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Golden Knights Exempt From Seattle’s NHL Expansion Draft

Historically when new teams are added to the NHL, they are exempt from the next Expansion Draft. The same was expected to be the case for the Golden Knights when the NHL inevitably adds Seattle. However, earlier this year Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly left the door open for the owners to change their mind and force Vegas to give a player up to Seattle.

Luckily, today, Gary Bettman put a halt to that potential disaster and confirmed the Golden Knights are indeed exempt when Seattle comes into the league.

This is significant news for multiple reasons for the Golden Knights.

The first, and most obvious, reason is that Vegas will not lose a player in the Expansion Draft. Clearly, that’s a benefit as every other team will be subject to the same rules the Golden Knights had when they entered in 2017.

The next is because Expansion Drafts thin out the talent pool in the NHL. Rather than there being 713 NHL roster spots being available (31 teams of 23), there will suddenly become 736. Thus, it will be easier for players to make an NHL roster, meaning the talent at the bottom of rosters will be lesser than it is now. Every other team will have to replace a player with what used to be an AHL quality player. Vegas will not.

The final reason is that because the Golden Knights are exempt, The Creator will not get his cut of the $650 million expansion fee Seattle will pay to enter the league. This is a blow to the owner of the team, but knowing The Creator, he’d gladly give up $16+ million to ensure his hockey team has a better chance of winning.

No matter how you slice it, this is excellent news for the Golden Knights. Plus, we will all get to sit back and experience all the fun of an Expansion Draft, without fear of the repercussions that come with it.

Golden Knights Exempt From Next Expansion Draft… If It Happens Soon

The Creator better keep as close an eye on expansion as he is whatever is on the KnightTron in this picture. (Photo Credit: Photographer Brandon Andreasen)

The Vegas Golden Knights are intimately familiar with the rules of the Expansion Draft and their relative favorability compared to those in the past. Thus, if anyone knows the importance of being spared from any future Expansion Drafts it’s George McPhee.

It was reported previously Vegas would be exempt from the next Expansion Draft, however, it now appears there’s a time limit on the exemption.

Actually our expansion agreement with Vegas doesn’t even account for the exemption. We feel having looked at it preliminarily that it is a fair result that they would not have to expose players for the next Expansion Draft, if there is one. I’m sure if it’s Seattle and this application is different than if it’s 10 years from now with some other market. That’s the extent at which we’ve looked at it, it’s not called for in the expansion agreement at all. -Bill Daly, NHL Deputy Commissioner

Reading between the lines the simple way to put it is, if the Seattle bid comes through, Vegas would be exempt, if it does not, they would not be.

The bad news in all of this is that there it is not expressly written that the Golden Knights are indeed exempt. Therefore, even though it appears this will not be the case, the NHL Board of Governor’s could choose to change their path and force Vegas to expose players like every other team.

It’s really not something to worry too much about with the puck set to drop on the Stanley Cup Final in Las Vegas in less than an hour, but it’s certainly something that could come in to play in a big way soon.

Being exempt would be a major benefit for the Golden Knights as not only would they get to keep their entire roster intact, but the league would dissipate even further. Vegas would automatically get stronger relative to the entire league. Also, McPhee would have the ability to be a workaround for some teams in the weeks and days leading up to the next Expansion Draft.

It only makes sense for Vegas to remain exempt, especially if the reports are true that The Creator would not receive a cut of the expansion fee. The league appears to agree, but only for now. Hopefully the next seven games don’t change that.

Vegas Paved The Way For Seattle

Well that didn’t take long. Not only is The Creator no longer the newest owner in the NHL, he may not even own the newest team soon enough.

Absent of some really cataclysmic thing that happens with the rink, or the owners, or some extraneous thing we’re not aware of, the 32nd team in the league will be Seattle. -Bob McKenzie, TSN Vancouver

Now that the cat is out of the bag, let’s bring up the obvious. The Golden Knights early success helped speed up the Seattle process for the NHL.

Vegas is a wonderful sales pitch. -Darren Dreger, TSN 1050 Toronto

Of course it is. The Golden Knights have 35 points after 27 games, and they’re 11-2-0 at home. Potential owners in Seattle are salivating with the early return happening in Las Vegas. Future NHL owner Jerry Bruckheimer (who tried multiple times to put a team in Vegas) hasn’t been this excited since he read the script for Con Air.

It feels like (NHL) are almost tripping over themselves to get to the door to make the next move. There’s an excitement to Seattle. They’ve long coveted this market. -Ray Ferraro, TSN Vancouver

The NHL favored Southern Nevada over Quebec City because of its uniqueness and financial security. Las Vegas has its strong tourism industry, and Seattle has its strong tech industry. In the eyes of the league, the demographics of each city make for lucrative NHL markets.

