NHL sets pre-expansion draft transaction rules for Vegas

Earlier today the NHL certified the $500-milllion payment made by the Vegas Golden Knights ownership group and officially announced them as a the league’s 31st franchise.

With this major step in the process out of the way, the Golden Knights can begin construction of their roster prior to the June 21 expansion draft.

Here are the guidelines from the NHL as to what they can and can’t do. If you glaze over at the sight of legalese, we’ll highlight a few main points.

Bona Fide Transactions: Effective today, Vegas may now enter into Trades and Waiver Transactions or sign Players to NHL SPCs in accordance with CBA Section 50.8(d) or a Player Transfer Agreement (a “bona fide transaction”). Any bona fide transactions involving current Players must specify the identity of each and every such Player(s) at the time the transaction is entered into.

Eligibility for Bona Fide Transactions: Only Players who have completed their 2016-17 season (except UDCs) can be included in a bona fide transaction completed between today’s date and the conclusion of the Expansion Draft (on Wednesday, June 21, 2017). A Player whom Vegas has agreed to claim or not claim in the Expansion Draft as part of a bona fide transaction will similarly be required to have completed his 2016-17 season before the transaction can be completed and approved. A Player will be considered to have completed his 2016-17 season if he played under an NHL contract for an NHL Club or one or more of the NHL Club’s Minor League affiliates during the 2016-17 season, and he is no longer eligible to play for his NHL Club or any of its Minor League affiliates in 2016-17.

Waiver Priority Order: Vegas will be placed in between the 2nd and 3rd to last place Clubs in the Waiver Priority Order from today’s date until October 31, 2017, inclusive (although Waiver Claims by Vegas can only be made with respect to otherwise eligible Players).

Continued Compliance with Expansion Agreement: A Club that has agreed which Player it will lose in the Expansion Draft pursuant to a bona fide trade transaction shall continue to be obligated to comply with all other aspects and requirements of the Expansion Draft Rules (e.g., protection and exposure rules, compliance with critical dates, etc.).

Transfer of Players between Reserve Lists: All Players who are Traded or claimed on Waivers in connection with a bona fide transaction will be placed on the appropriate Club’s Reserve List immediately. Players who are selected in the Expansion Draft pursuant to a bona fide trade transaction will be placed on Vegas’ Reserve List only after all Expansion selections have been approved by Central Registry.

Disclosure: For purposes of transparency, any bona fide transaction will be subject to the League’s usual disclosure procedures in the context of Player Trades (i.e., all Trade and Waiver-related details must be fully disclosed to the League and the NHLPA, but Clubs will maintain the discretion whether to disclose those details publicly).

Penalties for Non-Compliance: Any Club, including Vegas, that acts in violation of these provisions will be subject to the penalties set out in Article 26 of the CBA (“No Circumvention”).

A couple things that stick out.

Teams can now trade with Vegas up to the date of the expansion draft. This was the case about an hour before the trade deadline ended today.

Strictly speaking, there won’t be any official trades between NHL teams and Vegas the rest of the season. Players are not eligible to join the Golden Knights until they finish out their 2016-17 contract in the NHL (or their minor league affiliate) either at the end of the regular season or when they’re eliminated from the playoffs.

That doesn’t mean Vegas can’t start lining up transactions in the interim.

If Vegas and another team come to a deal – whether it be to trade a player for picks when he’s eligible or set up an agreement to take a certain player in the expansion draft – both sides have to report the transaction to the league and the NHLPA.

HOWEVER – and this is important – it is up to the teams involved as to whether they want to announce this detail publicly prior to the expansion draft. We’ll see who is able to keep that secret until June.

Lastly, Vegas will get waiver priority between the second-to-last and third-to-last place teams starting today through October 31, 2017. Again, it’s unlikely the Knights will grab anyone off waivers now because the player has to be done with his 2016-17 season first.