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.


  • Total Points

    The great teams will lose nothing. Look at Chicago.

    On their current roster they can protect their top 7 forwards. All the rest make less than 1m per years and can be easily replaced.

    Their 3 top defenseman can be protected and all their other defensemen are easily replaced

    • Seanaconda

      The great teams that focus on a core. St Louis might give up something half decent. Hmm Dallas too maybe Washington. Would have to look at all the rosters . La will probably lose someone decent. All the teams will be fine but some of the good teams will lose someone not bad.

  • Good explanation of the requirement for young players to be protected or not.

    I was messaging Chris Nichols about this yesterday and he seemed a little clueless to how it worked, as did Dreger. The conclusion they seemed to come to was that a player ENTERING their 3rd year pro would require to be protected (which made absolutely no sense to me).

    The issue with Nylander needing protection, as you cleared up, appears to be that the AHL (of course being a Pro league) counts. He also played in the Swedish Hockey League, a pro league, so that would also factor in I believe.. which ties into my next question.

    Do you happen to know how many games are required in a pro league to be considered as playing pro that year? This could make Draisaitl exempt, if not mistaken (if the cut off were 41 games).

    Are you sure Slepyshev would be exempt? He has some KHL (pro league) experience

  • 2Oilers4


    Looking around the league, one could create a makeshift protected list for every other team. A lot can change between now and then, but if you were the expansion team GM who would be your first overall 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!

  • Oiler Al

    Few questions I have:

    Each team has 50 man rosters.If you can only protect 11, it means you expose 39 players per team?

    What is the status of a UFA player , or even an unsigned player say from Europe?

    Is the new team obligated to take all 30 players picked?Would assume they are protected by an NHL contract.

    Can the new team sign undrafted juniors or college players.

      • pkam

        Because we may expose Davidson next summer, we shouldn’t add Hamonic this summer if he is available?

        Shouldn’t we keep improving the roster and then determine the best 11 players to protect when time comes?

          • pkam

            Then don’t trade away players that are automatically protected or high draft picks for players that are not automatically protected. Wouldn’t that take care of the problem?

          • Again, like I said before, that’s an even larger reason to try and dump Sekera off on someone ASAP (unless the NHL gets its act together and writes out the rules around this NTC/NMC stuff and says that they don’t need to be protected).

            Who would you rather have, Sekera and Hamonic? Or Vatanen and Hamonic (ignoring the fact that I’ve just assumed there is a 100% chance the Oilers land Hamonic)? I think I’d sooner have the latter. It wouldn’t be a crime to have Sekera and Hamonic though, so who knows. At the same time, it could be hard to position ourselves so that we both moved Sekera and also acquired Vatanen.

            I think there’s a pretty big need on the blueline for an offensive defenseman. Sekera seems to be a bit of a let down in that department to expect him to be that guy. I mean, I like him, I just don’t think he’s the guy who helps run your powerplay like a Vatanen.

            This expansion really puts a bit of a wrinkle in building this team properly.

          • Ron Burgundy

            A couple of points:

            1. It’s not much of a wrinkle – its one guy. (I’m assuming anyway. The past ones only allowed one player to be taken from each team)

            2. If we are somehow in a position 14 months from now or whenever this thing would go down to have more actual NHL defencemen to protect than we do protection spots, lets all do a dance of joy.

            Lets also not forget that we almost certainly don’t get that #1 defenceman we need to protect unless we give up a Hall or an Eberle or a Nugey, so you just take that guy off the list and add the new D-man.

            Lastly, we’ve been talking about “the core” of this team forever, and I think we can all agree it has done jack $#!t. Really, if you protect Drai and Nuge and maybe Maroon, 5 defencemen and Talbot (or 4 and both goalies) do we care if anybody scoops the other forwards? I’m not sure Eberle gets taken in any event, and that’s probably the case with many of the others.

  • Spoils

    great discussion on Lowetide’s radio show about this.

    not sure if it was hour one or two.

    the rules are just the tip of the iceberg. GMs apparently will have side deals with expansion teams to pick certain players etc. all sorts of gamesmanship.

    hopefully we won’t be such an AHL team, but it will be nice to have some other AHL teams for McDavid to destroy.

