No official word has come down on the possibility of expansion to Las Vegas or Quebec City, but the NHL and league GMs want to make sure they’re prepared for whatever happens following this week’s GM meetings in Florida.
TSN’s Bob McKenzie reported Monday afternoon that GMs will learn this week about expansion draft possibilities from NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly. Again, there’s no certainty that expansion is coming to both or either of Las Vegas or Quebec City, but the NHL wants to have a plan in place should they decide to bring in one or both teams into the mix via the currently ongoing expansion process.
The league has not undergone an expansion draft since June 2000 and much has changed since that time, especially with the creation of a hard salary cap in the league. As part of the process of creating a mock up of what such a draft may look like, McKenzie reported the NHL has retained former Canucks assistant GM Laurence Gilman.
Gilman, who was let go by the Canucks in July 2015, spent seven seasons with the Canucks as vice president of hockey operations and assistant GM, before which he served nine seasons as a member of the then-Phoenix Coyotes organization. With the Coyotes, Gilman worked as the GM of Phoenix’s AHL squad, as well as assistant GM and moved up the ranks from director of hockey operations to senior vice president by the time he was let go by the team in April 2007.
Gilman was around the Coyotes during the 1998, 1999 and 2000 expansion drafts, and his experience with each might help determine a process for creating a potential draft should the league decide to expand. The league will have to create guidelines for protection, but the three most recent expansion drafts might give us an indication what that would look like.
The past three expansion drafts allowed teams to protect either one goaltender, five defensemen and nine forwards or two goaltenders, five defensemen and seven forwards. At the 2000 expansion draft for the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild, every team except the Nashville Predators and Atlanta Thrashers (entire roster protected) had to expose a goaltender with 10 games played the previous season or 25 over a two-year period, and at least two forwards and one defenseman with 40 games of experience the year prior or 70 over the course of two seasons. The guidelines may not be the same for any upcoming drafts, but the rules could be similar.
In terms of the salary cap, another likely reason for Gilman’s inclusion in the process is that he has experience as the Canucks’ “capologist” during his time in Vancouver. Working within the boundaries of the salary cap will likely add a new wrinkle to the draft. McKenzie added other GMs may also join the process along with Gilman in order to “refine the process.”