Photo Credit: Image: Hobey Baker

Why Adam Gaudette and Jonathan Dahlen will be eligible for the Seattle 2020 Expansion Draft

Yesterday, the Canucks locked up Adam Gaudette to a three-year entry-level contract and fans rejoiced as they were excited to see what the centre can do.

Canucks sign Adam Gaudette to 3 year entry-level contract

But anyone who has been following me for a while knows that I chase after the details in everything. Finding out the inner working of contracts and their long-term ramifications of every move is something that motivates me.

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In the signing post, I mentioned that Gaudette would require protection in the hypothetical Seattle expansion draft in June 2020. Rightfully; I was then questioned about this statement as I was quite confident in what I was saying and there was opposing information. Those questions also turned to another top prospect, Jonathan Dahlen, and what could happen to him.

Given that level of interested, I thought it worthwhile to explain how I reached these conclusions, with examples, and what the outlook is for Dahlen. Obviously, there could be changes to the rules in the coming years, but Bill Daly has instructed NHL GM’s that the rules would be the same:

Given that information is coming directly from the NHL offices, it’s okay to be confident in the knowledge below, as long as there aren’t any adjustments. The most important rule from the NHL Vegas Expansion rules is below:

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It was later confirmed that meant that the players had to have provided service to the club for the clock to tick on those two years. An example of a player accruing professional years before his deal and being exempt is Artemi Panarin. The Russian winger played in the KHL for years, then came over to the NHL and played two seasons with the Blackhawks prior to the expansion draft and thus was exempt from the expansion draft.

Adam Gaudette

In Gaudette’s case, with him burning a year of his entry-level contract this season, I was aware that he would need to be protected but hadn’t quite figured out why. The Article 10.2a within the NHL CBA was cited as him needing to appear ten professional games for him to accrue that first year. That article is below:

For the purposes of this Section 10.2(a), a Player aged 18 or 19 earns a year of professional experience by playing ten (10) or more NHL Games in a given NHL Season, and a Player aged 20 or older (or who turns 20 between September 16 and December 31 of the year in which he signs his first SPC) earns a year of professional experience by playing ten (10) or more Professional Games under an SPC in a given League Year.

Just to ensure that I am doing due diligence, Professional Games is defined in the CBA as follows:

NCAA games do not count towards this total, and with only six games left on the Canucks schedule, that would contradict what I already knew. That means I had to find another source where professional games were used as reference point for a year or playing service accrued. That led me to Article 13.4, which covers waivers, and this language:

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Gaudette is already 21-years-old, so that language in the image applies to him. If he appears in one game, then he earns a year played towards his waiver exemption.

Armed with that information, I thought there had to be an example of a player who had a similar path in 2014-15 — appearing in less than ten games but still being required to be protected in the Vegas expansion draft.

Enter Kyle Baun.

Image: hockeydb

Baun was signed as an NCAA free agent by the Blackhawks and appeared in three NHL games to close out the 2014-15 season. The Toronto, ON native, was available to the Golden Knights this past June in the Expansion Draft:

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This would lead me to the conclusion that the wording of article 13.4, or something similar to it, and not Article 10.2 was used for the expansion draft. Thus given that the same rules are expected to be used in the hypothetical Seattle expansion draft, then Gaudette will require protection or be available to Seattle.

Jonathan Dahlen

Another player that Canucks fans have a keen eye on is Swedish forward Jonathan Dahlen. He was brought up as another player that had an unclear picture when it came to the expansion draft. The league deems Dahlen a 20-year-old based on Article 13.4 above, but here is the essential part of that image:

For purposes of this Article, “age 18” means a Player reaching his eighteenth birthday between January 1 next preceding the Entry Draft and September 15 next following the Entry Draft, both dates included; “age 19” means a Player reaching his nineteenth birthday in the calendar year of the Entry Draft; “age 20” means a Player reaching his twentieth birthday in the calendar year of the Entry Draft; and “age 21” means a Player reaching his twenty-first birthday in the calendar year of the Entry Draft.

