What NHL expansion means for the Red Wings

Photo by Michael Caples/MiHockey
Photo by Michael Caples/MiHockey


By @StefanKubus

It’s official: the NHL will have 31 teams beginning in 2017-18 with the addition of a Las Vegas franchise.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman made the announcement Wednesday in Las Vegas following the league’s Board of Governor’s meeting.

In the expansion draft, Las Vegas will select one player from each of the 30 NHL teams – at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies – that are left unprotected. Bettman confirmed on Wednesday that each team would indeed lose one player.

Las Vegas must choose a minimum of 20 players who have existing contracts that carry through the 2017-18 season and the average annual value of the total contracts it takes on must be at least 60-percent of the 2016-17 salary-cap limit of $73 million. The earliest the franchise can buy out any contracts it takes on is the summer of 2018.

Given what has been reported about the expansion rules thus far, each team can protect up to 11 players prior to the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft: either seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender or eight skaters and one goaltender. Players with No-Movement Clauses are required to be protected unless the player agrees to waive it, while those with No Trade Clauses are not. In a nutshell, a No-Movement clause prevents movement via trade, loan/waivers or an assignment to the minors, whereas a No-Trade Clause only prohibits movement via trade.

Additionally, teams must expose two forwards and one defenseman that play 40 games in the 2016-17 season or 70 games between the 2015-16 and 2016-17 seasons and one goaltender who is either under contract for 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent in the 2017 offseason. Players with two years of professional experience or less, like Waterford native Dylan Larkin, will be exempt from the expansion draft and do not need to be protected.

However, the Wings face some tough choices, as they are likely to expose some youth or veteran depth players next summer.

Pavel Datsyuk’s contract was the only one in Detroit that carried a NMC, but with it expiring at the end of the 2016-17 season, it becomes irrelevant anyhow. Therefore, the Wings have the flexibility to choose all 9-11 players they wish to protect from next summer’s expansion draft. Meanwhile, by comparison, Chicago has seven NMCs on its roster, the most of any NHL team.

The Wings, along with the rest of the league, will have to submit their protection lists by 5 p.m. ET on June 17, 2017. Las Vegas has to submit its selections for the expansion draft by 5 p.m. ET on June 20. The results of the expansion draft will then be released publicly on June 21.

Here’s a breakdown of the Red Wings’ current situation via General Fanager:

wings expansion rules


When it comes to scheduling, each team will continue to play 82 games each season, with 41 home games and 41 away games.

Detroit will play 28 games within the Atlantic Division, 24 against the Metropolitan Division and 30 against the Western Conference clubs – 15 home and 15 away.