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Trade freezes and gag orders: how the modern NHL works

In an effort to make it fair for Vegas, the league has thrown a veil of secrecy over the entire pre-expansion draft period.

Las Vegas NHL Franchise Reveals Team Name And Logo Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Hockey is entertainment and sports, both. The NHL is in the entertainment business as much as the hockey business. But sometimes, it sure feels like the league hasn’t figured out at all what catches the attention of fans and generates buzz.

Are we not entertained? Often, we aren’t.

The multi-day expansion draft process, which should be an opportunity for daily or almost hourly fun and excitement for fans, has been turned into a secretive event that will go on mostly behind closed doors.


The buyout window is now open, and that means we might see some waiver news as players are bought out prior to the expansion draft. The deadline is Friday, June 16 at noon to get a player waived and then bought out before protection lists have to go to the NHL.

This sort of news we will all hear about, as teams either announce it directly or the player or player’s agent leaks it to the press.

Also on Friday at 5 p.m., players who have been asked to waive their no-movement clause have to say yes or no to the request.

This kind of thing might be made public, but some teams have been very reticent about admitting that they have asked players. Players tend to be more philosophical about it all.

Saturday, June 17 at 3 p.m. is when the waiver/trade/signing freeze goes into effect. No one but Vegas can add any player to their team, sign an extension, place a player on waivers, or make a trade with anyone but Vegas. This freeze runs until 8 a.m. on Thursday morning.

Each team’s protection list has to be submitted by 5 p.m. Saturday.

Those lists will be made public Sunday morning at 10 a.m. and some things will be revealed — like which players who had NMCs are suddenly not protected, so they have to have waived them.

Vegas gets until Wednesday, June 21 at 10 a.m., to look over the lists, make deals, sign UFAs and RFAs, and then they submit the results to the league.

We will hear about none of that officially.

The results of the expansion draft will be revealed during the NHL awards, interspersed with the award winners on Wednesday night, live from Las Vegas beginning at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.

Gag Order

Part of this gag order business is obviously to make you and I watch the NHL Awards. Many fans pay little to no attention to the awards, so, I get why the NHL wants this event to get more attention.

Part of the reason for the cone of silence is to give Vegas a chance to negotiate with each team in a way that gives them an advantage. The expansion draft doesn’t give them much of a chance to build anything but a bad team of mediocre players. They already got done over by the draft lottery, so any edge in negotiations is likely a good thing for them.

But, from a fan’s point of view, this is frustrating. It’s not 1995. We don’t actually want our news from a television show hosted by some C list actor. We don’t want to be forced to sit through the winner of the Mark Messier “I wanted my name on something” Award to find out who the Golden Knights have taken from Buffalo so we can laugh about it. We really don’t want to hear about that at 10 o’clock at night.

All television viewers are getting older. And designing a sports event for television when it isn’t an actual game seems like an idea whose time was past a decade ago.

But okay, what matters is Vegas getting a fair shake at entry into the league. So the first big reveal of the protection lists is on a Sunday morning and then on a Wednesday night, Daren Millard and Kathryn Tappen will jump up every so often during the awards and announce a group of players Vegas has taken in the draft.

From eight the next morning until the morning of Friday, June 23 (when the entry draft starts) there is one day to make trades, and maybe fill in the details of all the secret ones that happened the week before.

The draft floor trades get announced right away, giving it all an air of excitement and expectation, and those deals are directly related to what’s going on the rest of the time: the spending of the picks that are parts of the trades. It’s an event, and it’s fun.

So, you guys tell me, are you tuning in to the NHL Awards/Expansion Draft Hybrid Extravaganza starring an actor I’ve never heard of?


Will you watch the NHL Awards?

This poll is closed

  • 47%
    Only to see Patrik Laine’s face when Auston wins the Calder.
    (178 votes)
  • 17%
    Have you heard of Twitter?
    (67 votes)
  • 8%
    Actually, I don’t even have a TV.
    (30 votes)
  • 26%
    The what awards?
    (98 votes)
373 votes total Vote Now