This guide to NHL Expansion is a summary of the rules reported by the NHL as well as interpretations that are the result of consulting and clarifying details with sources.

According to the NHL the following rules were approved for the 2017 Expansion Draft:

Protected Lists

  • Clubs will have two options for players they wish to protect in the Expansion Draft:
    • Seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender
    • Eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender
  • All players who have currently effective and continuing “No Movement” clauses at the time of the Expansion Draft (and who to decline to waive such clauses) must be protected (and will be counted toward their club’s applicable protection limits).
  • All first- and second-year professionals, as well as all unsigned draft choices, will be exempt from selection (and will not be counted toward their club’s applicable protection limits).

Player Exposure Requirements

All Clubs must meet the following minimum requirements regarding players exposed for selection in the Expansion Draft:

  • One defenseman who is a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.
  • Two forwards who are a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.
  • One goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18. If the club elects to make a restricted free agent goaltender available in order to meet this requirement, that goaltender must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the club’s protected list.
  • Note: Players with potential career-ending injuries who have missed more than the previous 60 consecutive games (or who otherwise have been confirmed to have a career-threatening injury) may not be used to satisfy a club’s player exposure requirements, unless approval is received from the NHL. Such players also may be deemed exempt from selection by the League.

Regulations Relating to Expansion Franchise

  • The Las Vegas franchise must select one player from each presently existing club for a total of 30 players (not including additional players who may be acquired as the result of violations of the Expansion Draft rules).
  • The Las Vegas franchise must select the following number of players at each position: 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders.
  • The Las Vegas franchise must select a minimum of 20 players who are under contract for the 2017-18 season.
  • The Las Vegas franchise must select players with an aggregate Expansion Draft value that is between 60-100% of the prior season’s upper limit for the salary cap. With a 2016-17 salary cap of $73M, this means the Expansion Draft selections must amount to a aggregate salary cap value of at least $43.8M.
  • The Las Vegas franchise may not buy out any of the players selected in the Expansion Draft earlier than the summer following its first season.

The 30 NHL Clubs must submit their Protection List by 5:00 P.M. ET on Saturday, June 17, 2017. The Las Vegas team must submit their Expansion Draft Selections by 5:00 P.M. ET on June 20 and the announcement of their selections will be released on made on June 21.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some commonly asked questions regarding interpretation of the expansion rules. Please note that explanations may not reflect all scenarios or actual interpretation by NHL/NHLPA representatives. If you have a suggestion or other questions you’d like to see answered here, please contact us at @MikeColligan on Twitter or

What’s the difference between a No-Movement Clause (NMC) and a No-Trade Clause (NTC)?

A No-Movement Clause prohibits a team from “involuntary relocation of a player” by means such as trade, loan or waivers, or assigning that player to the minors without the player’s consent. The NHL and NHLPA seem to have also agreed that the expansion draft is also a means of involuntary relocation. Teams must protect players with No-Movement Clauses unless the player agrees to waive the clause.

A No-Trade Clause is less restrictive, as it only places restrictions on movement via trade. A player with a No-Trade Clause cannot be traded by a team unless the player provides consent. A Partial or Modified No-Trade Clause is often less restrictive than a Full No-Trade Clause, and depends on the conditions outlined in the player’s contract. Often these are No-Trade Clauses with conditions that give the player the right to provide a list of teams to which the team can or cannot trade the player. Players that have a No-Trade Clause but not a No-Move Clause can be exposed by a team without the player waiving the clause.

Why do I see other phrases in the media such as “Full NMC” or “NMC with Partial NTC”?

Keep in mind that terminology is often misrepresented in news reports and social media commentary. But in some cases players will have No-Movement Clauses tied to their contracts with Partial or Modified No-Trade Clauses. These generally prevent the team from moving the player via loan or waivers, but give the team some options for trading the player. Teams must protect these players for purposes of expansion unless the player is willing to waive such clauses.

Example: Marc-Andre Fleury has a NMC and Partial NTC that prohibits him from being traded to a 12 team list of his choice. Unless Fleury was willing to waive his NMC, the Pittsburgh Penguins must protect him.

Why would any NMC not be “currently effective and continuing”?

Players and their respective teams have the flexibility to apply NMC or NTC protection to any year of the player’s contract, with one exception: A player is not eligible for a NMC or NTC in their contract until they are eligible for Group 3 Unrestricted Free Agency (7 accrued seasons or 27 years of age). That means a player can sign a contract that has a NMC or NTC take effect partway through the contract for the season that they would have otherwise become eligible for Group 3 Unrestricted Free Agency.

Examples: Cam Talbot has a NMC in 2016-17 and 2017-18, and a Modified NTC in 2018-19. He would need to be protected by the Edmonton Oilers because he has a NMC that is “currently effective and continuing at the time of the Expansion Draft”.

Tuukka Rask has a NMC through 2016-17, and a Modified NTC in 2017-18 and beyond. He would not have to be protected by the Boston Bruins.

What’s the range of team salary amounts that Las Vegas can select?

The outlined range of 60-100% of the 2016-17 prior season’s limit would mean Las Vegas can select 30 players with cap hits totaling at least $43.8M and not exceeding $73.0M.

What does “first- and second-year professionals” mean?

Assuming the methodology used for calculating professional experience as it relates to free agency (CBA Section 10.2) applies for expansion as well:

  • A Player aged 18 or 19 earns a year of professional experience by playing 10 or more NHL games in a given NHL season
  • A player aged 20 or older (or who turns 20 between September 16 and December 31 of the year in which he signs his first SPC) earns a year of professional experience by playing 10 or more Professional Games under an SPC in a given League Year.

Note that while the 18/19 age threshold refers to NHL games, the 20+ age threshold refers to Professional Games. “Professional Games” includes the following: any NHL Games played, all minor league regular season and playoff games and any other professional games played, including but not limited to, games played in any European league or any other league outside North America, by a Player pursuant to his SPC.

Professional seasons are expected to only count while a player is under an NHL SPC. A player like Artemi Panarin for instance, who played several “professional seasons” in the KHL prior to signing with the Chicago Blackhawks for the 2015-16 season, is expected to still be exempt from the Expansion Draft. This is because his seasons in the KHL were played before he signed an NHL SPC, so his first “professional season” for purposes of expansion is considered the 2015-16 season.

Furthermore, players who play professional games in the AHL or other professional leagues in a year where their contract slides are not expected to have those years count as “professional seasons” for purposes of expansion. This is because the player is 18/19 in the years that his contract slides, so only 10 or more NHL games would be considered a professional season.

Please visit the Protected Players tab on for a full list of players who are likely to be exempt under these guidelines.

Why is there a qualifying offer rule for goalies?

The player exposure requirements are different for skaters and goaltenders. While the required one defenseman and two forwards must be under contract for 2017-18 (in addition to games played thresholds), the goaltender can be under contract for 2017-18 or a restricted free agent.

To prevent teams from simply exposing RFA-status goaltenders that they have no intention of retaining in the first place, an additional expansion clause requires the team to tender a qualifying offer on the RFA goalie prior to submitting their protected list.

Example: Standard CBA protocol would require teams to tender qualifying offers to RFA goaltenders by June 26, 2017 in order to retain their rights. However, NHL teams must submit their Protection List for expansion on June 17, 2017. Buffalo’s Robin Lehner is scheduled to become an RFA after the 2016-17 season. If the Sabres want to expose Lehner as part of the player exposure requirements, they have to tender a qualifying offer of $2.225M to him prior to submitting their list on June 17, 2017.