Professional seasons are expected to only count while a player is under an NHL SPC. A player like Artemi Panarin for instance, who played several “professional seasons” in the KHL prior to signing with the Chicago Blackhawks for the 2015-16 season, is expected to still be exempt from the Expansion Draft. This is because his seasons in the KHL were played before he signed an NHL SPC, so his first “professional season” for purposes of expansion is considered the 2015-16 season.
Assuming the methodology used for calculating professional experience as it relates to free agency (CBA Section 10.2) applies for expansion as well:
Furthermore, players who play professional games in the AHL or other professional leagues in a year where their contract slides are not expected to have those years count as “professional seasons” for purposes of expansion. This is because the player is 18/19 in the years that his contract slides, so only 10 or more NHL games would be considered a professional season.
Please visit the Protected Players tab for a full list of players who are likely to be exempt under these guidelines.
Note that while the 18/19 age threshold refers to NHL games, the 20+ age threshold refers to Professional Games. “Professional Games” includes the following: any NHL Games played, all minor league regular season and playoff games and any other professional games played, including but not limited to, games played in any European league or any other league outside North America, by a Player pursuant to his SPC.