Up to this point we knew “all first- and second-year professionals, as well as all unsigned draft choices, will be exempt from selection” in the 2017 Expansion Draft. However, there was a ton of grey area in that sentence. The guys at GeneralFanager.com set out to get some clarification, and boy did they ever.

A Player aged 18 or 19 earns a year of professional experience by playing 10 or more NHL games in a given NHL season
A player aged 20 or older (based on age on December 31 of calendar year in which the season starts) earns a year of professional experience by playing 10 or more Professional Games under a standard player contract in a given League Year. –GeneralFanager.com

This is excellent news for Las Vegas as it should open up a number of players in the 20-22 year old range who only have one NHL season under their belt. Pretty much all players younger than 19 years old will be exempt, but including AHL, ECHL, and all other professional leagues will make most 20+ year olds eligible.

There are going to be a number of exceptions, most notably the Calder Trophy winner Artemi Panarin. I wrote out this whole explanation as to why, then I realized it wasn’t nearly as good as the one on GeneralFanager, so let’s just quote them again.

Professional seasons are expected to only count while a player is under an NHL SPC. A player like Artemi Panarin for instance, who played several “professional seasons” in the KHL prior to signing with the Chicago Blackhawks for the 2015-16 season, is expected to still be exempt from the Expansion Draft. This is because his seasons in the KHL were played before he signed an NHL SPC, so his first “professional season” for purposes of expansion is considered the 2015-16 season.

Some of the players who will be eligible are Ryan Pulock (Islanders), Anthony Mantha (Red Wings), Ryan Hartman (Blackhawks), William Carrier (Sabres), and Kerby Rychel (Maple Leafs).

It’s just another example of the loose rules the NHL has set up to help Las Vegas be competitive as quickly as possible. Teams will have to make decisions on these youngsters which will either leave them available to Vegas or force a more experienced player to be exposed.

Based on GM George McPhee’s mantra, “you can survive the loss of a player, you can’t survive a bad contract,” these are the types of guys he’d like to get his hands on.

Whether anybody mentioned in this article winds up on the Vegas team or not, this clarification is a good one for McPhee. The more players eligible, the better, and these guys are pretty good players.

**If you haven’t played around with the GeneralFanger.com Expansion Draft tool, you haven’t lived.**