New York Islanders Expansion Draft Primer
Feb 25, 2017; Columbus, OH, USA; New York Islanders center Brock Nelson (29) against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The Blue Jackets won 7-0. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s what you need to know about the New York Islanders’ involvement in the upcoming NHL Expansion Draft.

It’s going to be a busy summer — busier than normal, in fact.

While the NHL calendar usually features the lottery draft and beginning of free agency, this year there’s something else: the expansion draft.

Here’s what you need to know:

What’s the Expansion Draft?

The NHL recently expanded to 31 teams, with the Vegas Golden Knights slated to begin their inaugural 2017-18 season in the Pacific Division. As such, they need players, and the expansion draft will help them out with that.

On June 21, 2017, mere hours before the league’s annual Awards Ceremony, Vegas will have the opportunity to select one “unprotected” player from each of the league’s current 30 teams.

These teams can protect either seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie or eight skaters and one goalie ahead of the draft. They must submit this protected players list by June 17, 2017.

All players who have spent at least two years in the professional (AHL or NHL) ranks and haven’t been protected by their current teams are eligible to be selected by the Golden Knights.

Vegas will then select one unprotected player from each team. This could include players who are both under contract for the 2017-18 season and are restricted free agents this offseason (unrestricted free agents will not need to be protected, as they won’t be picked).

How will this impact the Islanders?

Right off the bat, the Islanders need to protect three players who have no-movement clauses in their contracts: John Tavares, Johnny Boychuk and Andrew Ladd.

As we’ve discussed ad nauseam, the Islanders have a lot of defensive depth and not a lot of forward depth. As such, there’s an awfully good chance that they’ll choose to protect eight skaters and a goalie rather than seven forwards, three defensemen and a goalie.

Here’s what this would probably look like (NMC in italics):

Skaters (8): John Tavares, Andrew Ladd, Johnny Boychuk, Nick Leddy, Anders Lee, Ryan Pulock, Travis Hamonic, and one (1) of Brock Nelson, Calvin de Haan and Ryan Strome
Goalie (1): Thomas Greiss 

On a purely speculative note, there’s a very good chance that either Nelson, de Haan, Strome or goalie Jaroslav Hálak would be picked. They’re all very talented players, although Hálak is on the older side and carries a large contract.

So … in conclusion

This is the watered-down version of the expansion draft, but it’s actually not that complicated.

We’ll find out the results sometime during the Awards Ceremony on June 21, and then we’ll be well on our way to bigger and better places, like the lottery draft, where the Isles could either snag a future stud or make a big-time trade.

In the meantime, here’s an expansion draft tool to play around with. Que te diviertas!

Justin Weiss is a staff editor at Elite Sports New York, where he covers the New York Islanders and Brooklyn Cyclones. In 2016, he received a Quill Award for Freelance Journalism. He has written for the Long Island Herald, FanSided and YardBarker.