The NHL board of governors has voted to expand to Las Vegas, starting in the 2017-18 season. Here are six questions about what impact a 31st team will have on the league:
How will the NHL schedule be affected?
The Las Vegas franchise will begin play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference. There will be no other changes to the NHL's alignment. Each club will continue to play an 82-game schedule, with 41 home games and 41 road games, and play in every rink at least once per season. The current playoff format will not change.
How will the expansion draft work for the other 30 teams?
Clubs will have two options for players they want to protect: Seven forwards, three defencemen and one goaltender OR eight skaters and one goaltender. All players with "no movement" clauses at the time of the expansion draft must be protected. 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 protection limits. Teams will also have to ensure their exposed players meet other minimum requirements, such as number of games played and contract status.
How will the expansion draft work for Las Vegas?
The Las Vegas franchise will select one player from each team, and that group must include 14 forwards, nine defencemen and three goaltenders. Las Vegas must select a minimum of 20 players who are under contract for the 2017-18 season and select players with an aggregate value that is between 60 and 100 per cent of the prior season's upper limit for the salary cap. The new club cannot buy out any of the players selected in the expansion draft earlier than the summer following its first season.
When will the expansion draft happen?
The 30 existing NHL teams have until 5 p.m. ET on June 17, 2017, to submit their protected list and the Las Vegas franchise must submit its selections by 5 p.m. ET on June 20. The announcement of their selections will be made on June 21.
How will the 2017 draft lottery work?
The Las Vegas franchise will be given the same odds in the 2017 draft lottery as the team finishing with the third-fewest points during the 2016-17 regular season. This means it will choose no lower than sixth in the first round. Las Vegas then will select third in each subsequent round of the draft unless there is a trade.
What will the team be called?
Owner Bill Foley says he and his staff have been thinking about it but haven't decided yet, adding that they will work closely with the NHL on determining the team's brand. The businessman's financial services company is called "Black Knight," fuelling some speculation that could be worked into the name somehow.