It’s time for the NHL’s top general managers to start thinking about which prospects will go where in free agency this summer, as the NHL takes a major step toward the next phase of its cap-clearing plan.
The league has already committed $1.3 billion to the expansion draft in 2018, but there are still several more rounds to go.
Teams can still exceed that cap by signing players on a one-year, no-movement basis, and they can’t exceed it by using the Expansion Draft as compensation for the player who is not included in that round.
The Oilers will be allowed to add players who are not included by the expansion pool in order to fill out their roster in the Expansion draft, but it won’t be until the first round that the draft will actually happen.
Here are the teams that have already made moves: Edmonton Oilers: Edmonton acquired forward Kevin Fiala from Ottawa in exchange for defenceman Scott Gomez and a fourth-round pick in the 2018 NHL Entry Draft.
Edmonton’s first pick in that draft is likely defenseman Josh Manson, who was selected in the third round (No. 71 overall) by the Vancouver Canucks in 2018.
Winnipeg Jets: The Jets sent forward Michael Frolik to the Calgary Flames for defenseman Nick Leddy, a fourth round pick (No, 57 overall) in 2018 and forward Connor Hellebuyck.
Winnipeg also acquired defenseman Josh Morrissey from the New York Islanders in exchange and defenseman Niklas Kronwall from the Detroit Red Wings.
Winnipeg traded forwards Brandon Dubinsky, Mattias Backman, and Kevin Frolick to the Columbus Blue Jackets for defenseman Andrew MacDonald, forward Ryan Murphy, a third-round draft pick (NHL rights traded to New York), forward Brett Ritchie, a second-round selection (Nolan Patrick rights traded), forward Jacob Trouba, a fifth-round choice (No., 61 overall) and defenseman Anthony Peluso.
Buffalo Sabres: The Sabres sent forwards Brandon Davidson and Ryan O’Reilly to the Toronto Maple Leafs for forward Andrew MacDonald and a third round pick in 2018 (Norsemen rights traded).
Buffalo also acquired forward Brendan Lemieux from the Pittsburgh Penguins for forward Ryan Miller and a first-round round pick.
Edmonton Oilers forward Kevin LeBlanc, left, and Calgary Flames forward Sam Bennett talk during a press conference before the Oilers game against the Vancouver Flames at Commonwealth Stadium in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, June 28, 2018.
The Sabres also acquired forwards Brandon Fialal and Nick Foligno from the Calgary Ducks for a fourth, fifth and sixth-round picks in the draft.
Edmonton has one of the most robust prospects pools in the league and has been looking to upgrade its prospect pool for some time.
The club’s top six prospects will be eligible to be traded for at least one player during the Expansion Pool, and the Oilers are expected to make a major splash when it does.
The draft picks the Oilers received from Calgary will go to the Sabres, and all players in the pool will have to be dealt before the start of the expansion period.
Edmonton will not have a top-six defenceman, as its top-four prospects will have a combined value of $5.1 million.
In the expansion pools, Edmonton’s top-nine prospects will all be eligible for unrestricted free agency, as they were in the past.
The expansion pool also includes a top prospect in defenceman Jordan Eberle, and a top pair in forward Dylan Strome and defenceman Christian Dvorak.
The Jets will be able to add defenceman Sam Bennett, a first round pick, and forwards Jacob Troubal and Christian Dolan, a sixth-rounder, in return for goaltender Connor Helenecker.
Vancouver Canucks: The Canucks are in a similar situation as Edmonton, but the Canucks will have three selections in the expansion drafts.
The first round will be a first and third overall selection in 2018 by the New Jersey Devils, and Vancouver will add forwards Daniel Sedin and Erik Gudbranson in return.
Vancouver also acquired goalie Jake Virtanen and a second round pick from the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange.
New Jersey will add defencemen Jannik Hansen and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in return, while Vancouver will acquire defencemen Daniel Paille and Kevin Bieksa in exchange, and winger Kevin Biek will receive a second and third round selection in 2019.
Ottawa Senators: The Senators are also in a very similar situation to Edmonton, with two picks in this year’s draft.
The Senators will have defenseman Erik Karlsson, who has five goals and six assists for 15 points in 54 games with the Ottawa Senators this season, and forward J.T. Compher, who is averaging 13:06 of ice time per game this season.
Ottawa also acquired a third and fourth round selection (first overall) from the Anaheim Ducks in return in exchange of defenceman Zack Kassian.
Toronto Maple Leaf defenceman Michael Grabner is eligible to become