The NHL is set to have their first expansion draft in 17 years Wednesday night as the Las Vegas Golden Knights get ready for their first season by selecting 30 players. The 30 players the Golden Knights decide to choose will come from a list of players that the other teams in the NHL left unprotected. Each team had the option to protect seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters and one goalie. The teams submitted their lists to the National Hockey League this weekend and those lists were made available to the public on Sunday.
The Golden Knights now have until 10:00 am (EST) Wednesday morning to submit their expansion selections to the league’s front office. Their selections will be revealed to the public later Wednesday night at the 2017 NHL Awards at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
Vegas must select 30 players, one from each contributing team. At the end of the draft the Golden Knights’ roster must consist of 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies. They also have to reach at least 60 percent of last year’s $73 million salary cap ($43.8 million) and have at least 20 players under contract for next season.
The Golden Knights are owned by Black Knight Sports & Entertainment, a consortium led by Bill Foley, the team will be a member of the Pacific Division of the Western Conference starting in the 2017-18 season.
According to several news outlets, the Golden Knights have been getting offers from several NHL teams asking them to stay away from certain players, and offering draft picks if they do. Per league rules, the Golden Knights only need to have 20 players under contract heading into next season. Rules of that nature will make it easier for the team to collect a cache of draft picks before they ever play a single game. The draft picks, of course, will set the table for the future of hockey in Vegas and should give the new franchise the opportunity to fill in holes they were not able to address otherwise.
The now released unprotected list has sent several experts into a frenzy trying to figure out just who exactly the Golden Knights will take. Several big names have come up in conversations, but it appears the teams who have unprotected players they still wish to keep are also willing to compensate Vegas to make sure they stay unclaimed. With the amount of talent left unprotected, that teams do not intend to compensate for, the Golden Knights should be able to piece together a very competitive team from the very start of the franchise.
[Featured Image by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]