It appears hockey may be coming to Las Vegas.
The Associated Press reports that the NHL has settled on Las Vegas as the location for an expansion team, under the stipulation the organizers can pay the $500 million expansion fee. The AP reports the decision was confirmed as a “done deal.” Quebec City was also considered for expansion.
The news is good news for the league for a variety of reasons. The expansion deal nullifies the possible threat of teams moving to facilitate a Vegas club. The Carolina Hurricanes were rumored to be on the hot seat for possible relocation. Adding a team in Las Vegas creates more NHL roster openings, more revenue for the league and the opportunity to grow the game more in the United States. The NHL last expanded in 2000.
However, don’t expect to see a Las Vegas next season. The earliest the team can participate in the league is 2017-18. The potential club already has a place to play, the newly built T-Mobile Arena. The AP also reports the Vegas ownership group has secured more than 13,200 season-ticket deposits.
So who’s going to play on the Las Vegas squad? Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports an expansion draft would be held, and all teams would have to leave unprotected a minimum of two forwards and one defenseman who have played at least 40 games the previous season, or 70 over the last two. The player would also have to be under contract.
Teams would get to protect seven forwards, three defenseman, and one goalie. They can ask players with no-movement clauses to be included in the draft. A draft wouldn’t happen until after next season at the latest, but teams should already be cautious of roster decisions going forward.
There’s still plenty of things to be decided and sorted out, but hockey in Vegas is likely coming to the NHL. It’s good news for both the city and the league.