Dahlen turned 20 on December 20th, 2017, which means that he is deemed ‘age 20’ according to this article within the CBA.

The Canucks loaned Dahlen to the Allsvenskan this season before appearing in any North American professional games, but since he is 20-years-old, the professional games in Europe count:

For Players age 20 or older, Professional Games include NHL Games, all minor league regular season and playoff games and any other professional games, including but not limited to, play in European leagues when Player is on Loan to such club, and while Player is party to an SPC.

Combining all that information – Dahlen’s age, that he is currently in the first year of his entry-level contract, and on loan to Timra – Dahlen is accruing that first year of professional service when using Article 13.4 as the basis. This means that Dahlen would be concluding his third year of professional hockey when the Seattle Expansion Draft occurs in June 2020. To make sure I was on the right path, I wanted to find an example of a player on a similar track as Dahlen. That led me to Anaheim Ducks forward Nick Sorensen.

Sorenson signed his entry-level deal at ‘age 20’ based on Article 13.4, and then was loaned to the SHL for the duration of the 2014-15 season:

Image: Hockeydb

He was available for Vegas to select in the 2017 expansion draft.

Given the understanding of the language that has been set previously in here and the example of Sorensen, we can conclude that Dahlen will require protection in the hypothetical 2020 Seattle expansion even if he doesn’t appear in any game in North America this season. Another player that came close, Washington Capitals defenceman Christian Djoos, was also available for selection in the Vegas expansion draft after being loaned to the SHL for the 2014-15 season. Djoos did appear in one game for the Hershey Bears (AHL) to close out that season though.


Obviously, I do not have the exact wording from the 2017 NHL expansion draft as it’s not publicly available information. But I can confidently conclude that based on what I have outlined above, Gaudette and Dahlen will be available for selection (and require protection) for the 2020 Seattle expansion draft.

Another player that had some consideration is defenceman Olli Juolevi (DOB: May 5, 1998), but assuming that the Article 13.4 language was used (or something very close to it), he will be exempt from the expansion draft as there is a different language for 18 and 19-year-olds, which is as follows:

For purposes of Regular Waivers, the five (5) year exemption for an 18 year old skater and the four (4) year exemption for a 19 year old skater shall both be reduced to three (3) years commencing the first season that the 18 or 19 year old skater plays in eleven (11) NHL Games or more. The next two (2) seasons, regardless of whether the skater plays any NHL Games in either season, shall count as the second and third years toward satisfying the exemption.

Since Juolevi is still currently playing in the Liiga playoffs, it’s fair to assume he won’t play those 11 NHL games this year and thus earns his first year of ‘professional hockey’ in the 2018-19 campaign despite playing being on loan and having played professional hockey this year. These little wrinkles in language within the CBA have ramifications on how things play out for years to come. Despite being drafted in the same year and both being loaned to European teams, since Dahlen is six months older and born in 1997 rather than 1998, there is a difference in how the rules can affect Juolevi and Dahlen differently. It’s a prime example of how just a slight age difference can change the path for players.

Having to protect Gaudette and Dahlen in 2020 isn’t a massive problem for the Canucks. They were allowed to protect seven forwards last time and by 2020, Loui Eriksson will only have a no-trade clause and not require protection. Either Gaudette and Dahlen have played well enough and deserve to be protected or can be left exposed with little consequence.

Time will tell on the matter and should not take away from the excitement about the potential of these two players, but it’s still nice to have a clearer picture on what could happen for that expansion draft.

  • Sandpaper

    Excellent information as usual Ryan.
    I dont believe it is a concern either as we have very little quality to protect that we need to be worried about losing.

    • argoleas

      Yeah, at this point actually worrying about who will be protected in 2 years is premature. IMO, the only surefire players as of right now are Horvat, Boeser, and Demko. Yes, we seem to have forgotten about Demko, so that means Markstrom or his successor will be exposed. What if Markstrom actually becomes good? HAHAHA!

