New York Rangers, Mats Zuccarello
Photo by Bergen Record

The NHL has finally approved another city for a professional hockey team. we’ll discuss how the move affects the New York Rangers.

After months of talks and NHL commissioner Gary Bettman avoiding the subject, it is finally happening.

The NHL is expanding.

The Las Vegas team will be the league’s 31st team, and their inaugural season will kick off during the 2017-2018 season.

Las Vegas is known more for its high stakes casinos rather than professional sports, however, the league is taking a gamble of their own by expanding the game of hockey across the United States,

This will be the league’s first expansion draft in 16 years and it will be interesting to see how the expansion draft pans out, especially for the New York Rangers.

There are a variety of draft rules that each club has to follow (link below) and it will be interesting to see how the Blueshirts navigate these rules.

There are a few players who will be protected, Henrik Lundqvist and Ryan McDonagh for example.

Defenseman Marc StaalDan Girardi, and Henrik Lundqvist all have no-movement clauses in their contract, which will protect them during the expansion draft.

Those three players would count as two of three defenseman and goalie, or two of eight skaters and a goalie that would be protected.

The Rangers could look like a very different team by the time the expansion draft roles around.

Blueshirts’ GM Jeff Gorton has already started to reshape the team after dumping Keith Yandle to the Florida Panthers for draft picks.

It’s possible that Girardi and Staal could be next if Gorton can convince these two aging players to waive their respective no movement clauses.

If those clauses were to be being waived, the Rangers cap situation (and future outlook) would improve dramatically.

It’s safe to say that the next few weeks will be a critical time for Gorton and his club’s future.

As far as the draft goes, it will be interesting to see how the draft affects some of the Rangers’ core players such as Mats Zuccarello, Derick Brassard, Chris Kreider, J.T. Miller, and Kevin Hayes.

The defenseman are not safe either, as Dylan McIlrath, Brady Skjei, and perhaps even Kevin Klein could find themselves in Vegas.

Also, it is important to note that first and second-year players will be exempt from the draft, so Rangers fans can breathe a sigh of relief in knowing that their precious Pavel Buchnevich will not be leaving New York for at least three years.

However, third year players like Oscar Lindberg could be on the Vegas chopping block.

In the end, the expansion process will be great for the league as a whole. If Gorton plays his cards right (pun intended) this offseason and during the expansion draft then the Rangers could possibly walk away from a bleak cap situation unscathed.

Having said that, we have a whole season of hockey to enjoy before we have to worry about the draft. After all, preseason begins on Tuesday, Sep. 27.

NEXT: Could The Knicks Acquire Another Bulls Player?

I love watching sports, specifically teams in New York. I'll root for all New York teams, but the New York Rangers and hockey are my number one. I am an avid hockey fan and enjoy expressing my opinion on the Blueshirts, when they are playing good and bad.