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.


  • 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 🙁

      • 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.

    • 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.

  • The Last Of Barrett's Privateers

    Just when you thought the rebuild was almost over…………..

    The price to pay for Reinhart is going to be a real kick in the nards if he’s left unprotected.

  • RJ

    JW: if you were a expansion GM, and you had a choice to pluck a defenceman from Nashville, Anaheim, St. Louis, Chicago, etc. who would you select?

    Also, is there draft compensation for a team losing a player?

  • The Goalie 1976

    the other ting to remember is those 3 defenseman will likely change. If we see a Eberle trade for Hamonic, they you have to protect Hamonic, thus exposing perhaps Davidson. I’m sure he would get selected by the expansions team, very nice player.

    This gets compounded even further if the Oilers trade for 2 new RH defenseman. Then your talking about making a decision on Kelf, who would be crazy to expose.

    I can see the Oilers going the 8 player route, thus exposing forwards like Poo and maroon, rather than their 2 new top 4 defenseman.

  • Craig1981

    I can’t help but wonder how rosters would shake up. A team like NYI or Chicago with deep Dmen might trade them pre expansion draft, rather than lose them for nothing.

    Concidering how bad the Oilers have been maybe a shakeup will hurt them a lot less than other teams

    • DaveChamp

      If you’re going by the positional scenario (7F, 3D, 1G) then who would you rather protect above Yakupov? Maroon? Kassian? Letestu? Hendricks? Khaira? Korpikoski?

      I know Yak hasn’t become the player we dreamed, but he still has more value than the other players mentioned, and it would be foolish to let him go instead of one of the other players.

  • IronX

    There’s not enough Talent to add two franchises.

    Just look at our list of “unprotected players” we would have, it may not be that different (at that particular level of talent) from the top teams… What I’m saying, our Reinhardt shouldn’t be too different to LA’s Reinhardt (whoever he is)… So, imagine a team where all the players are at THAT level

    On the bright side, that would make our 30th place team be ahead of two teams in the standings! Dare to dream.

  • Seanaconda

    Will prob have less players to worry about after the offseason anyways if we do a 2 for 1 of whatever for a dman. The expansion draft adds more pros to keeping our first round pick tho.

  • BlazingSaitls

    Here’s what I want to give Las Vegas (in particular Order)

    1)Drew Remenda – Las Vegas’s new color-man

    2 Stadium Love – Las Vegas’s new goal song




    “In reality, hope is the worst of all evils, because it prolongs man’s torments.” ~Friedrich Nietzsche

  • DiscoBiscuits

    To my eye, this drives up the value of draft picks this summer and next since they’re protected assets, and it really handcuffs the Oilers when it comes to acquiring defensemen: every defenseman they acquire exposes one.

    Could a pathway be to offload forwards that would otherwise need protection for high-end D from teams that have too many to protect and are at risk of losing them for nothing, then going with option B, protecting 4 defensemen + 4 of the forwards that are left?

    Edit: In other words, what The Goalie 1976 and Seanaconda said.

  • 99 NOW 97

    Watered down is right , you know for a fact it will be 2 teams before long. If i can quit smoking i may still have a shot ! Kidding of course but that is getting close to Jultz playing for Vegas as a top 2 D-man and because every team must have a Rep at the All Star game ! Guess who !

    Can you imagine. lol

  • Gerald R. Ford

    Fewer, better managed, franchises would make a much healthier league in the long run, but the allure of the immediate injection of expansion cash into the owners’ pockets always seems to win. It’s shortsighted and unfortunate. Every time they add a team, that’s another 23 guys getting jobs who aren’t good enough to play in the league today. That’s 207 players added since the 1991 expansion diluting the talent pool.


  • ubermiguel

    Has anyone seen an article on all the teams’ probable protected lists and possible expansion team roster? That’d be fun to put together a team from scratch.

  • Kurri_Flavor

    Every time the league has expanded, goal scoring has gone up. I’m all for expansion at this point, as I’d love to get back to more scoring in the game. Expansion and goalie equipment control will really help the league I feel.

    • Seanaconda

      It went up for a while but also forced teams with untalented players to learn a different way to win. Which was be defensive as all heck and play systems which kinda over time got us to this point.

      • Kurri_Flavor

        Give NHL coaches enough time, they will always prefer defensive minded hockey, much to the chagrin of fans everywhere who just want to see more games like the Oilers game against St. Louis.

    • Van isl Oiler

      Of course scoring goes up…you just added two terrible teams (12 dmen that didn’t have NHL jobs prior) thus driving up the avwrage a bit. I haven’t checked the stats, but I bet the increased scoring only goes up for a couple years.

  • Spydyr

    If there is only one team in expansion put in a rule where each team can only lose one player.That would give the team 30 players. Then have an AHL expansion draft for players on two way contracts following the same rules.

    Pretty sure most teams can survive losing one middling player and one AHL player.

    Let the expansion team carry 60 players instead of 50 the first year.

  • TyeDye

    I HATE the idea of an expansion draft.
    If they want a team in Las Vegas, how about they move one of the teams from the awful southern belt market (I’m looking at you Florida)?

    Relocation > Expansion

  • Lucius Vorenus

    I could see GMs signing two year contracts (expansion team will not pick a player that has a contract that is expiring). Trying to trade players that they could loose in the expansion draft (for young prospects, or draft picks). It could turn out to be an exciting off season.

  • Total Points

    A lot of teams will trade their older eligible players for ineligible players or draft choices.

    For example, If Reinhardt’s play improves and Oilers don’t have room to protect him they will trade him to a team that has room for him and acquire young players or draft picks.

    No good players will be available to the expansion players.

  • _MonsterPerformer_

    Here is a crazy question/scenario….

    How does the NHL evaluate/confirm what position an individual plays?

    If I was a GM and the playoffs weren’t viable during the 16/17 season, could I play a defenseman on the 4th line wing for a certain number of games so they can be placed on a 11-man protected list as a forward? Short-term pain for long-term gain.

    This is obviously hypothetical and not directed to one specific team, but just a thought as to if it could happen.

  • #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.

        • 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.

      • #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!

  • MrBung

    The Oilers are pretty much dead last in the league. I think the teams above the Oilers in the standings have much more to worry about with respect to losing players. Don’t worry, Reinhart will still be in Edmonton filling his 6-8 defense position.