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NHL announces expansion to Las Vegas for 2017-18 season

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Here’s what you need to know.

Hockey Vision Las Vegas News Conference To Announce NHL Season Ticket Drive Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Gary Bettman spoke the words we’ve known were coming for weeks, if not months, to a throng of reporters ahead of the NHL Awards.

"Welcome to the NHL, Las Vegas!"

First leaked after the executive committee met in New York, the league said nothing publicly until after today’s Board of Governors meeting.

Jeremy Jacobs (Bruins owner, chairman of BOG), Bill Foley (Las Vegas owner), and Pierre Dion (CEO of Quebecor/Quebecor Media, potential Quebec City Owner) joined Commissioner Bettman at the podium for the press conference.

It began with talk about the change in ownership of the New York Islanders. The BOG approved the transfer of Isles' ownership to Jon Ledecky and Scott Malkin. Charles Wang will retain 15% ownership of the team.

Then Bettman moved right into the thick of things.

Las Vegas will be joining the NHL in the 2017-18 season. The owners will pay an expansion fee of US$500,000,000. While a 3/4 approval would have done the job, the BOG voted unanimously to accept the team. Each franchise will receive a $16.6 million share of the expansion fee.

Bill Foley is the owner of the new team. They will play out of the T-Mobile Arena, off the famous Las Vegas Strip.

Las Vegas will play in the Pacific Division, leaving the Central as the lone seven-team division.

You can view the NHL's Press release here.

Pierre Dion was there not to be awarded an expansion team, but, um, why was he was in town?

The reasons the NHL will NOT expand to Quebec City are:

  1. Weak Canadian Dollar - The cost of $500,000,000USD is $640,000,000CDN. The Quebec City group may be better off buying a team and relocating them.
  2. The difficulty of expanding twice in one go - Owners don’t want to lose more players than necessary in the expansion draft.
  3. East-West imbalance - If Quebec City joined the NHL they would have to be in the Eastern Conference, as they would be the second Easternmost NHL team. This would mean one of Columbus/Detroit would have to move back West, which is not ideal.

What does this means for the Leafs?

To sum up:

We'll have a expansion draft, but, luckily, our most important assets, those sweet, sweet prospects, are safe. The Leafs will have enough room to protect pieces of the future, like JvR, Kadri, Rielly, Gardiner, and Andersen.

There will be two less games against division rivals since Vegas will come to the ACC once a season and the Leafs will head there once a season, thus completely balancing out the schedule for Eastern Conference teams.

2017/18 Schedule

For the 2017/18 season every time will play each other at home and away, from the release:

2017-18 Schedule Matrix

Each club will continue to play an 82-game schedule, with 41 home games and 41 road games.

The schedule matrix, which ensures that all teams play in all arenas at least once each season, will be adjusted to the following in 2017-18:

Eastern Conference (Atlantic and Metropolitan Divisions – 8 Teams)

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

Western Conference (Central Division – 7 Teams)

Within Conference (Division): 26 games

* 4 Teams: 2 Home / 2 Away

* 1 Team: 3 Home / 2 Away

* 1 Team: 2 Home / 3 Away

* 4 x 4 = 16

* 1 x 5 = 5

* 1 x 5 = 5

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: 32 games

* 16 Home / 16 Away

* 2 x 16 = 32 games

Western Conference (Pacific Division – 8 Teams)

Within Conference (Division): 29 games

* 6 Teams: 2 Home / 2 Away

* 1 Team: 3 Home / 2 Away

* 6 x 4 = 24 games

* 1 x 5 = 5 games

Within Conference (Non-Division): 21 games

* 4 Teams: 2 Home / 1 Away

* 3 Teams: 1 Home / 2 Away

* 4 x 3 = 12 games

* 3 x 3 = 9 games

Non-Conference: 32 games

* 16 Home / 16 Away

* 2 x 16 = 32 games

Expansion Draft

The NHL Expansion draft will help the Las Vegas Black Knights (the owner said he loves the name, so...) stock up on talent. The 30 teams must submit their lists of protected players by the end of day June 17, 2017, and Las Vegas will make their picks by EOD June 20th, and the NHL will announce the roster on June 21, 2017.

Every team will lose one player in the expansion draft. Las Vegas can pick up to 14 forwards, 9 defensemen, and 3 goalies.

The rules for the expansion draft are:

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.

If the Leafs are bad next season, expansion will also impact their draft odds.

Welcome to the NHL, Las Vegas, and welcome hockey fans to a year of expansion draft fretting!