Again, this is all "theoretically" based on an (unlikely to actually happen) June 2015 expansion draft based on the rules for the last expansion drafts.
It's also unlikely that those rules would be the formula for a "Cap Era" expansion draft. Two things didn't exist during the last expansions: The salary cap and the notion of "higher league parity".
I wouldn't be surprised if the league adds new provisions for a salary cap expansion.
The first thing to consider is that the expansion team would need to reach the minimum salary floor. The league probably knows that the expansion team won't have a snowballs chance in hell to compete in the now thin UFA market and would struggle to reach the cap floor without having provisions in the expansion draft. They would also want the new team to atleast be able to compete on level with basement level teams. Something they can't do with one draft worth of prospects and the pack of career AHL players or mediocre veterans that moved in the '98-2000 expansion drafts.
My guess is that the league will also put in rules stating that teams have to expose a certain number of players that have a cap hit over a certain level and/or a certain number of years remaining on their contract. Something like:
Each team must leave unprotected atleast:
-Four players (1G, 1D, 2F)
-One of which is under contract for atleast the next season with a cap hit at or over $3.5m
-One of which is under contract for alteast the next season with a cap hit from $2m-$3.5m
-Two of which are under contract for atleast the next season with a cap hit from $700k($150k over league minimum)-$2m
Then the league would mandate that the expansion team take a certain number of players that meet each criteria, like: Atleast 3 of the $3.5M+ players exposed and 5 from the $2m-$3.5m category, and atleast 7 from the $700k+ category.
Would be a good opportunity for some teams to offload bad contracts (ala Lecavalier), but also guarantees the expansion team atleast a small amount of NHL talent for their inaugural season, and a jump start at meeting the salary floor for their first season (most likely in the same fashion Edmonton did this past season, by overpaying mediocre UFA's like Nikitin and Pouliot!).
I agree that they may attach some conditions for the players being exposed, but I don't think there would be any shortage of those "bad contracts" available (Semin, Mike Richards, Brian Campbell and Matt Carle come to mind). While I think teams should have a minimum amount of salary exposed, if the criteria is too specific, it's going to handcuff a good number of teams. For example, outside of Michal Neuvirth, Buffalo doesn't have another player in the 2.0-3.5 range.
I think the onus should really be on the expansion teams. They can overpay UFA's, make deals, etc., but I agree there should be a minimum amount of cap dollars made available - maybe not just so specific on the number of players and their ranges. It's another obstacle (the cap), but I think teams would be relieved to unload some of their contracts for sure.
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