The National Hockey League and the Players’ Association have agreed upon the rules of engagement for an expansion draft.

While the NHL’s executive committee has yet to recommend expansion, this is a major hurdle cleared. The NHLPA could have protracted the process, but negotiations between the league and the union last week proved fruitful and a deal was reached. An NHL source confirmed the agreement on Friday.

The NHL has hundreds of steps to go through before potential expansion becomes a reality, but getting an agreement with the NHLPA was viewed as near the top of the list. The executive committee would not have recommended expansion to the board of governors for the purpose of a vote without an agreement in place with the NHLPA, and, in particular, a resolution on how existing no-trade and no-move clauses would be handled in the expansion draft process.

Sources indicate that players with no-move clauses will have to be protected by teams. The CBA states that a no-move clause “may prevent the involuntary relocation of a player, whether by trade, loan or waiver claim.”

According to, 70 NHL players have no-movement clauses that would be active prior to July 1, 2017. If there was an expansion draft, it would be held prior to the entry draft in the spring of 2017.

Players with no-trade clauses, which allow a player to decline a trade to either all teams in the league or a modified number spelled out in his contract, are not exempt and can be left exposed.

Time is getting tight for the NHL if it is going to expand for the 2017-18 season. If that is the plan, the league has stated it would have to inform general managers prior to this year’s entry draft in late June. A source said Friday that if expansion is going to move forward, mid-May is the timetable for an announcement.

The 10-member executive committee, should it decide to take an expansion package to the rest of the league’s owners, will need to have a full and complete document for consideration. The rules of the expansion draft are vital to the individual clubs as it will affect their on-ice product.

The NHL, if it expands, will charge $500 million for a new franchise. The league has determined it wants any expansion franchise to ice a competitive team. The framework it presented to the GMs would see each team lose one player if the league expands by one team and two if two franchises are added.

Existing teams would be allowed to protect seven forwards, three defencemen and one goaltender or eight skaters and a goaltender.