NHL announces new franchise in Las Vegas for next year

Dylan Spilko, Staff Writer

Expansion teams are not a common occurrence in the National Hockey League; only one new team has been introduced over the past decade.  The most recent expansion team was the revival of the Winnipeg Jets, who branched off of the former Atlanta Thrashers.

However, with the upcoming 2017-2018 NHL season comes the new Vegas Golden Knights.  Unlike the Winnipeg Jets, who were a former NHL team, the newly founded Golden Knights are the first of their kind in the Las Vegas hockey department.  They will be the eighth team in the Pacific Division and the 15th team added to the Western Conference.  The newest NHL team will start from scratch as the team’s General Manager, George McPhee, looks to build a successful squad for the upcoming season.

Creating a successful expansion team starts with creating the front office for the organization.  The owner of the hockey club, William P. Foley, hired General Manager George McPhee to run the team.  The Golden Knights will build the team over the offseason, in what’s called an expansion draft.

Each NHL organization must give up a few players from their roster in order to create a new team.  The upcoming 2017 expansion draft does have a set of rules to it, however.  All of the NHL teams have the right to protect certain players on their roster, preferably their young and rising stars who have contracts that are beneficial to their team.

Each team has two protection options, one of them including to keep seven offensive players, three defenders, and one goaltender. But, all players that have a contract that permits a no-trade clause will not be drafted by Vegas when draft time arrives.  The Las Vegas franchise must select one player from each presently existing club for a total of 30 players, consisting of at least 14 forwards, nine defenseman, and three goaltenders.

All 30 NHL clubs must submit their protection list by June 17, 2017, and then the Vegas organization submits their selections no more than three days after that date.

Building a brand new franchise requires the acquisitions of young and talented hockey players, and the Golden Knights will accomplish this feat by receiving a guaranteed high draft pick for the upcoming NHL draft. The Las Vegas franchise will be given the same odds in the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery as the team finishing with the third-fewest points during the 2016-17 regular season.  As a result, the team will receive a draft pick that is no lower that the sixth overall pick.

The Vegas franchise then will select third in each round of the 2017 NHL Draft, not accounting for any draft day trades or pick swaps.  The Vegas Golden Knights will begin the building of a young roster on NHL Draft day in the league’s offseason.

The Golden Knights are already eyeing a few key players that might be the perfect suitors for the newly born organization.  General Manager McPhee has stated that the club will be focused on “bubble players” that the team will look to add in the future.

“There’s going to be a massive player redistribution before the expansion draft in the weeks leading up to it,” said McPhee.  “We understand teams are going to try to not give us anything, and that’s the way expansion goes.”

Some of the players that the Golden Knights are interested in include Blackhawks defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk, Blackhawks center Marcus Kruger, and probably the team’s most enticing option, Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Ben Bishop.  The Golden Knights have made it clear that they will not take on large contracts, so it will be interesting to see how everything plays out for the Vegas team pending the expansion draft.

The Golden Knights have also faced other problems outside of the expansion draft.  The new franchise has had some difficulty trademarking their name.  Recently, the U.S. patent office denied the Golden Knights’ trademark application.  The Golden Knights name is also shared by the University of Central Florida, the United States Army Parachute team, and the College of Saint Rose, who obtained a trademark for the name in 2004.

“The nature of the applicant’s and registrant’s services is similar,” said the U.S. patent office.  “Both offer sports entertainment of a kind available in the same venues, broadcast on television, and are generally available to the same class of consumers.”

The Vegas Golden Knights will be looking to make a splash during their first 2017-2018  NHL season, and they will be the first hockey team to be a part of Las Vegas.