Don’t Worry, Blackhawks Fans, We’re Safe!

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Stephanie Racker On Wednesday, November 23, the NHL released the official name and logo of their newest expansion team—the Las Vegas Golden Knights. When I first heard rumors last season that Las Vegas might be gunning for a chance to host the next NHL expansion team, I honestly didn’t think much of it. The last official expansion was during the 2000-2001 season (I was only one year old), so I haven’t had much experience with the actual effect of adding an expansion team to the league. However, shortly after rumors started circulating about the possibility of a new team for the 2017-2018 NHL season, I was quickly introduced to the consequences that adding an expansion team has for the remaining NHL teams, particularly the Chicago Blackhawks. In order to physically build a roster, expansion teams are required to select one current player from each NHL team. This allows the new team (in this case, the Las Vegas Golden Knights) to acquire 30 players in total. After I learned of this, I began to feel pretty panicked; would this mean that the Las Vegas Golden Knights could pick and choose whomever they please from the Blackhawks roster, whether it was a star player like Patrick Kane or a productive rookie like Ryan Hartman? Either way, the looming possibility of this event began to worry me just a bit. However, my nerves were eased slightly when I realized I had overlooked one crucial piece of information: the Protected Players List. This list enables each current NHL hockey club to protect either seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender (eleven total players—option 1) or eight skaters (forwards and defensemen) plus one goaltender (nine total players—option 2) from the expansion team’s selection. At first glance, it might seem counterintuitive for an NHL team to choose option 2 (eight skaters and one goalie) because they’d be “protecting” two fewer players. This decision will vary depending on the team. If a team have an exceptional string of offensive players, for example, it might be more beneficial for them to protect valuable forwards. In the case of the Chicago Blackhawks, however, it might make more sense for them to choose option 1 (eleven players) because so many of their key players have “no-movement” contract clauses. In general, a no-movement clause is pretty self explanatory. Under certain NHL player’s contracts (typically long-term), the player in question is prohibited from being traded to another NHL team, sent to a minor league team of any kind, or removed from their current NHL team without that player’s permission. There are seven Chicago Blackhawks players with no-movement clauses in their contracts, which means that the team is required to protect them under the expansion Protected Players List. The no-movement clause players on the Hawks are Jonathan Toews (forward), Patrick Kane (forward), Marian Hossa (forward), Duncan Keith (defense), Niklas Hjalmarsson (defense), Brent Seabrook (defense), and Corey Crawford (goaltender). With these seven players automatically exempt from selection, under option 1, only four more forwards can be protected (the Hawks would have already protected the maximum number of allowed goalies and defensemen using the “no-clause” scenario). To further complicate things, all NHL teams must take into account the “rookie” status of a player. Those who have played two seasons or fewer in the NHL are automatically exempt from expansion team selection. For the Chicago Blackhawks, this means that six of their forwards and two of their defensemen would be “saved” from the Las Vegas Golden Knights’ consideration. Armed with all of this information, I realize that there probably isn’t too much to fret about. In the end, out of the Chicago Blackhawks 24 player roster, Las Vegas will only be allowed to pick one player out of the five remaining unprotected players. So to all Latin students fretting about how the NHL expansion would affect the Blackhawks, or whatever their favorite team may be, rest assured.]]>