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Expansion Could Impact Wild's Future Roster

by Evan Sporer / Minnesota Wild

Though General Manager Chuck Fletcher said it's too early for the Minnesota Wild to be focused on NHL expansion, the questions were still posed to him on Monday.

A formal announcement is expected to come this week from the league on whether it will add a 31st franchise, which would likely begin play in the 2017-18 season.

"Certainly if expansion comes into play, which I assume it will this week — I assume we'll get an official announcement this week — and if it is, once we get the official expansion draft rules, we'll deal with it," Fletcher said. "Our focus is first and foremost on icing the best team we can this year."

Where that focus would turn to is on how an expansion draft could impact the Wild's roster.

Like an expansion announcement, there has been no official word from the NHL on what an expansion draft would look like.

The two models that have been primarily thrown around allow teams to protect either seven forwards, three defensemen, and a goaltender, or any eight skaters and a goaltender.

These models also predict that players with no-movement clauses in their contracts would automatically be protected, and also count against a team's total.

"From the rules that I've read, and again, we'll get the official rules this week assuming everything comes into play, the system is set up where you're going to lose a good player," Fletcher said. "You're not going to be able to trade every single asset away."

While Fletcher said he and his staff are still waiting on a formal announcement, he said teams around the league have had discussions based on the parameters that have been rumored for an expansion draft.

Should a formal announcement be made, and Fletcher said teams would begin to prepare their rosters for what's to come.

"We’ll be resigned to losing a good player," Fletcher said. "We’ll do the best we can (to prepare), but there will be 29 other teams with similar issues."

Fletcher said the expansion draft models being thrown around would set up the new franchise to be relatively competitive right away, " … compared to what Minnesota, and Nashville, and Columbus, those franchises (had available in their expansion drafts). That's probably what the league wants if they do expand. You want that team to be competitive."

He also said, without knowing if the new franchise would have to meet a salary cap floor in terms of the players it drafted, it would be tough to predict whether it could just pursue younger players, or draft a more veteran roster.

"Certainly young players are a great commodity in today's game," he said. "Players have the possibility to become free agents at 27, or in the case of Steven Stamkos, even younger than 27.

"The way the rules are set up, I know looking at our club, if you can only protect seven (forwards) and three (defenseman), we're going to have four or five very good players available. You can't trade them all."

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