Toronto Maple Leafs: The impact of another expansion draft

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 21: A general view during the 2017 NHL Awards and Expansion Draft at T-Mobile Arena on June 21, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 21: A general view during the 2017 NHL Awards and Expansion Draft at T-Mobile Arena on June 21, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

How will the Toronto Maple Leafs and other teams be affected if and when the NHL holds another expansion draft for Seattle?

As you can imagine, the Toronto Maple Leafs and the rest of the league watched Seattle’s recent NHL ticket drive with great interest. And that interest only intensified, when nearly 25,000 season ticket deposits were reached inside an hour of going on sale, including 10,000 in the first 12 minutes.

For all intents and purposes, Seattle will be awarded the NHL’s 32nd franchise. As such, thoughts turn to another potential expansion draft; more specifically, will any expansion draft follow the same rules as the previous one involving the Vegas Golden Knights?

As reported by Sportsnet‘s Mike Johnston, the answer is “yes”. Referencing a tweet from Chris Johnston, NHL GMs have been told Seattle’s potential expansion draft will be conducted under the exact same rules as Vegas.

In truth, this seems like the least Gary Bettman and Bill Daly can do, considering how much the projected fee will be for Seattle to join the NHL. They will reportedly pay $650 million US, a significant increase from the $500 million Vegas had to fork out.

Given the emphatic success of the Golden Knights in their inaugural season, a lot of people may argue it is unfair to give Seattle the same rules. However, it’s worth noting that even after their expansion draft, no one predicted much success in Vegas.

Regardless, Bettman has spoken and the same rules will apply, if and when Seattle is officially awarded their NHL franchise.  As such, teams will chose between seven forwards, three defencemen and one goaltender or eight skaters regardless of position and one goalie, when it comes to deciding which players to protect.

Common sense dictates most teams will once again take the former option, purely from a numbers standpoint. This makes even more sense when considering, as per Sportsnet, any players with no-movement clauses are automatically protected, while all first and second-year professionals and any unsigned draft choices are exempt.

Other rules to consider, include the requirement for each team to expose at least two forwards and one blue-liner under contract for the following season. These players must have each played 40+ NHL games the previous season, or 70+ games during the two previous seasons.

Every franchise must also expose one goalie who is under contract for the following season, or will be a restricted free agent at the conclusion of the current season. Also, anyone with potential career-ending injuries who have missed at least 60 consecutive games, will be exempt from the draft.

The factor which could potentially flummox organisations the most, is the no-movement clause in contracts. The only way to get around this, is if any player in question decides to waive this clause.

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For the Leafs in particular, this should not prove to be an issue. As things currently stand, they have no players with a no-movement clause beyond the 2019-20 season. This is important to note, as any potential Seattle franchise would not begin playing until 2020-21.

Now of course, this could quite easily change, especially with Auston Matthews, William Nylander and Mitch Marner all due extensions sooner than later. However, even this would not prove to be an issue, as you would expect the Leafs to protect all three regardless.

As per Pro Hockey Rumors, the majority of Canadian teams are in a similar position to the Leafs. The Calgary Flames, Vancouver Canucks and Winnipeg Jets also currently have no players under no-movement clauses beyond 2019-20.

The Edmonton Oilers, Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators each have two players with no-movement clauses. However, only the Oilers are in a potential bad spot, given how old Kris Russell and Milan Lucic will be in two years.

Of course, all in all, the only team most readers of this site will be concerned with, is the Leafs. And the impact of any potential expansion draft is further proof the organisation is in excellent hands with the trio of Brendan Shanahan, Lou Lamoriello and Mike Babcock.

Next: 2018 NHL Draft Player Rankings

What’s your take on how the Toronto Maple Leafs will be impacted by another expansion draft? More generally speaking, what is your opinion of the current expansion draft format? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.