As fun as these Stanley Cup Playoffs have been, this season they merely exist as an appetizer.
The NHL sent out a press release Thursday to update the “critical” dates pertaining to the fast-approaching Expansion Draft, serving up some clarity on the parameters set forth for George McPhee’s Vegas Golden Knights and reminding us just how loony the next month figures to be.
Here are the notable dates:
June 12: Teams that are due to submit a protected list, excluding those preoccupied with a (potential) Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, have until this point to request players with no-movement protection to waive that immunity. The Penguins and Predators will be extended until 5 p.m. ET the day after the Cup is raised, meaning a Marc-Andre Fleury sit-down could occur up to three days after, say, Kevin Bieksa is called into Bob Murray’s office.
June 15: One day after a (potential) Game 7 marks the beginning of the first buy-out period. Teams face the deadline to formally request that players surrender their “No move” for the purpose of a buy out.
June 16: This is last chance for general managers to place players on waivers before the Expansion Draft/Trade freeze. Meanwhile, players asked to waive their protection to accommodate the expansion strategy have until 5 p.m. ET to agree.
June 17: The freeze commences. Non-expansion teams simultaneously submit their protected lists, which puts a full stop on activity outside the Vegas boardroom.
June 18: Protected lists are dispersed league-wide (this includes Vegas) by the NHL, and the Golden Knights officially have the floor. The free agent interview period opens for the expansion club from the moment the lists are distributed. This only applies to players who have been exposed.
June 21: Vegas must submit its selections, including any standard player contract signed with a restricted or unrestricted free agent by 10 a.m. ET. The selections will be announced later that night in concurrence with the NHL Awards.
June 22: The freeze is lifted, allowing all 31 teams to resume normal day-to-day business. This comes literally just in time for the NHL Draft, which begins the next day because things aren’t chaotic enough.
With so much maneuvering required before the expansion draft, there should be an incredible flurry of activity over the remaining 15 days before the embargo. It will be interesting to see how this overlaps with the Stanley Cup Final, which could end as soon as Monday or persist until up to three days before final decisions must be made. How long can teams realistically wait before being forced to steal a little thunder?
The teams competing in the Cup Final are in a bit of a bind here with plenty to be concerned about beyond what’s happening on the ice. Jim Rutherford and David Poile, two general managers with huge decisions to make, are really going to have to make things happen in short order. Maybe delay the parade?
This is seriously gonna be nuts.