NHL awards expansion franchise to Las Vegas, McPhee named GM
The National Hockey League announced in late June that it has granted an expansion franchise to Las Vegas.
The franchise, which will begin play in 2017-18, was approved in a unanimous vote by the League’s Board of Governors during a meeting today in Las Vegas.
Ownership of the Las Vegas franchise will principally reside with Bill Foley. The franchise will play its home games in the recently opened, state-of-the-art T-Mobile Arena, which has a hockey capacity of 17,368.
Former Washington Capitals GM George McPhee was named the first Las Vegas GM on July 13.
The Las Vegas franchise will pay a $500-million expansion fee. That fee then will be distributed in equal shares to each of the NHL’s 30 presently existing clubs.
This marks the first League expansion since 1997, when the NHL added four franchises – Nashville (1998-99), Atlanta (1999-00), Columbus and Minnesota (2000-01) – at a franchise fee of $80 million.
“In the fall of 2017, when we celebrate the 100th birthday of the NHL, we will do so as a League of 31 teams,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said. “We are pleased to welcome Bill Foley and the city of Las Vegas to the League and are truly excited that an NHL franchise will be the first major professional sports team in this vibrant, growing, global destination city.”
“On behalf of the Las Vegas Founding 75, our 14,000 season-ticket holders and the entire Las Vegas community, I would like to thank Commissioner Bettman, the NHL staff and the team owners for their support during this process and the confidence they have placed in Las Vegas by awarding this franchise,” said Foley. “I also would like to thank everyone who supported us through this incredible journey. As I’ve said many times over the past year, Las Vegas is a hockey town and we look forward to cheering on our home team.”
The NHL also announced that is has deferred the expansion application by Quebecor and its ownership group in Quebec City. Although the League sees Quebec City as a prime opportunity for future expansion, the Board of Governors concluded that the NHL’s lack of geographic balance, the belief that it would be best not to assimilate multiple teams into the League at this time, as well as the recent and significant devaluation of the Canadian dollar made it prudent to defer Quebecor’s application.
The Las Vegas franchise will begin play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference in 2017-18. There will be no other changes to the NHL’s alignment.
2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs
The NHL’s current playoff format will not change.
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:
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).
Player Exposure Requirements * All Clubs must meet the following minimum requirements regarding players exposed for selection in the Expansion Draft:
i) 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.
ii) 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.
iii) 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.
* 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.
* 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 Protected Lists by 5:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 17, 2017. The Las Vegas franchise must submit its Expansion Draft selections by 5:00 p.m. ET on June 20. The announcement of their selections will be made on June 21.
2017 NHL Draft Lottery
The Las Vegas franchise will be given the same odds in the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery as the team finishing with the third-fewest points during the 2016-17 regular season.
The Las Vegas franchise’s First Round selection in the 2017 NHL Draft will be determined in accordance with the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery and, as a result, the Las Vegas franchise will be guaranteed no lower than the sixth overall selection.
The Las Vegas franchise then will select third in each subsequent round of the 2017 NHL Draft (subject to trades and other potential player transactions).