NHL releases expansion draft plan, moves closer to growing

Bettman & Co. start laying down the nuts & bolts of adding a new franchise or two

The NHL moved another small step towards adding a new member or two, releasing a plan on how a potential expansion draft would work if Las Vegas and/or Quebec City are admitted to the league this summer. The earliest a new team would begin play is for the 2017-18 season.

Under the plan, existing clubs would have the option of protecting three defensemen, seven forwards and goalie or eight skaters and one goalie. First and second-year pros would be exempt from the expansion draft.

The "Original 30" would only lose one player per new franchise. So, if only Las Vegas gets a team, the Panthers would only potentially lose one player, if Quebec also joins the league, the Cats would have to worry about potentially losing two players.

The last time the league expanded the pool of players made available was shallower and teams were allowed to protect two goaltenders. Still to be determined is whether or not players with No-Movement Clauses will be made available or will their current teams be forced to protect them.

An announcement on whether the league will add no, one or two new teams is expected before this year's entry draft, meaning the earliest the expansion draft to stock the new team(s) could happen is the summer of 2017.