  • Speed Junky

    what USA loser city gets a NHL team?? crappy

    what a waste of time.

    give Toronto another team or Saskatoon. at least they would have real fans in the stands

    • fasteddy

      Real fans? Those days are mostly long gone pal. The days where the diehards sit in their seats every game, know everyone sitting around them, etc, etc, exist only in lower levels of hockey, not in the show. I don’t care how much we may enjoy our hockey, there’s no city that has 15,000 plus people that can/will pay for 41 games at today’s prices. It’s event viewing now; most go a few times a year, or if your cousin’s boss’s uncle can’t use his seats on short notice. (I know that wasn’t your point really, just stirred the bee in my bonnet that is $200/seat hockey viewing!)

  • NewPants

    We might see K-Boom moved for a D upgrade, making it important to have Andrej Sekera as the clear third best D man.

    Have the best three D so protecting 7 forwards would keep the front lines from being raped..

  • Heschultzhescores

    The Oilers are like a perpetual expansion team and should be allowed to take unprotected players from all of the teams in the league right now…never mind giving some up.

  • Gordie Wayne

    With these expansion rules, the Vegas team is going to end up with a better defense than the Oilers.

    In an article by Greg Wyshinski on PuckDaddy, he went through an exercise to determine who he thought would be protected on each roster and then who the expansion team would pick – check out this lineup:











    I find some of this to be out of whack (i.e. Anaheim losing Andersen and Tampa Bay losing Vasilevsky?) The Vegas goalie depth looks pretty good with those 3.

    Bottom line though, is that D looks as good or better than the Oilers D today…that is sad.

    Link to article:

    • Seanaconda

      The Devils would leave zajac off their list? ? Has he really fallen that far. He must be having a terrible year or they have a far better team than I thought also I could see the ducks losing Andersen they could easily choose Gibson over him.

  • 99 NOW 97

    So Nikitin could essentially be playing for another club and have Connor

    Coming down the wing on one skate schooling this Guy ? or is his street shoes ? Awesome. Good luck in L.V. Nik !!

    You could be on the All Star team with Jultz your Buddy !

  • Pizzy

    “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.”

    HAHAHHAH, Gems? Are you kidding me?

    • DaveChamp

      I also laughed at that. Thought you need to look at the term “gems” in context here – sure, those players aren’t necessarily gems for an NHL team, but they could be viewed as young, solid pick-ups free of charge to an expansion team, especially LB, Reinhart, and Oesterle.

  • Wintoon

    One thought is to ask what would happen if the Oilers were able to really strengthen their D corps this summer and then chose to protect 8 skaters and 1 goalie.

    That might mean protecting 5 D men (Sekera; Hamonic; Vatanen; Davidson and Oesterle) and 3 forwards (i.e. RNH; Draisaitl; Hall). We wouldn’t have to protect McDavid, Nurse or our 2016 pick (Laine?)based on the criteria stated.

    That might result in a very solid core going forward.

  • a lg dubl dubl

    I’m really hoping Bettman gets his head out of his a$$ and brings in Quebec. With the Canadian teams bringing in, what is it, 60% of league revenue, it can only help the NHL having another team in the great white north.

  • 24% body fat

    – SO reinhart will need to be protected but Barzal and Carlo won’t

    – Cant fix the D problem next year because we would surely lose one if we go out and get two

    -Draft pick value is now higher relative to what is was for a nhl player. Meaning Snow may take a 2017 1st for Hamonic instead of Eberle, however this brings a lot of teams in on Hamonic. But No team with 3 defenceman they want to keep would trade for a D anyways

    -As draft pick value goes up and the likely hood of veteran players being taken in expansion look for a lot of deadline deals with players with 1 year more left on there term for really late low value picks.

    Make the moves to necessary to leave us the followin

    Protect’ Hall, Drai, Nuge, Maroon

    Sekera, Klem, Hamonic, Barrie


    Need not protect’ Nurse, McDavid

    Sign’ Stamkos leave Maroon open

    Yak Eberle 2017 1st, picks used to get hamonic and barrie

    Draft a fin.

    2016 1st round pick is no longer in play people

  • toprightcorner

    One would have to guess that to fill the top pairing RD, one of Nuge or Eberle will be traded. They are also likely to sign a second RD and a big Lucic type top 6 forward all of which they may want to protect.

    If you went 7 forwards/3 dmen/goalie the 3 dmen protected would be #1 RD, Klefbom, Sekera (NMC). That means no protecting Davidson or #2 RD they may sign. That would not be the optimum senario.

