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NHL Expansion Draft Rules Announced: Girardi Is Auto Protected

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New York Rangers v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game One Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

Here is the official release from NHL.com regarding the much-anticipated 2017 expansion draft rules. Dan Girardi will indeed join Marc Staal and Henrik Lundqvist as players "automatically protected", should they remain on the roster until next June. This means Kevin Klein, Dylan McIlrath and whatever veteran defensemen New York signs or acquires in the interim are slated for exposure.

That is, unless a player voluntarily waives his No-Movement Clause at the time of expansion per the team's request, which isn't a likelihood to be counted upon.

Brad Skjei, who will be finishing his sophomore year as a proverbial "pro", is thankfully exempt.

There is also the issue of New York needing to leave two forwards exposed whom will be contracted through the 2017-18 season. As of this moment only Derick Brassard, Rick Nash, Derek Stepan, and Mats Zuccarello fit that mold, and assuredly they will be protected if still on the roster. Pavel Buchnevich also meets the criteria, but is exempt from expansion due his less-than-three-pro-seasons stature.

Clearly with the writing now on the wall, there is no excuse for Jeff Gorton and the Rangers' front office to adjust their thinking and actions to the tune of next June's expansive reality.

The NHL buyout window remains open until the end of June, with a secondary buyout window potentially opening in August should at least two of New York's six restricted free agents file for salary arbitration in the first week of July (which is a very good bet).

If it wasn't taken seriously before, it should at least be given due reconsideration now.

The following rules were approved for the 2017 Expansion Draft:

Protected Lists

* Clubs will have two options for players they wish to protect in the Expansion Draft:

a) Seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender

b) Eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender

* All players who have currently effective and continuing "No Movement" clauses at the time of the Expansion Draft (and who to decline to waive such clauses) must be protected (and will be counted toward their club's applicable protection limits).

* All first- and second-year professionals, as well as all unsigned draft choices, will be exempt from selection (and will not be counted toward their club's applicable protection limits).

Player Exposure Requirements

* All Clubs must meet the following minimum requirements regarding players exposed for selection in the Expansion Draft:

i) One defenseman who is a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.

ii) Two forwards who are a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.