The rumour mill is flying around the notion that the NHL may expand to Seattle for the 2014-15 season, and the assumption that to keep teams balanced they will also add a 32nd team (preferably in the West, but we still hear about the pipe dream of returning to Quebec or Hartford or adding a 2nd team in the Toronto/Hamilton/Markham area).
So while most of the discussion has been on where the new teams will wind up, it occurred to me that from a Pittsburgh Penguins standpoint it is more prudent to worry about who we will lost to the new teams in the Expansion Draft. There is no rule in the CBA to determine how an Expansion Draft is handled, the rules are all decided upon beforehand and have changed numerous times over the past few years. In looking over the past Expansion Drafts I also found out why people say Vokoun was drafted twice, as he was picked by the Montreal Canadiens in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft and then taken from them by the Nashville Predators in the 1998 NHL Expansion Draft. So looking up the different rules used in previous Expansion Drafts I have come up with the following likely rules for the theoretical 2014 NHL Expansion Draft.
From the early days of Expansion back in 1967 the existing teams were all allowed to name a certain amount of players that they would be protecting so that they were unavailable to be taken by the new expansion teams. In the early drafts there were a lot of sketchy moves made by the big money teams in order to protect more than their normal allotment of players, so over the years they have evolved and come up with new ways to try to keep teams from exploiting these loopholes. However, there are still trades made to protect players, such as teams that will trade a player or draft pick to another team in exchange for their word that they will not take a goaltender and/or a specific player from them.
If we look at the most recent Expansion Drafts (1993, 1998, 1999, and 2000) we see that the rules use for Protected Lists were nearly identical, and conveniently all took place in the Bettman Era, so with Gary Bettman still in charge we can expect a new Expansion Draft to follow similar rules. So here is what we have to work with:
- Each team may choose to protect either: 1 Goaltender, 5 Defensemen, and 9 Forwards OR 2 Goaltenders, 3 Defensemen, and 7 forwards.
- If a team chooses to protect 2 Goaltenders, the MUST offer 1 unprotected Goaltender that played a minimum of 10 NHL games in the previous season or 25 NHL games over the previous 2 seasons. Back in 1993 before they gave the option to protect 2 goaltenders all teams were required to offer up one that played a minimum number of NHL games.
- Each team must offer 1 unprotected Defensemen and 2 unprotected Forwards (it was 1 Forward prior to the 2000 Expansion Draft) that have played a minimum of 40 NHL games in the previous season or 70 games over the previous 2 seasons.
- First year and 2nd year pros (i.e. players with 2 seasons or less of combined NHL/AHL/ECHL/Euro experience) and Unsigned Draft Picks are automatically exempt from being selected in the Expansion Draft.
An interesting situation that arises that we were not faced with during the last Expansion Draft is players with No-Move and No-Trade Clauses in their contracts. However, if we look at the MLB, who conveniently had the same union leader Donald Fehr, we find that they made a rule in their most recent Expansion Drafts that any players that had NMCs MUST be chosen as part of their team's protected list. With Fehr now in charge of the NHLPA, we can assume that they will be certain to get this stipulation applied to any rules governing a new NHL Expansion Draft as well.
Again looking back at the most recent NHL Expansion Drafts we see a few rules that are likely to carry over. Each expansion team selects 1 player from each of the 30 current NHL teams, so we each lose 2 players. Also, each team may only lose either 1 Goaltender or 1 Defensemen, the 2nd player will always be a Forward. The two new expansion teams must use their first 24 selections to take 3 Goaltenders, 8 Defensemen, and 13 Forwards, with the remaining picks then allowed to come from any position. Of course that was back when there were only 24-26 teams in the pool (there were only 24 other teams in 1993 and in 1999 Nashville was exempt while in 2000 both Nashville and Atlanta were exempt), and prior to that in 1992 when only 21 franchises were in the pool there were lesser requirements. So with 30 teams in the pool now, we could very well see the required positions increase rather than having 6 choices at any position.
Penguins Exempt Players - Unsigned Draft Picks
Forwards Bryan Rust (2010 3rd Round), Josh Archibald (2011 6th Round), Scott Wilson (2011 7th Round), Theodor Blueger (2012 2nd Round), Oskar Sundqvist (2012 3rd Round), Matia Marcantuoni (2012 4th Round), Jake Guentzel (2013 3rd Round), Blaine Byron (2013 5th Round), and Troy Josephs (2013 7th Round).
Penguins Exempt Players - 1st and 2nd Year Pros
Goaltender Eric Hartzell.
Penguins Protected List - No Movement Clause or No Trade Clause
Penguins Draft Eligible Players
Goaltender Jeff Zatkoff
Forwards Craig Adams, Chris Conner, Matt D'Agostini, Nick Drazenovic, Andrew Ebbett, Brian Gibbons, Tanner Glass, Dustin Jeffrey, Jussi Jokinen, Steve MacIntyre, James Neal, Zach Sill, Brandon Sutter, Paul Thompson, Joe Vitale, and Harry Zolnierczyk.