    If they decided to go 9 skaters and a goalie to protect more dmen,This thins that list out a bit and next summer would likely see the list closer to this

    F – Taylor Hall
    F – Leon Draisaitl

    F – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

    F – Top 6 addition

    D – #1 Right dman

    D – #2 Right dman

    D – Oscar Klefbom

    D – Brandon Davidson

    D – Andrej Sekera (no move clause)

    G – Cam Talbot

    If they only wanted to protect 4 dmen, if they get a #2 RD, I see them being protected over Davidson becasue of the depth on LD. If that is the case, then they would likely forced to trade Davidson in a package for one of those RD so they won’t lose him for nothing. Then you would protect a 5th forward, likely Maroon.

    If you protect the list above, you still have

    top 6 – McDavid – Draisaitl

    Hall – Nuge – Maroon/Kassian

    That is still a killer top 6.

  • Serious Gord

    Jonathon: griffin Reinhart is a “gem”?

    I’m discouraged at what crap these expansion teams would be left with. I wonder if the new owners, faced with the expansion fee, will tell the league to pound sand or come up with a more generous list of players to pick from.

    • toprightcorner

      This is much more generous than any past expansion draft. There should be quite a few 2nd line forwards and top 4 dmen available. Each team will also get a fairly decent goalie. The other advantage they will have is tons of cap room so they can easily over pay to get some UFA’s.

      Their team could look every bit as good as PHX, VAN, MIN or NJ talent wise.

      Not saying they will be great teams, but much better than Atlanta or Florida when they came into the league.

      • Serious Gord

        No way they would be as good as those teams. And these new franchises are going to spend huge money to get in the league – Atlanta and Florida didn’t.

    • RJ

      I’d be more worried that the Oilers’ D would be worse than the expansion team.

      Think about it: Nashville, Anaheim, St. Louis, Chicago have very strong top-4 blueliners. You could put together a top-6 better than Edmonton’s without having to give up any picks or prospects. And they’d have to give one of them up.

      I think it’s more unfair to the teams that have invested a ton of time in drafting and developing these defencemen to lose one for nothing.

          • Seanaconda

            Depends on if you have a really strong defense. And weak forwards. Nashville if they still had Jones would go 9 probably.

            You still only lose one player so if the dman you would be losing is more valuable than the 2 forwards you are protecting if you went 11. Why not go 9?

    • Oilerchild77

      Beggars can’t be choosers. As an established owner, I would tell the new owner to pound sand if they start demanding any of my hard earned established players.

  • I would rather protect Brossoit. He will be younger and cheaper l. By 2017-18 he’ll be playing 1B minutes. That’s a tough choice to make but you have to see what New York did, they protected the young up and coming Richter instead of the proven Beezer and it ultimately payed off

  • Word to the Bird

    I think the rules for the expansion draft are a little too generous. Why should Vegas be awarded a good team just because they’re the new kids on the block?

  • hagar

    They should scale the amount of players a team can protect in order of least to most, to correspond with the finishing position of teams the year previous from best to worst.

    The expansion teams should be stuck with crappy fourth line players like everyone else. Grab some decent players off teams like Chicago, then by the time they get to us (if we still suck,) then they can have what we have on our fourth line as a player for their fourth line.

    • MorningOwl

      wow, that was deep. last thing an Oiler fan wants is any mechanism that lets another team pick more than its fair shair of good picks, right? hahaha seriously. bad. take.

  • Doctor Smashy

    It is fun to think about who the Oilers would protect but honestly, what are the odds that an expansion team is going to use a pick to get someone from the oilers. I love the Oilers but let’s be real. An expansion team is going to pick 1 or 2 players from each team…and it is a long list from each team to choose from. The Oilers need to put a list together but I don’t see anyone getting picked. Especially from our D corps…

    • Seanaconda

      They get to pick one player from each team so they will take one of our players. So the odds are about 100% if you would wanna bet. The player they take from us may be traded or sent to the ahl but they won’t skip our pick.

  • @Hallsy4

    We are a 29th place team and our best forward and potentially future best D man (Nurse) are automatically protected. The expansion draft does not worry me one bit… I am a sekera fan but by the time of the expansion draft he may start to be trending downhill and his contract is high… I agree with the signing of him because we had to do it, but with our young D and log jam on the left side (if nurse, klef, Davidson ect develop), Vegas might be doing us a favor by taking him.

  • @Hallsy4

    They could shorten the list by 2 (yak,pouliot) and It still wouldn’t really hurt the Oilers. This actually might help us as some of the strong teams will lose good players, evening the playing field a bit. The negativity is strong tonight

  • Anton CP

    It is fun to have something to talk about but the Oilers may not have anything to worry about expansion draft at all. In the end that not a heck of a lot players are going to be attractive from a bottom place team to expansions.