The Edmonton Oilers and the Expansion Draft

Peter Chiarelli3

Over the last few days, details have emerged about how an expansion draft would work for teams entering the NHL in 2017-18. It’s important to get these details ironed out now, so that general managers can enter this summer with an idea of how they need to structure their teams to protect key pieces.

The Details has the details on the potential expansion draft, which could be as early as the summer of 2017 in time for the 2017-18 season. Key points are as follows:

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  • Teams would be able to protect up to 11 skaters. It’s believed that clubs would be allowed to protect either a full set of 11 skaters with position requirements (7 forwards, 3 defencemen, 1 goalie) or a group of nine which would allow more protection for defencemen (8 skaters, 1 goalie).
  • Players in their first and second seasons of professional hockey would be exempt, as would unsigned draft picks.

That last point requires some clarification, which we get from TSN’s Darren Dreger (via the essential Chris Nichols):

Nylander played 37 games in the AHL in 2014-15, while Ehlers was a rookie pro in 2015-16. By the summer of 2017, Nylander would have completed his third year in pro hockey and would thus be eligible, while Ehlers would have finished his second and thus be protected.

ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun noted that there would also need to be a certain salary threshold exposed:

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Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman added another interesting point in this week’s 30 Thoughts column: no-move and no-trade clauses. It isn’t clear how those clauses would be treated in an expansion draft, but it’s a very good bet that the NHLPA would fight for at least no-move clauses to be exempt from expansion, meaning that those players would need to be included on a team’s protected list. No-trade clauses, as Friedman notes, are less likely to get the same protection.

So of we’re looking at the Oilers preparedness for an expansion draft in the summer of 2017, what would that look like?

Edmonton’s Protected List


We should start with ineligible players. It’s easy to apply that Nylander/Ehlers distinction above to Edmonton: it means that Connor McDavid would be exempt but that Leon Draisaitl would be eligible.

Exempt List:

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  • F – Connor McDavid
  • F – Anton Slepyshev
  • D – Darnell Nurse
(among others)


Protected List:

  • F – Taylor Hall
  • F – Leon Draisaitl
  • F – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
  • F – Jordan Eberle
  • F – Benoit Pouliot
  • F – Nail Yakupov
  • F – Patrick Maroon
  • D – Oscar Klefbom
  • D – Brandon Davidson
  • D – Andrej Sekera
  • G – Cam Talbot


This would expose some pretty interesting players to expansion team(s). Up front the list of players potentially exposed would include (among others) Zack Kassian, Jujhar Khaira, Bogdan Yakimov, Mark Letestu and Iiro Pakarinen. It’s not impossible to picture a scenario where taking dollars into account the Oilers decide to expose Pouliot and protect one of the younger players, though doing so would be unfortunate. Alternatively, Patrick Maroon could be exposed.


The real gems, though, are on defence and in net. Potentially exposed would be Griffin Reinhart, Laurent Brossoit, Mark Fayne, Eric Gryba, Jordan Oesterle and others. Again, it isn’t impossible to imagine a situation where taking salary into account Edmonton would expose Andrej Sekera (he has a no-trade clause, not a no-move clause strike that, he has a no-move clause) and protect Reinhart, though that’s a tough case to make. It’s more likely that Sekera would be exposed if the Oilers brought in a right-shot veteran this summer (someone like Travis Hamonic).

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A lot of those players would be appealing to an expansion club, particularly the younger ones. A lot could change in a year but Reinhart is the obvious target given his age in a single-team draft. Brossoit is appealing but there will be a flood of available goalies, so Kassian (or Pouliot) might be the next most attractive pick.


  • FireScorpion

    What do Oilers fans think of the league down voting the proposal to limit lottery wins over a specified time period.

    Oh everyone on ON thinks it was smart..what a surprise. Line up at the NDP trough boys. Even Losers get rewarded

    • I’ve always thought that there should be a minimal % chance difference between each of the playoff teams winning the lotto pick. Like 30th place being 10% more likely to win vs. 17th, for example. I think this year’s format is a lot closer to fair than it’s been in the past. There’s a 19% difference between the 30th and 17th place teams winning #1 overall. I’d like to see that narrowed more, as I said. I would even not mind a random lotto all throughout the entire non-playoff section.

      No matter what they do, someone will be upset. You’re only happy with the lotto when your team wins… or well, if your team wins the cup.. then you don’t care much about the lotto!

  • #1 overall waivers pick

    Don’t protect Andrej Sekera…Chiarelli over paid.

    Oilers have to be careful with the cap space.

    McDavid camp will want around 15 million per year long term.

      • #1 overall waivers pick

        Sekera’s contract was an overpay and the term was too long. The no-move clause is just beyond ridiculous. Sekera must be using the same agent as Andrew Ference.

        It would be nice to have Sekera and Yakupov off the books.

        Don’t protect tiny Yak. Falloon was a better hockey player and he was done before 30.

        McDavid’s next contract will most likely be 120 million dollar deal… be prepared!

        • I think the GMs will work out that detail with the NHLPA. You’d have to figure that the NHLPA will strongly argue that players with NMC (and possibly even NTC) absolutely need to be protected. Otherwise, this is an easy way for a GM to attempt to circumvent the NMC/NTC, although they won’t get a return for doing so.

          • Yah, I’d be amazed if any team is near that limit, so it probably isn’t worth thinking about that specifically… however, that said, I suppose they could be at that limit on a positional basis? I.e., what if you had 2 goalies with NMC/NTC?

            Something to figure out, for sure.

  • Word to the Bird

    What is the actual likelihood of this happening though? I can’t help but feel the odds of expansion is unlikely given how low the Canadian dollar is.

    That being said, if there was an expansion draft, I’m willing to bet any exposed Oilers are safe given how awful the team has been 🙁

    • If we’re far enough into this that they are running articles on TSN and Sportsnet, and Bettman has actually talked about it, then it’s going to happen. It is only a matter of time, and a matter of where the NHL expands to. Would love to welcome back Quebec City to the NHL. If that happens then balance will be restored to the force, and maybe the Oilers can see playoffs again.

      • Word to the Bird

        Canadian teams’ revenue is in Canadian dollars, while they pay players in American dollars. The result is less revenue from some of the top earning teams in the NHL. Thanks to the revenue sharing model, all teams hurt when the Canadian dollar slumps, not just Canadian teams.

      • If we’re far enough into this that they are running articles on TSN and Sportsnet, and Bettman has actually talked about it, then it’s going to happen. It is only a matter of time, and a matter of where the NHL expands to. Would love to welcome back Quebec City to the NHL. If that happens then balance will be restored to the force, and maybe the Oilers can see playoffs again.