The Vegas Golden Knights can officially begin acquiring assets and start the process of building the team that will begin play in the NHL next season.
Golden Knights owner Bill Foley has submitted the final payment of his expansion fee and completed the necessary paperwork to allow general manager George McPhee and his hockey operations staff to get to work as the League's 31st team, the NHL said Wednesday.
"On behalf of the Board of Governors, I am delighted to officially welcome the Vegas Golden Knights to the NHL," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. "Congratulations to Bill Foley, the Foley family, the Maloof family (founding partners), the city of Las Vegas and the Golden Knights' fans as the team embarks on its exciting journey."
Foley called it a "significant milestone in our team's history."
"The Vegas Golden Knights are officially a National Hockey League franchise," Foley said. "It is an incredibly exciting day for our organization, and we would not be here without the continued support from our fans. In February of 2015 we started our season-ticket drive. We asked Las Vegans to put ticket deposits down for a team that didn't exist in an arena (T-Mobile Arena) that hadn't been built and they came through in a big way. The progress we have made together in these last two short years is remarkable. Now that we are official, we look forward to continuing this momentum and building a team that our fans and our community will be proud of."
There are parameters on what the Golden Knights can do between now and the end of the NHL season based on the expansion rules set by the League.
They can make trades involving prospects and amateur draft picks. They also can sign eligible college free agents once they become available, junior players 20 and older, and free agents from European leagues.
The Golden Knights are not permitted to acquire a player with an active NHL contract until that player completes this season. They also will not be able to make agreements with teams to claim or not claim a player in the NHL Expansion Draft until the team they are negotiating with is done playing this season and the player is no longer eligible to play in the American Hockey League.
The expansion draft will take place from June 18-20 with Vegas' selections revealed on June 21.
The Golden Knights will be placed between the second- and third-to-last teams in the waiver priority order from today through Oct. 31.
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McPhee hesitated to say how active the Golden Knights will be between now and the expansion draft, when they have to take one player from each of the 30 NHL teams to fill a roster of at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies. Vegas must select a minimum of 20 players who have an existing contract for the 2017-18 season, and the total value of their picks must be at least 60 percent of this season's $73 million NHL salary cap ($43.8 million).
"We're active, but everything will happen around the expansion draft," McPhee said.
McPhee now can attend the NHL General Managers Meetings in Boca Raton, Florida, which begin Monday and run through Wednesday.
"It's important to know what is going on now and what may happen in the future," McPhee said.