Carolina Hurricanes Largely Unaffected by NHL Expansion


The Carolina Hurricanes likely won’t be affected negatively by the looming NHL Expansion Draft.

The NHL hasn’t expanded since 2000 when the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild came into the league. Over the past couple of years, the league has been exploring expansion by one or more franchises. With the latest league realignment, the NHL created unbalanced conferences, opening the door for two teams to join the West to re-balance.

The NHL has been interested in expanding to the three locations of Las Vegas, Quebec City, and Seattle. Only Quebec City and Las Vegas officially submitted expansion proposals last July. Recently, with the weakening of the Canadian Dollar, it has been reported that Quebec City’s expansion bid will likely be turned down by the league.

With the league expanding, there will be an expansion draft to populate the new team(s). The league recently announced that they will be making a formal decision on how many teams will be added in June of this year by the entry draft.

Draft Format Information

For every team that the league adds, every other team will have to give up one player in an expansion draft. The GM meetings have started the process of coming up with the rules for the draft. This expansion cycle will be different that previous ones, the NHL wants the new teams to be competitive immediately.

This means that teams will not be able to protect as many players in the expansion draft, these are the rules under the first proposal:

  • Teams can protect 3 defenseman and 7 forwards OR 8 total skaters regardless of the position
  • Only one Goalie can be protected regardless of the skaters they protect.
  • Players in their first two years of their entry level contract are exempt from the expansion draft. The two years start the first time they step on the ice in the NHL or AHL. Players entering the third year of ELC are exempt.
  • Expansion teams will have to be able to reach the salary floor.

No decision has been made on whether or not players with no move clauses will be eligible for the draft. Teams will want to be able to move players with high salaries that are otherwise unmovable but the NHLPA will most likely fight this because no move clauses are very player friendly. AHL players will also be eligible for the draft, so teams will not be able to stash players in the minors.

Related Story: Breaking Down Controversial Goal Against Caps

Every team will likely have to make a top 4 defenseman and a top 9 forward eligible. This plus some teams trying to dump salary of older players will mean that the expansion teams will be better stocked than in years past. The last expansion draft allowed teams to protect their entire top three forward lines and their top two defensive pairings and goaltenders.

How does it Affect the Carolina Hurricanes?

The expansion draft will most likely happen in June of 2017, after the Stanley Cup Finals, but before the entry draft. This means that most of the Carolina Hurricanes young talent will be protected, which is great for the team. Assuming that players with no move clauses are not exempt to the draft, here is the Hurricanes protected list may look like:

*Note: Some players below have expiring contracts prior to the expansion draft. This is under the assumption that all current notable players are still on the roster.

Protected Forwards: Jordan Staal, Jeff Skinner, Victor Rask, Elias Lindholm, Joakim Nordstrom, Andrej Nestrasil, Phil Di Giuseppe

Protected Defensemen: Justin Faulk, James Wisniewski, Ryan Murphy

Protected Goalies: Eddie Lack

Notable Exempt Players: Noah Hanifin, Brett Pesce, Jaccob Slavin, Andrew Poturalski, any players drafted in 2015 and 2016

Notable Eligible Forwards: Brock McGinn, Derek Ryan, Chris Terry, Riley Nash, Nathan Gerbe, Zach Boychuk, Brad Malone, Jay McClement 

Notable Eligible Defensemen: Michal Jordan, Ron Hainsey 

Notable Eligible Goalies: Cam Ward, Daniel Altshuler, John Muse

Carolina Hurricanes
Carolina Hurricanes /

Carolina Hurricanes

Luckily, some of the Carolina Hurricanes’ largest contributors have been rookies this year and will be ineligible for selection. This means that the Hurricanes are able to protect more of their players than many other teams will be able to. If no move/trade clause players are made available, the Canes could have the option of leaving Jordan Staal eligible if they are trying to dump a player with a high salary, though that will be unlikely if he continues to play at the high level he is currently playing at.

Teams with more veterans such as the Chicago Blackhawks and the Los Angeles Kings will lose larger pieces than a team like the Hurricanes. One of the most curious teams is the Pittsburgh Penguins. They will be able to protect all of their elite skaters but will have an interesting decision to make on goaltenders. They will only be able to keep either Marc-Andre Fleury OR Matt Murray who is regarded as one of the best young goalies in the league.

Next: The Good and the Bad of the Hurricanes Season

Regardless of how many teams get added and how many players the Hurricanes may lose, GM Ron Francis‘ ability to stock the organization with young talent will pay off in an unexpected way. The Canes’ young core will likely remain entirely intact with a smaller loss than many other teams will feel around the expansion draft. This is just another way Francis has excelled at putting this team together.