Jan. 18, 2018
NHL Expansion 2017: Vegas Golden Knights
On June 22, 2016, the National Hockey League named the city of Las Vegas as the winner of a new expansion team. With the addition of a Las Vegas hockey team the NHL expanded from 30 teams to 31. The team is a needed addition because there were 14 teams in the Western Conference opposed to 16 in the Eastern Conference. The gap has closed to 15 Western-16 Eastern teams, with talks of expansion in the future.
Majority Owner Bill Foley (former West Point Grad) funded the team $500 Million to get it up and running. Days later Foley announced former Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee would become the new GM of the team. Five months later, on November 22, 2016, the team was named The Vegas Golden Knights, and images of their primary and secondary logo were revealed to the world.
On March 6, 2017, the team signed their first player in the team’s history in Reid Duke, a forward from the Brandon Wheat Kings of the OHL. A month later The Golden Knights hired their first Head Coach, former Florida Panthers HC Gerrard Gallant. Then in May they signed their second and third players. Vadim Shipachyov who played in the KHL over in Russia, and the third in Tomas Hyka who played for BK Mlada Boleslav in the Czech Extraliga. This wouldn’t be the end of player acquisitions as the NHL announced that there was going to be an Expansion Draft for Vegas.
The NHL Expansion draft is a draft where a new team (aka Vegas) can select one player from each current NHL teams roster. The only stipulation however is that the current teams can protect up to nine players in the form of:
A) Seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender
B) 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).
For the two New York teams, The Rangers had to protect (F)Rick Nash, (D) Marc Staal, (D) Dan Girardi, and (G) Henrik Lundqvist. The Islanders had to protect (F) Andrew Ladd) and (F) John Tavares. These players were automatically protected because of their no movement clauses in their contracts. The rest of each teams list were based of who the team wanted to protect, and not based of contracts.
On June 21, 2017 was the official NHL Expansion Draft where The Golden Knights unveiled their first uniforms as well as their first official roster. Notable names that the Golden Knights took include: Marc-Andre Fleury (PIT), James Neal (NSH), Jonathan Marchessault (FLA), and Nate Schmidt (WAS). Two days later During the NHL Entry Draft, The Golden Knights selected with their 6th, 13th, and 15th picks they selected Cody Glass (F), Nick Suzuki (F), and Erik Brannstrom (D).
Expansion drafts rarely happened and it is a remarkable milestone that it happened during the 100th year of the NHL’s existence. It is still early to tell whether the Golden Knights will do well, but we will have to wait for their first game in October to find out.