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Road Trip! NHL officially announces expansion to Las Vegas

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New team will begin play in 2017-18 season

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL has finally made it official, Sin City is in. Today, the league's board of governors approved expansion to Las Vegas for the 2017-18 season.

The new club will call T-Mobile Arena its home and play in the Pacific Division. The addition of the club brings the league to 31 teams and cuts the conference imbalance to 16-15.

Quebec City, the other formal applicant, had its bid denied and will have to wait for a possible rebirth of its beloved Nordiques.

What does this mean for the Panthers? Well, aside for having a new stop on its road schedule, the Cats will lose a player to Las Vegas in next summer's expansion draft. There will also be an adjustment to the schedule matrix to account for the league's newest club.

Here are the rules for the expansion draft


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.

This how Florida's schedule will shape up in 2017-18

Within Conference (Division): 28 games
* 7 Teams: 2 Home / 2 Away
* 7 x 4 = 28 games

Within Conference (Non-Division): 24 games
* 4 Teams: 2 Home / 1 Away
* 4 Teams: 1 Home / 2 Away
* 4 x 3 = 12 games
* 4 x 3 = 12 games

Non-Conference: 30 games
* 15 Home / 15 Away
* 2 x 15 = 30

On behalf of LBC, a hearty welcome to Bill Foley and company. Viva Las Vegas!