After months and months of speculation, the NHL will add a 31st team in Las Vegas beginning in the 2017-18 season.
It’s finally official: the NHL will be the first major sport to enter the Las Vegas market as the Board of Governors approved an expansion team for the 2017-18 season which will directly impact the San Jose Sharks.
Beginning in two season, the new Las Vegas franchise will compete in the Pacific Division as San Jose will be frequent visitors to T-Mobile Arena.
It should be very interesting to see how the new team will fare and intriguing to see how the expansion draft will impact team teal and the rest of the NHL.
According to the NHL, teams will have two different options in terms of protecting players on their current roster:
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Also, anybody with a no-movement clause will be exempt along with any first-or-second-year professionals who won’t count towards their teams allocations.
That’s good news for team teal who won’t have to expose key youngsters such as Timo Meier or Nikolay Goldobin who both could see time with the Sharks next year.
The new team will select one player from each of the other 30 franchises so San Jose will be losing a player. The Las Vegas franchise must select 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders.
The Sharks won’t have any decision to make in goal as they will simply protect Martin Jones who will be entering his prime at this point in time.
On the blue line, assuming San Jose extends Brent Burns before this takes place, team teal will protect Burns, Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Justin Braun. That would leave the potential for Paul Martin to be exposed which wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world as he would be getting up there in age with a decent-sized contract the Sharks could unload.
Up front, the locks to protect are certainly Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture, Joe Thornton, Joonas Donskoi, Chris Tierney and Tomas Hertl. The most interesting situation to monitor would be whether Patrick Marleau is still around in teal when the draft rolls around; otherwise, that would open up the option for someone like Melker Karlsson being protected.
That would leave Joel Ward as a likely exposed player, who falls into a similar category as Martin, someone who would be getting older and older on a contract the Sharks wouldn’t mind getting out of.
All-in-all, Sharks fans should be excited about the possibilities with the new Las Vegas franchise which should provide a great road trip opportunity for many teal clad fans to support their favorite team in Sin City.