The Stanley Cup Playoffs are well underway and while the excitement of the 4 remaining teams is in the air, NHL fans are already focused on what next season of hockey will have in store. The NHL announced its expansion, granting Las Vegas, Nevada to be the home of the newly expanded team. In the 2017-2018 NHL season, the expansion will settle with a total of 31 teams.
Over whispers and rumors, many thought the Carolina Hurricanes were in jeopardy of relocation, which would have fulfilled the Las Vegas team. As those rumors shut down and the Carolina Hurricanes were declared to be safe, the NHL now looks forward to the $500 million expansion fee.
While that may seem like a horrendous sum of money, one perspective of this expansion is this: the NHL is expecting a money pool. When you think about Las Vegas, you don’t think about sports. It’s lights, casinos, and what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas. Hockey fans do not expect Nevada to suddenly become die-hard fans of this new team. However, millions of Las Vegas tourists can be expected to attend games for the experience, not the pure love of the game.
The T-Mobile arena, a brand new arena located on the Las Vegas strip, will be home to the new team. In a recent reveal, the new team name is officially “The Vegas Golden Knights”. The team name is very similar to what owner of the team, Bill Foley, originally wanted to name the team, the Black Knights. The logo is a trendy shield featuring a large “V” inside of a knight’s helmet. Will there be enough fans to wear this logo loud and proud? Most hockey fans are skeptical, as it’s expected that tourists will be the majority of crowd attenders at the home games.
How will the draft work? The rules for the draft are pretty clear. All 30 teams will choose a select number of players to become “vulnerable”, not including players that are exempt from the draft. First and second year players, as well as “no movement” clauses can keep players safe from relocating to the Golden Knights.
The draft is scheduled to take place on June 21st, after the Stanley Cup. Among the exposed players, the Golden Knights will get to choose one play from each of the 30 presently existing teams.
The expansion draft is an exciting future for NHL, though many are skeptical. For now, pucks and sticks are directed on the ice towards the remaining four teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs: Ducks, Predators, Senators and the Penguins. Could the Pittsburgh, Penguins win again just as they did in 2016? NHL fans have a lot to look forward to within the next month.