The interweb is abuzz with rumors that the NHL is not only going to expand, to Las Vegas and/or Seattle, but expand big time, by adding four new teams in time for its 100th anniversary celebration in 2017.
An article in the Vancouver Province asserts that expansion to Las Vegas is all but a done deal, with the league just needing to decide on which ownership group is going to land the team.
Hot on the heels of that little nugget is a tweet from Howard Bloom, stating that the league will grow to a bountiful 34-team circuit by 2017 with the addition of Las Vegas, Seattle, Quebec City, and a second franchise in Toronto. According to Bloom the NHL will pocket $1.4 billion in expansion fees. Sports Illustrated thought enough of this tweet to post an article about it.
NHL expansion – four teams added by 2017, Quebec City, Toronto, Seattle, and Las Vegas $1.4b in expansion fees— Howard Bloom (@SportsBizNews) August 27, 2014
While I do think expansion is indeed coming, it's a little difficult to believe the NHL can add that many teams in so short a time span. Yes, Quebec City's new arena will be done soon, and ground has been broken in Las Vegas, but unless some serious behind-the-scenes dealings are going on in Seattle, the new building there is still dependent on the NBA agreeing to come to town first. And the last time I checked in, the proposed arena in Markham was DOA. In addition, adding these four cities, at first glance, doesn't solve the geographic imbalance between the two conferences, unless perhaps, the new Toronto area club is forced to play in the Western Conference, an idea which has been discussed before as way to help appease the Maple Leafs.
If this does come to pass (which the NHL is currently denying), hopefully it quells the constant relocation talk regarding the Panthers, as the most attractive destinations for them (as of right now) would be filled with new expansion teams, leaving less desirable markets like Portland and Kansas City waiting in the wings.