune 12, 2017

LAS VEGAS, NV - NOVEMBER 22:  The team logo for the Vegas Golden Knights is displayed on T-Mobile Arena's video mesh wall after being announced as the name for the Las Vegas NHL franchise at T-Mobile Arena on November 22, 2016 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The team will begin play in the 2017-18 season.  (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The National Hockey League will hold an expansion draft beginning June 18 to give the Vegas Golden Knights, the NHL's 31st franchise, their first full roster. All 30 selections—one pick from each of the current teams—will be announced at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas on June 21.

Vegas was already included in the lottery for the 2017 NHL draft. The Golden Knights, who were given the same odds to win the No. 1 pick as the Arizona Coyotes, the team with the third-worst record, didn't obtain a top-three selection and will draft from the No. 6 spot in Chicago on June 23.

Let's check out some of the key rules for the upcoming draft from the perspective of both Vegas and the league's other organizations. For a complete list of guidelines, visit the NHL's official website.



Vegas Selection Rules

  • The Golden Knights must choose a minimum of 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders. The other four selections can come from any position.
  • At least 20 of Vegas' 30 picks must be under an active contract for the 2017-18 season.
  • The overall salary of the team's picks must land between 60 percent ($43.8 million) and 100 percent of last season's $73 million salary cap.


Player-Protection Rules

  • All players with no-movement clauses in their current contract must be protected and count toward the team's final total.
  • All pro players with two or fewer years of NHL experience and unsigned draft picks are protected, but don't count toward the team's final total.
  • After that, each team can choose one of two forms of protection: seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender OR eight total skaters (forwards plus defensemen) and one goaltender.
  • All teams must expose at least two forwards and one defenseman with at least 40 games played last season or 70 games the previous two years and remain under contract for next season.
  • The goaltender made available must be under contract for next season or a restricted free agent with a qualifying offer already in place.


Additional Information

  • The NHL announced the Golden Knights will be given the complete list of protected players June 18 at 10 a.m. They must provide the league with their entire 30-player group of expansion choices 72 hours later (10 a.m. on June 21) ahead of the awards show.
  • The league is also giving Vegas a chance to sign any free agents, both restricted and unrestricted, who are left unprotected during that same time frame. A signing would equal a "pick" from the player's previous team. Otherwise, those players will follow standard protocol and enter the free-agent market July 1.
  • The 2017 NHL Awards show will air on the NBC Sports Network at 8 p.m. ET on June 21 from T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. It hasn't been confirmed whether the expansion picks will be announced all at once or periodically throughout the event.