      Now, if Edler and Tanev are still here, they will likely be protected. I just doubt both will still be here. One? maybe. Both? Unlikely.

      Stecher, Virtanen, Dahlen, and Gaudette: If their trajectory is positive, they will be protected.

      That’s pretty much all I can, or care to, project today.

  • argoleas

    By popular demand, Ryan delivers. Thanks for the detailed explanation.

    My understanding of what you wrote above is that pro experience in AHL absolutely counts towards waiver eligibility, so anyone who is in their 3+ year, even if it is all in AHL, will be eligible Hence for example, someone like Brisebois, and Chatfield, who would be finishing their 3rd pro year at the end of the 2019-2020 season would be eligible.

    So, how would that affect someone like Tryamkin, assuming he is still in the KHL when the expansion draft takes place? He has 2 years of NHL experience, but obviously, he has now more in KHL after his NHL stint. Does that mean he would also be expansion-eligible (in terms of his rights)?

  • Chris the Curmudgeon

    Even if all the prospects develop as we hope they do, and all the existing guys currently on the team who have enough upside to care about are still with us (ie: most optimistic development scenario), we’d be likely looking at protecting Boeser, Horvat, Goldy, Dahlen, Gaudette, Baertschi and Virtanen along with Stecher, Hutton, Tanev and Demko. Edler will probably be gone by then (or else 34 years old, not exactly expansion draft material), Gaunce would be tough to lose but not franchise altering, Pouliot and Granlund are a stretch to be protection worthy anyways, ditto Leipsic, Motte, Sautner and Boucher if any are still around (I doubt it), and Seattle would be doing us a big favor by taking any of Sutter, Eriksson and Gudbranson. Let’s not fool ourselves that we’re going to be one of those teams that needs to squirm and worm to keep our core intact. Sure, I hope we’ve improved considerably by then, but we’re not going to be so deep that we’ll lose someone we are going to miss.

    • TheRealPB

      What will be interesting to see is how the league as a whole adjusts to the effects of the Las Vegas draft. In addition to the NHL gifting a far stronger starting lineup to the Golden Knights than any other expansion team (some would argue in any sport) in history, a bunch of teams also made some weird panic moves or just flat out overpaid to get teams not to take someone. And in many cases it was a bad bet. The Panthers gave Marchessault (72 points) to LV so that they’d take Reilly Smith (60 points) for a fourth round pick — literally 132 points for a 4th rounder. The Bluejackets gave them a 1st and 2019 second just so they’d take Clarkson’s contract. Then they turned that into Nick Suzuki with the #13 pick after they flipped picks with the Jets by promising to take Chris Thorburn. They got a 2nd and a 4th plus Gusev from Tampa Bay to take on Jason Garrison. The Islanders gave them a 1st, a 2019 2nd, Bischoff and Grabovski so that they’d take Berube. The Ducks gave them Theodore for taking Stoner. The Wild gave them Tuch for taking Haula (and a 3rd). The Pens gave them a 2020 3rd for taking Fleury. I cannot see the league getting this duped again and sending out so many (more) top prospects and picks to a fledgling team.

      Luckily we were in the position of mostly having to choose between losing Sbisa and Gaunce. Giving up a fourth liner or a third pairing defenseman isn’t exactly going to break your rebuild. It is very hard to see us having the assets to worry about losing a couple of years down the line either.

    • TD

      Unless Goldobin sees the light quickly, I would keep Leipsic and let Goldy go. With the prospects we have, I don’t see Goldy as a top 6 forward without dramatic improvement. So far Leipsic has been better and he has the skill set to play lower in the lineup as an energy and tenacious player that Goldy lacks. At that point, we are not talking about anything franchise altering. By that time, Granlund, Goldobin, Baertschi and others may have been traded and other players brought in.

      • argoleas

        Assuming both Goldy and Leipsic are on this team next season, then their fate should be decided no later than summer of 2019. By then we should have a very clear view of where Goldy is headed.

