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Get to Know the 2016 Expansion Draft

Here are some of the most important rules to know about the first of many, many drafts for the Loons.

MLS: Columbus Crew SC at Toronto FC Kevin Sousa-USA TODAY Sports

With the expansion draft right around the corner, the need for a quick refresher on the new rules the MLS has started. This year’s version of the draft is a little different than the 2014 version, and both team’s fans should be reminded of the basic rules.

Starting off, the basic rule is that Atlanta and Minnesota will each get five selections this season, which is down from ten picks when Orlando City SC and New York City FC joined the league in 2014. This means that each existing team only has to worry about losing one player. (Only a handful of team lost two players in the 2014 draft, though.)

Each existing team may submit a list of 11 protected players. These players cannot be selected by Atlanta or Minnesota and can be from the Senior, Supplemental, or reserve rosters. These are not the only players that are protected, as there are rules about who would be considered to be automatically protected and does not count against the 11. If a player’s contract is up in 2016, that player is still considered to be a part of the Senior roster.

The players that do not count against the 11 protected players but are protected regardless are either Homegrown players that are on the Reserve or Supplemental squads or they are Generation Adidas players that have not graduated out yet. For those Loons fans interested, Damion Lowe of the Sounders was a Generation Adidas player but has graduated out. Seattle would need to use a protected slot on him.

Designated players are not automatically protected. Teams do have to use a slot on them if they want to be sure that they cannot be picked up. The salaries that DPs come with is a possible deterrence for Atlanta or Minnesota, but the two Uniteds can renegotiate salaries up or down. That could be something to watch as protected lists start becoming available.

The draft process as a whole is pretty straightforward. There is a total of five rounds. Each team has three minutes to make their selection. Vikings fans, of course, always think back to the 2003 NFL draft in missing their pick, which is a possibility in this draft, but with no trades allowed, there should not be an instance of the Loons missing a pick.

There you have it. That is a basic rundown of the rules. There are a couple more finite wrinkles, but for the fan’s perspective, these struck me as the most important rules to keep in mind.