The trade lines are technically open, so another Scott Darling surprise could fall out of the executive offices above 1400 Edwards Mill Road at any time. But in addition to randomness, there is a defined schedule that will drive parts of the summer dealing and the Hurricanes’ moves to build the team’s 2017-18 opening day roster.
Details were provided this week on the expansion draft schedule this week, so with that in hand, here is a guide to the NHL’s summer schedule, when certain other things are likely to occur and Hurricanes’ impacts from it all.
The NHL expansion draft schedule
June 12: Deadline for teams to ask players to waive no-movement clauses to be exposed to the expansion draft. (Pittsburgh and Nashville would get a few extra days if they are playing obviously.)
June 16 at 5pm: Players asked to waive no-movement clauses must notify teams on whether they agree or not.
June 16: Last day for waivers before the expansion draft.
June 17 at 3pm: A trade and roster freeze occurs until the expansion draft is completed.
June 18 at 10am: The NHL will publicly announce which players are/are not exposed to the expansion draft.
June 21 at 10am: Las Vegas submits its expansion draft selections.
June 21 evening at 2017 NHL awards show: Las Vegas’ expansion draft selections and team is announced.
June 22 at 8am: The roster and trade freeze is lifted.
Basics: The whole no-movement clause, waivers and then roster freeze sequence from June 12-16 is basically the window during which teams will deal with players with no-movement clauses who they do not want to protect. Teams first have a window to get players to waive these clauses and be exposed to the expansion draft which is followed immediately by a final waivers window and then roster freeze. Teams can and will use this short window to buy out players who are unwilling to waive their no-movement clauses that they want to buy out. Then things get locked down for a couple days while Las Vegas makes its selections.
Hurricanes’ impacts: The whole no-movement clause, waivers, buy out sequence is not directly relevant to the Hurricanes roster. I am on record as thinking that the Hurricanes will ultimately buy out Eddie Lack, but he does not have a no-movement clause. Ron Francis will first see if he can move him as part of an expansion draft deal or shortly thereafter.
The indirect impacts are more significant. First, the schedule above sets a pre-expansion draft trade hot period leading up to June 17 when rosters freeze. This one of two time frames that I identified as the most likely times for a Ron Francis’ trade. Second, any players bought out make more options for Francis to consider when free agency opens on July 1.
Trade window alert: The couple days leading up to the roster freeze at 3pm on Saturday, June 17 represents the first significant trade window (as detailed in a Daily Cup of Joe article earlier this week) as teams who are destined to lose a good player to the expansion draft consider the alternative of trading him to at least get something in return.
The 2017 NHL Draft
Following fast on the heels of the week leading up the expansion draft, the NHL packs up its tents and quickly moves to the regular draft which starts only a couple days later.
June 23 at 6pm: The first round of the 2017 NHL draft takes place.
June 24 at 9am: Rounds 2-7 of the 2017 NHL Draft follow.
Basics: Obviously the straightforward part of it is the entry draft to add another batch of players to the prospect pool, but the other significance is that the draft floor can also be a busy trading window with all of the general managers in the same place and at least one trade asset expiring (draft picks are converted to specific prospects which are not as marketable since not every team rates prospects the same).
Hurricanes’ impacts: I noted the couple days leading up to the draft as a key trade window for Ron Francis. If he is going to use some of the three extra draft picks that he owns, he needs to do it before 9am Saturday when those picks start to go on the clock. The other impact is the draft itself. It is reasonable to believe that Francis will use some of his extra draft assets in trade, but if not, the front part of Saturday morning will be a whirlwind for the Hurricanes with five picks between #42 and #73.
Trade window alert: The 49 hours from when rosters unfreeze on Thursday, June 22 at 8am and when the second round of the draft starts at 9am on Saturday, June 24 represent one of two most likely deal windows for Francis. If he wants to do a trade using draft picks but after teams get an updated look at their rosters post-expansion draft, that is the time frame.
June 26 at 5pm: Deadline for extending qualifying offers to restricted free agents to retain their rights.
July 1 at 12pm: Official start of free agent signing period. Unrestricted free agents can be signed, and the window also opens for restricted free agents to sign offer sheets. Note that teams are now allowed to talk with free agents prior to July 1 which has had the effect of many more deals being announced right away since they had been in the works for a few days.
July 5 at 5pm: Deadline for players to file for salary arbitration.
Basics: The deadline for making qualifying offers kicks a few more players into the free agent pool, but mostly just marginal players. The big day is July 1 when the free agent frenzy kicks off.
Hurricanes’ impacts: The deadline day for qualifying offers has a couple things to watch. First, will the Hurricanes qualify Andrej Nestrasil who spent the majority of the 2016-17 season in the AHL and then grumbled a bit to a Czech newspaper at the end of it? My guess is that Francis will choose to let him walk. The day will also offer an idea of what Francis plans to do in net at the AHL level. Young prospects Alex Nedeljkovic and Callum Booth are both under contract and set to play at the professional level either in the AHL or ECHL. The question is whether the Hurricanes will re-sign restricted free agent Daniel Altshuller or if the team will instead cut him loose to use that slot for a veteran AHL netminder. We will find out on June 26. The opening of free agency on July 1 also offers another avenue for Francis to improve the team, and it also opens the possibility of using an offer sheet to add a higher-end player. (Per yesterday’s Daily Cup of Joe, I think this is improbable.)
The NHL buyout window
Overlapping a couple of the headline events is the buyout window. Teams can buy out a player by paying him two-thirds of the remaining salary on his contract spread over twice as many years.
June 15 or 16: With the exact date depending on when the Stanley Cup Finals wrap up, the buyout window will open in mid-June.
June 30: Deadline to buy out players (with a possible extension for teams that have players go to arbitration).
Hurricanes’ impacts: If I am correct that Eddie Lack is now the #3 goalie and that Francis will only want to enter training camp with two, the June 30 buyout deadline is something to watch for Lack. I do not see Francis buying out Lack before the conclusion of the NHL draft simply because there is some chance of including him in a trade and not having to bite the bullet and pay him while letting him go. Once the dust settles on the draft weekend, if the Hurricanes still have three goalies, Francis is on the clock for deciding if he wants to use the buyout option by June 30 to address the issue.
What say you Canes fans?
How exciting is the run of expansion draft to regular draft to free agency going to be?
Do we have an NHL legalese expert who can check my math/dates and make sure I have it all right?