Las Vegas has been awarded with an NHL franchise. Commissioner Gary Bettman announced Wednesday that the league had granted the expansion, with the team beginning play at the start of the 2017-18 season.
The 2017-18 season will see 31 teams compete in the NHL. With this expansion, the NHL has become the first of the four major North American Professional Sports to place a team in Las Vegas.
This is the leagues first expansion since 2000-2001 when Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild joined.
Las Vegas will play at the T-Mobile Arena. The arena will have the hockey capacity of 17,368 and is also located near the famous Vegas Strip.
The team will become the eighth team in the Pacific Division and the 15th in the Western Conference. The NHL has 16 teams in the Eastern Conference.
Due to the expansion, an expansion draft will take place prior to the start of the 2017 season in order to build the team.
The team must select a player from each of the existing 30 teams currently in the league. This includes at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies.
20 of the players they select must have an existing contract that go through to the 2017-18 season. The average annual value of the contracts must be at least 60 percent of the 2016-17 salary-cap limit, which is $73 million.
Vegas will be allowed to buy out any contracts it takes on from summer 2018.
Existing teams will have the option to protect their players. This can either include, seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, OR, eight players and one goalie.
All players with a “no movement” clause in contracts will be protected from the expansion draft and will count towards the teams limit, unless the player agrees to waive to clause.
First and second year pros will be exempt from the expansion draft, as will any unsigned draft picks.
Las Vegas’ picks will be released publicly at the end of June 2017.