The league forever, even before Vegas was an idea… even if the league will never admit this, I can tell you, the league has always been intrigued with Seattle. -Pierre LeBrun, TSN Ottawa

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Bettman Won’t Accept Any More Expansion Applications

Of all the comments, or non-comments on expansion, that came from Gary Bettman’s All Star Game press conference, there was only one that was even remotely interesting.

If someone wanted to give us an application right now, we wouldn’t take it. -Gary Bettman

It’s basically a direct shot at Seattle, but at the same time it’s a vote of confidence for Las Vegas and Quebec City.

It’s become clear that the league is only focused on whether or not they are ready to expand, not whether or not the potential cities are worthy.

He went on to say every which way the decision is not coming soon and the process will continue on as it has been. But this is clearly a bit of positive news for Las Vegas as the wait for Seattle is now in no way a hinderance.

Bettman Takes A Dump On Seattle

It’s no secret the NHL has a strong desire to bring hockey to Seattle, but the city has two major problems when it comes to getting an NHL franchise. First off, they don’t have a viable stadium for the team to play in and there’s not one coming any time soon. Secondly, the ownership group most likely to bid for a team wants an NBA team first.

Gary Bettman understands these issues and isn’t afraid to give the city of Seattle a hard time when he’s asked about them in the press.

I happen to think the Seattle market would be intriguing for the NHL at some point, but we’re not sitting around waiting for them to get their act together on an arena. -Gary Bettman

But that’s only the start of it.

Even if there was somebody interested in a team for Seattle in the downtown building, the person controlling it is more interested in an NBA team.

So basically he’s saying this (click the word this, that’s how the site works).

This is all music to the ears of us here in Las Vegas. Bettman wants Seattle, but the words, “not sitting around and waiting” indicates just that, and that they are looking to move forward.

Most believe Seattle is a major sticking point as to why the NHL is taking so long to make a decision on expansion. These words from the commissioner have to change the assumption. It’s looking more and more likely the league is simply trying to figure out the process rather than waiting for an application which is nonexistent.

We are still hoping that decision comes soon, but the way the league has acted thus far it doesn’t appear to be the case. However, I think we can put to bed the idea that Bettman’s infatuation with Seattle is holding this whole thing up.

Bettman Kissing Seattle’s Emeralds, Vegas Waits

We’ve said it before, the deadline was July 20th, 2015. That was the day that cities in North America were to show that they had interest in the National Hockey League coming to their city in which a check for $10 million would accompany their application. Only Las Vegas and Quebec City met this requirement. No one else, including Seattle, submitted a bid but we will are hearing that the league is still waiting on Seattle because in the world of common sense it makes sense. Sometime in January, Seattle will vote on whether or not to give Chris Hansen the go ahead to put a shovel in the ground to make the Sodo Arena a reality. The problem is the bond that would assist Hansen in building an arena is to only be used for a NBA franchise. This ultimately could force Hansen to build his arena with private funds or not at all. It’s becoming clear to me that the NHL would prefer two teams in the West, Vegas and Seattle while Quebec would be a landing spot for a team to relocate. In reality this makes sense and it doesn’t mean Vegas would have to wait for Seattle to build their barn.

As for who would be moving, that crystal clear as well. The Arizona Coyotes have shown some improvement in attendance and should remain that way as long as the team stays in contention for a playoff spot. The Florida Panthers have averaged 900 more fans per game this season so the arrow is pointing in the right direction there too, leaving one franchise that is obviously going to struggle if something isn’t done, the Carolina Hurricanes.

In 2006-2007, Carolina averaged well over 17,000 fans per game , filling 92% of their arena. Granted this was the year after their Stanley Cup win in 2005 when they beat the Edmonton Oilers. Now we fast forward to 2015, they can barely fill half their building, settling in dead last, by a wide margin, in league attendance. I suppose this will happen when you’ve missed the playoffs six straight years and are destined for a seventh.

I feel strongly that there will be some sort of an announcement at the All Star Break. The league will have all their presentations and phases of expansion out of the way and the vote in Seattle would have taken place. It will be a year since Las Vegas started selling season tickets to a population that people doubted would sell 5,000 let alone 14,000. We met the deadline in respect the National Hockey League’s deadline. Now it’s time for them to respect us with an answer, January 31st, at the All-Star Game.

Smart Hockey People Say No Decision In December

The announcement we’ve all been waiting for, and The Creator said he expected in December, appears as if it will be delayed once again.


I wish I could pick apart the credibility of these two guys to make us all feel better, but you just can’t, they are both well respected in the hockey community and there’s no reason to doubt these reports.

The delay, as our friends up in Seattle point out, likely has something to do with the pending stadium vote in Tukwila.

Either way, the waiting game appears as if it’s going to continue into the new year, and as we’ve speculated here on, it will likely take 2017-18 out of the picture.

*Hat tip to SinBin commenter @styth for pointing out the Seattle article to us**

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