Skip to main content
The Official Site of the Vegas Golden Knights

Expansion Draft Primer: What Positions Do We Select?

Of Vegas' 30 picks in the Expansion Draft, the team is mandated to select a certain amount of players from every position

by Dan Marrazza @GoldenKnights /

When hockey teams conduct drafts, the modus operandi is more often than not to select the best player available, regardless of position.

Where even if a team is badly in need of a goaltender, for example, it probably won't select a goaltender in the NHL Entry Draft if a center who they feel is better than the goaltender is available.

The logic is that the makeup of NHL rosters is so fluid from season to season that it doesn't make sense to select a prospect to fill a positional need, when by the time that player blossoms, the team's positional needs will have already changed.

There's also the rationale that if an organization routinely looks past superior talent in an attempt to address a certain position need, it will significantly lower the aggregate value of a team's assets in the long term. Especially when teams can also more immediately address positional needs via trades or free agency.

Of course, the NHL Expansion Draft is a little different than the Entry Draft.


RELATED: Expansion Draft Primer: Who can other teams protect? 


Video: A look inside the Golden Knights' practice facility


Where in the Entry Draft, teams select players that may not play at the NHL level for 3-4 years, the Golden Knights will have to entirely stock a roster this summer.

So while our team will also be participating in the Entry Draft on June 23-24 and be selecting prospects, we will be selecting 30 active players in the Expansion Draft on June 21 first. 

The difference between the two drafts the Golden Knights are participating in is that in the Entry Draft, we can take draft whatever players we want, regardless of position.

In the NHL Expansion Draft, however, there are certain guidelines on how many players we can take at each position.

Here is the breakdown of what amount of players we are obligated to select at each position.

Goaltenders: 3

Of the Golden Knights' 30 Expansion Draft picks, we are required to select three goaltenders.

NHL teams generally carry two goaltenders on their roster, meaning that if we select three goalies, we will be choosing one "extra goalie."

The extra goalie may play in the minor leagues and be available to us should one of our other goalies get injured. He may also become a piece that we will be able to use in a trade to acquire a player of a different position.

The bottom line is that NHL teams carry two goalies on their rosters, and Vegas must take three goalies in the Expansion Draft.



Video: The D is the official downtown casino of the VGK 


Defensemen: 9

In a typical game, NHL teams dress six defensemen, who are usually partnered into three groups of two. 

With two defensemen being allowed on the ice at a time, this allows partners to continue to play with their same partner throughout a game, and if things go well enough, perhaps even throughout an entire season.

Although if things don't go as planned, defensemen can be separated and given a new partner several times during a game.

At the end of the day, however, the math comes down to teams dressing six defensemen, and usually carrying seven on their roster.

In the Expansion Draft, nine of the Golden Knights selections have to be defensemen.

This would result in seven of those nine being part of our NHL roster, and two either playing in the minor leagues or being traded.

But with the possibility of the team acquiring additional (better) defensemen via free agency, that could push additional defensemen that we take in the Expansion Draft to the minor leagues.

Either way, Vegas must select nine defensemen in the Expansion Draft, and we will normally dress six defensemen per game.


 Video: Gary Lawless interviews fans about the Golden Knights


Forwards: 14

The consensus among experts is that quality forwards with be the rarest commodity in this year's Expansion Draft, which makes it fitting that we have to allot more of our picks to forwards than any other position.

Eighteen of our 30 Expansion Draft selections must be forwards, although it doesn't matter how many of these 14 are centers, how many are left wings or how many are right wings.

NHL teams tend to dress 12 forwards per game - four centers, four left wings and four right wings.

Under ideal circumstances, each center stays with the same left wing and right wing throughout a game, if not an extended portion of a season.

This allows offensive-minded players to play together and generate more scoring chances, or perhaps three more defensive-minded forwards to be partnered together on the same line and used in defensive situations.

Although we may acquire forwards from other avenues - trades, free agent signings - we are absolutely required to select 14 forwards in the Expansion Draft.

In a typical game, we will have 12 forwards in our lineup.


 Video: Coach Gallant visits T-Mobile Arena for first time


Any Position (4 Players)

If the Golden Knights select three goalies, nine defensemen and 14 forwards, as the Expansion Draft rules dictate, that adds up to 26 players.

We will, of course, be taking 30 players in the Expansion Draft.

The team is flexible to use its remaining four picks on whatever remaining non-protected players it chooses.

View More