NHL Expansion Plans: Seattle, Las Vegas, Quebec City

Las Vegas NHL Expansion Site
The NHL says it has no plans for immediate expansion but is receiving expressions of interest from several cities. Expansion from 30 to 32 teams is beneficial to the NHL. Adding two more teams to the Western Conference makes 16, the same number of teams currently in the East. This makes 4 divisions of 8 teams and solves the disparity in playoff odds. Then, there is the fact that the league owners get $300 million per expansion franchise. If the league expands by 2 teams, the owners split $600 million.

The primary expansion target is Seattle in the Pacific Northwest US. The city has a new arena to help attract a NHL and NBA team. For the second expansion target, it is a toss-up between Las Vegas and Quebec City. Las Vegas, while not as widely known for NHL action in sportsbooks leaving enthusiasts to take to online resources for NHL betting odds, is situated in a prime location to add another team to the Western Conference. Quebec City in Eastern Canada is not ideally situated but is likely to have a strong following of hockey fans from day one. Bettman said he wants to make right the wrong that happened to Quebec City when the Nordiques relocated to Colorado in 1995.

Commissioner Gary Bettman says there are three must-haves for successful expansion: "You want to understand the market and can it support NHL hockey? Would it be a good addition to the league? Two, you've got to have an arena and three, and perhaps most important, it comes down to ownership."

With financially struggling teams such as the Phoenix Coyotes, Columbus Blue Jackets, New York Islanders, Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers, it is likely that either Quebec City or Las Vegas ends up getting its franchise through relocation instead of expansion.

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