      • Chris the Curmudgeon

        Leipsic showed a few flashes over his first couple of games, and can play lower in the lineup, sure, but Goldobin is plainly the higher ceiling player as I see it. Plus, as much as we’ve had longer to see Goldy, he’s a year and a half younger than Brendan. He might be less likely to achieve the potential he has, but this was to be an optimistic scenario. Also, to his credit, I think Goldobin has looked really solid over the last little while, and has appeared much more committed defensively, and if those strides represent permanent progress and not just a temporary streak, and he continues the way he’s been going, then he could easily slot in above Leipsic as early as next year.

        Also, as you said, Baertschi may be traded before 2020 too in which case you can protect both Goldy and Leipsic plus the other players I want to keep.

        Also, as you said, Leipsic could easily settle into a 3rd/4th line role and stay there, whereas Goldy is basically a top 6 forward or bust: if he hasn’t

    • argoleas

      IMO this is the best way of looking at it. Effectively, Canucks are a young team, and our best assets are the 2017 draft, likely the 2018 draft, and hopefully the 2019 draft. And from 2016 draft, Joulevi and other applicable prospects. Doubt there will be enough core pieces already in the club or in Utica to fret over.

      But if there is, there’s always a side-deal to explore with Seattle if absolutely necessary. Which I doubt there will be.

  • Sounds like we lose a defensemen. Using the 7-3-1 set-up, we can protect Sutter, Eriksson, Dahlen, Gaudette, Horvat, Boeser, Virtanen and Demko. But we’d need to decide which 3 to protect out of Tanev, Edler, Stecher, Pouliot, Hutton and Gudbranson (presuming they are all resigned by that point). It’d protect Tanev, Stecher and Hutton out of that group.

  • Sandpaper

    One other question for you Ryan, if Lind ends up signing an ATO after his team gets eliminated, will he need protection.
    He has already signed his ELC, but would not be under that contract for the games in Utica?
    Thanks in advance.

    • Ryan Biech

      No – he wouldn’t need protection

      Ben Hutton signed an ATO, appeared in four games, and then played two seasons before Vegas draft and exempt (just as example)

    • Dan the Fan

      Good question. He’s 19 but turns 20 this years, so he’s “age 20”, so it should be any pro game under 13.4. But if the reports on Mittelstadt are right, then there’s some other wrinkle out there. I wish the NHL would release the exact rules.

  • Nuck16

    I’ll be happy so long as management does not trade any prospects or draft picks (that do not need to be protected) for any player that will need to be protected, between now and then…like they did when they traded McCann, 2nd rounder (higher pick than Dahlen) for Gudbransan…which cost us Sbiza as well as a result.
    The exception to this might be a case where we have deemed that we only have say 6 forwards that we really want to protect and therefore are able to trade a draft pick for an elite player (of the ilk of James Neil) for pennies on the dollar, if some team has a surplus of talent they can’t protect.

    • Nuck16

      If we play things right over the next 2 years, the year following the expansion draft should be the year we try to complete for a cup again…and before you start laughing, I did say ‘try’.

  • Dan the Fan

    Thanks for taking the time to look into this. I was under the impression that pro years for expansion purposes was the same as pro years towards free agency.

    But this does create another question… What about Casey Mittelstadt? He turns 20 this year, making him “age 20” and in the same category as Gaudette under 13.4 (“age 20 or older”.) So he should also be a 3rd year pro in the summer of 2020, but it’s being widely reported that he won’t be eligible for expansion selection.

      • TD

        If I read it all correctly, he turns 20 this year and is therefore considered to be 20 for these purposes. It is whatever his age is at the end of the calendar year. At least that’s how I read it. It seems really weird to have a Sept. 15 birthday cut off for the draft, but a Dec. 31 cut off for all other purposes.

  • Rodeobill

    Hopefully the TDL that year will be full of good opportunities with teams looking to recoup something instead of nothing. That is, if we spend the next few years in hard rebuild and are ready to add extra pieces to be a contender by then (optimistic scenario, right?)