The upcoming NHL Expansion Draft has been one of the off-season's great unknowns, but as of today and over the next few, the picture is about to get a whole lot clearer for the 31 franchises now involved.
The newly minted Vegas Golden Knights will select 30 players during Wednesday's draft, one from each of the existing teams. Clubs have the option of protecting either seven forwards, three defencemen and one goaltender, or any combinations of eight skaters (forwards and defenceman), and one goaltender.
"The hardest part is trying to figure out, not only your own [priorities], but trying to figure out the jockeying that goes around the league with respect to the other teams," General Manager Kevin Cheveldayoff said back on Apr. 10 during a year-end press conference.
In addition to the above criteria, teams are required to expose at least one defenceman and two forwards with 40 or more games played this past year, or 70-plus over the past two seasons combined.
Unsigned draft picks and all first and second-year pros are automatically exempt and do not count toward the protection limits.
- Patrik Laine, Nikolaj Ehlers, Josh Morrissey, Nic Petan, Kyle Connor, Jack Roslovic, Brandon Tanev, Brenden Lemieux, Chase De Leo, Logan Stanley, Nelson Nogier, Jimmy Lodge, Jan Kostalek, Tucker Poolman, Jansen Harkins, Jamie Phillips and Eric Comrie.
Players with no-movement clauses are automatically protected as well, but do count toward the protections limits unless the player(s) chooses to waive that clause.
Toby Enstrom and Dustin Byfuglien are the Jets' only two players that have no-movement clauses in their contracts. If either of these two players or anyone else around the league was asked to waive, the player was required to by this past Friday.
Cheveldayoff said that asking a player to waive was "not off limits" for the organization.
The players that finished the year on Winnipeg's playing roster that can either be protected or exposed are:
- Forwards: Adam Lowry, Andrew Copp (RFA), Blake Wheeler, Bryan Little, Mark Scheifele, Joel Armia, Marko Dano, Mathieu Perreault, and Shawn Matthias.
- Defencemen: Tyler Myers, Jacob Trouba, Ben Chiarot (RFA) and Mark Stuart.
- Goaltenders: Connor Hellebuyck and Michael Hutchinson
The protected lists must be submitted by Saturday, Jun. 17 at 4:00pm CT. Two hours earlier at 2:00pm that same day, a trade and waiver freeze will go into effect and it won't be lifted until Thursday, Jun. 22, after Vegas' picks are unveiled.
The Golden Knights cannot select more than one player from each team, and must assemble a roster of 14 forwards, nine defencemen and three goalies.
While Cheveldayoff, Assistant General Managers Larry Simmons and Craig Heisinger, along with the pro scouting staff have assuredly worked through and prepared for all possible scenarios over the last few months, Head Coach Paul Maurice joked back on Apr. 10 that he already had his list done, but will not be heavily involved in the day-to-day due diligence leading up.
"At the end of it, the list will be populated by Kevin. There might be a line at some point where you need to decide on a player, and what's where I would weigh in," he said.
The protected lists will be publicly available beginning at 9:00am CT on Sunday, Jun. 18.
"When you look at what Vegas has to do, and there are parameters of what they have to pick and what they're allowed to pick, you try to do some prognosticating of your own [of] who those players might be," Cheveldayoff said. "We have done and will continue to do several mock drafts and … I think you'll see as teams get eliminated throughout the playoffs there will be more conversations, not only with Vegas, but side to side with different teams with different opportunities. It could lead to some changes but hopefully, for us, we'll find that right mixture that we're comfortable with."
The Expansion Draft will be held on this Wednesday, Jun. 21, just days before the annual Entry Draft.