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Expansion Draft Primer: What's Exclusive Free Agency?

Exclusive free agent negotiation, extra time to make Expansion Draft choices possible for June

by Dan Marrazza @GoldenKnights / VegasGoldenKnights.com

The last two weeks of June are shaping up to be a doozy for the Golden Knights.

June 18-20: The Golden Knights are expected to receive other teams' protected lists and be able to begin choosing players in the Expansion Draft.

June 21: All 30 of Vegas' Expansion Draft selections will be announced.

June 23-24: The Golden Knights will participate in the team's first Entry Draft.

Factoring in that NHL free agency will then begin on July 1, the early part of this summer is shaping up as one of the most consequential time periods in franchise history.

Exiting early March's general manager meetings in Boca Raton, Fla., George McPhee was able to provide some clarity on how the week prior to this onslaught is also shaping up to be significant for the Golden Knights.

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Exclusive Free Agency

If this isn't a term you're already familiar with, it'll be one that will increasingly become part of the Vegas hockey conversation as summer approaches.

In typical summers, NHL free agency begins on July 1.

This means that from the conclusion of the season until July 1, the only team that players have the ability to sign with is their current club. On July 1, however, the NHL's fiscal calendar turns over, and players whose contracts have expired are now up for grabs for every team in the league.

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Similarly, if a player is on part of a two-year contract, for example, July 1 is when the first year of his contract would officially cross over into its second year.

We now know that the Golden Knights are expected to enter the NHL with exclusive free agency perks.

The team is expected to have an exclusive negotiating window with free agents during the expansion draft - that could potentially be 48 hrs. This would mean that before other teams can begin scooping up existing NHL players, Vegas would have the opportunity to get a head start.

During this two-day stretch, the only team that would be allowed to sign active NHL players is the Golden Knights.

The only catch is that if Vegas signed a player who most recently played for Team X, the Golden Knights would no longer be able to select a player from Team X in the Expansion Draft.

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For example, if the Golden Knights sign a player who skated for the Anaheim Ducks during the 2016-17 season, the Ducks would then be exempt from losing any additional players to Vegas in the Expansion Draft.

"We will have a window to talk to free agents," McPhee said "And we will talk to free agents to determine their interest level. At this point, it's hard to know if any free agents will be signed. There will have to be a meeting of the minds between both parties, to see if it's a nice fit. You don't know what will happen until you start making those calls."

After the team's exclusive window would expire, it would no longer be able to sign existing free agents until July 1, when the league's traditional signing period begins.

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An Extra Day For The Expansion Draft

As currently scheduled, the Golden Knights will receive other teams' protected lists two days before having to announce the team's selections on June 21.

McPhee confirmed that he has engaged the league about expanding the amount of time his staff will have to make its Expansion Draft decisions.

"There has been some discussion with that," McPhee said. "We raised the issue because all other (1990s) expansion teams had 3-5 days (notice) before the Expansion Draft. And currently, we have two. We've asked the league if they could consider expanding that time for us.

"We'll take as much time as we can get, but certainly, three days would help."

This will be an issue we will provide more information about as it becomes available throughout the spring. 

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