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theScore's NHL expansion concept: Black Knights, Nordiques have rosters take shape


Wondering what NHL expansion will look like? Yeah, us too. In fact, it has our wheels spinning pretty good.

Welcome to theScore's NHL expansion concept, where we bring the league's flirtation with the process to reality. Now, this comes with a disclaimer: This is STRICTLY fantasy and simulation. Expansion is very much in its infancy. And thus, the method to which we determine the rules, cities, teams, and players involved is 100 percent improvisational and speculative.

All that said, it's fun to look ahead, to imagine what might be possible, and to crystal-ball 2017-18. So with that:

Welcome to the 2017-18 NHL Expansion Draft results, where the Las Vegas Black Knights and Quebec Nordiques, led by Wayne Gretzky and Julien BriseBois, respectively, have decided on rosters for the teams' debut seasons from a pool of players exposed to the draft by their parent clubs.

The rules, loosely based on the 2000 expansion results, are as follows:

  1. The NHL's 30 existing teams can protect up to nine forwards, five defenseman and one goaltender
  2. Players who have burned a season on their entry-level contract as of Sept. 1, 2015 are considered eligible. For example, Anthony Duclair had to be protected by the Arizona Coyotes. Max Domi did not.
  3. Expansion teams can choose no more than one player from each team.
  4. Rosters must come in above the floor, but below a salary cap that has inflated to an estimated $75-million.

Now, it's important to note this is an entirely different hockey climate than in 2000. With the cap weighing on many clubs, GMs are much more inclined to expose big-name, big-money players in an effort to clean up their payrolls, or starting heading in an entirely new direction. The draft is a tremendous and novel opportunity for existing clubs - if they can get either Las Vegas or Quebec to bite.

At the same time, the expansion clubs will have a chance to design highly competitive rosters and handpick players who fit their individual markets to add to their 2017 lottery selection, which will hopefully go a long way in establishing firm roots.

Here's how the rosters shook down after the 48-man draft:

Las Vegas Black Knights

Rick Nash Eric Staal Nail Yakupov
David Perron Joe Thornton Matt Read
Jiri Sekac Zack Smith Jared Boll
Jordan Nolan Casey Cizikas Anthony Peluso
Mark Arcobello Paul Byron
Jay Bouwmeester Brooks Orpik
Marco Scandella Matt Bartkowski
Jordie Benn Eric Gelinas
Brandon Gormley Zach Redmond
Ben Bishop
Dustin Tokarski

Payroll estimate: $69.34 million

Potential Free Agent Targets: Patrick Sharp, Alex Steen, Brent Burns

Things of note:

  • Las Vegas is delighted to have Nash, Staal, and Thornton usher the Black Knights into existence. The Vegas braintrust believes the decorated trio represent the ideal groups of ambassadors to introduce hockey to an impressionable marketplace. Between them, they have four Olympic gold medals, 16 All-Star appearances, a Rocket Richard Trophy, Hart Trophy, and a Stanley Cup.
  • The Black Knights were quick to pounce on Bishop, a goaltender who they believe is among the game's elite. Bishop led the Tampa Bay Lightning to the Stanley Cup Final in 2015, but was pushed out of his crease with the emergence of Andrei Vasilevskiy.
  • After another bridge contract sees Yakupov fail to mesh with the burgeoning group in Edmonton, the Oilers cut ties with the former No. 1 overall pick. Vegas believes the young Russian can bring fans out of their seats.
  • Though Bouwmeester and Orpik will represent Las Vegas's top pair, the acquisition of Scandella is considered a coup. With Ryan Suter and Jonas Brodin under long-term control and Jared Spurgeon, Matt Dumba, and Mike Reilly commanding minutes and dollars, Chuck Fletcher exposes an effective and controllable young defenseman.

Quebec Nordiques

Bryan Bickell Henrik Zetterberg Jason Pominville
Brad Marchand Paul Stastny Nikolai Kulemin
Jussi Jokinen Markus Granlund Linden Vey
Nicolas Deslauriers Trevor Lewis Devante Smith-Pelly
Stefan Matteau Cody Hodgson
Dion Phaneuf Dan Girardi
Cody Franson Johnny Oduya
Ian Cole Kevin Connauton
Dmitry Orlov Ben Chiarot
John Gibson
Alex Stalock

Payroll estimate: $68.70 million

Potential Free Agent Targets: Antoine Vermette, Thomas Vanek, Chris Kunitz

Things of note:

  • Unable to resist the lure of his lineage, Quebec takes on the final season of Stastny's lucrative annual salary from St. Louis. Paul's father, Peter, is the all-time leading scorer in Nordiques history, and will have his jersey hung to the rafters on opening night.
  • The Maple Leafs get out from underneath Phaneuf's contract and he remains an NHL captain, assuming the letter in Quebec. The Nordiques believe they already have the support Phaneuf didn't receive in Toronto.
  • Quebec gladly accepts the final three seasons of Zetterberg's contract to acquire leadership and a veteran presence at a premium position, but also with the understanding that his talents are fading.
  • The Nordiques acquire the rights to negotiate with both Bickell and Marchand, scheduled for unrestricted free agency that summer.
  • Quebec, too, locks down a potential franchise netminder, but a much more youthful option in Gibson after the Ducks opt to protect Frederick Andersen.

Payroll estimates are based on current salaries, market projections.

Images designed are for entertainment purposes only.

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