Expansion rules have dominated the media, and this site, for the past week, but the expansion draft is just one of three different ways by which the inaugural Las Vegas NHL team will be constructed. The other two are via free agency and through the NHL Entry Draft.
The league has made it clear they want to give The Creator and his team a good shot at being competitive early on in the franchise’s existence. But most of comments made under that guise are focused on the expansion draft not the entry draft.
In the past expansion teams usually select near the top of the draft, but not in the first slot. In 2000, Minnesota picked third and Columbus fourth. In 1999, Atlanta was given the second pick and moved up to one. And in 1998 Nashville was awarded the third pick but traded up to second.
So it’s reasonable, based on precedent for our team to select somewhere between second and fourth. But, there’s this thing call the lottery that may throw things off a bit.
GMs were also informed that Las Vegas and/or Quebec City (should one or both get teams) would likely not pick any higher than third in an amateur draft, although those discussions are still in their infancy. – Elliotte Friedman
Basically the league informed GM’s that the new team would not be eligible for the two picks in the new lottery system.
Previously the league would conduct a lottery for the first pick and then slot in picks 2-14 based on standings. Starting in 2016, and more importantly for Vegas 2017, there are three separate lotteries for picks one, two and three. The quote above says expansion teams cannot pick higher than third, so they would probably have no ping pong balls in the hopper for the first and second lotteries. The third? Who knows.
My guess, because the expansion rules are so favorable to the new team, they’ll likely give Las Vegas the first selection outside of the lottery, meaning the team would be guaranteed to select fourth no matter what happens with the lotteries.