Broadcast Blog: Expansion Draft

In the hockey world, there are typically four major events that occur in June: the awarding of the Stanley, Calder, and Kelly Cups, and the holding of the annual NHL Entry Draft.

This offseason is a little different.

You might have heard that Las Vegas was awarded the NHL’s 31st franchise last summer. When the Vegas Golden Knights take the ice at T-Mobile Arena in October, they will do so with a roster that was largely built from the Expansion Draft that will be held on Wednesday.

There’s a lot of details and rules for the Expansion Draft, but the gist of it all is:

Each of the existing 30 NHL franchises has to follow these rules:

  • Each team has submitted a protected list to designate which players on their current roster cannot be taken by the Golden Knights for nothing in return.
  • Protected lists can be structured as follows:
    • Seven forwards, three defensemen, one goalie
    • Eight skaters, one goalie
  • Players with a no-movement clause that haven’t waived their clause are required to be included as part of the protected list.
  • Any first- or second-year player is exempt from the expansion draft and won’t count toward the protection limits. Same goes for any unsigned rookies too.
  • Each team has to expose at least two forwards, one defenseman and one goalie that meet certain conditions.

Vegas, meanwhile, has to meet the following conditions:

  • Vegas has to select one exposed player from each of the other 30 franchises.
  • At least 20 of those players must be under contract for 2017-18.
  • They’ll need to select at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goalies.
  • “The Las Vegas franchise must select players with an aggregate Expansion Draft value that is between 60-100% of the prior season’s upper limit for the salary cap.” There’s no easy way to say it, other than just refer to CapFriendly.
  • Any player picked by Vegas cannot be traded back to their former team until January 1, 2018.

How does this relate to the Solar Bears, you might be asking? A few former Solar Bears who now play in the NHL could potentially be on the move.

While Ryan Reaves was protected by the St. Louis Blues, three former Solar Bears goalies – Christopher Gibson (N.Y. Islanders), Darcy Kuemper (Minnesota) and Garret Sparks (Toronto) – were left unprotected by their clubs.

Remember – the Golden Knights need to take three goalies in the expansion draft, and although it’s entirely possible none of the players in question will be heading to Nevada, I can’t help but think that one in particular might be a natural fit in the Live Entertainment Capital of the World:

Elsewhere around the hockey world and the ECHL:

– June 16 marked the first day ECHL teams could announce signings. No news from the Solar Bears…yet. Stay tuned for some updates soon!

REALIGNMENT! Actually, the new alignment for conferences and divisions for 2017-18 isn’t too hard to guess, with Jacksonville and Worcester coming into the league. The IceMen naturally join the Solar Bears in the South Division, the Railers HC slot into the North, and Cincinnati – a member of the South Division in 2016-17 – moves back into the Western Conference, where they’re reunited with in-state rival Toledo in the Central Division.

It was confirmed at league meetings last week in Las Vegas that Portland will join the ECHL for the 2018-19 season. I called it in the last broadcast blog, so I’ll treat myself to a lobster roll if the Solar Bears take a road trip up to Cross Insurance Arena next season.

– The ECHL affiliation carousel continues to cycle, as the Rapid City Rush have linked up with the Minnesota Wild for the upcoming season, while the Wichita Thunder announced this afternoon that they’re going with the Edmonton Oilers. Adirondack, Fort Wayne, Jacksonville and Tulsa remain without affiliations with NHL clubs for the upcoming season.

– All NHL teams will unveil the home (dark) versions of their new Adidas-manufactured jerseys in an event this evening. Jersey blog Icethetics has a good write-up on all of the expected changes – for most teams, however, it’s believed that there will simply be a matter of adapting the current jersey design to the Adidas ADIZERO template. The AHL and ECHL will continue to use the Reebok Edge template for their jerseys. As of this blog being written, we’ve seen two jerseys appear to have been accidentally leaked.

– Lastly, gotta give a shoutout to Arizona Coyotes captain Shane Doan, who was told yesterday that he would not be offered a contract to return for his 22nd season with the only franchise he’s ever played for. Solar Bears head coach Drake Berehowsky was a teammate of Doan’s for parts of two seasons in the desert in the early 2000s; when I asked Drake what he remembered about playing with Doan, he offered a glowing review of Doan as the consummate professional and teammate, and shared a nice anecdote in which he recalled that Doan and his family took Drake’s daughter horseback riding upon Drake’s trade to the Coyotes from Vancouver!

Jesse Liebman is the Director of Communications & Broadcasting for the Solar Bears and enters his third season in Orlando in 2017-18. You can e-mail him at with questions, comments or blog ideas.