The murmurs about a National Hockey League team coming to Las Vegas has been circulating around the league for a few years now. With the NHL officially announcing the league expansion on Wednesday afternoon, the rumors can finally be put to rest about the reality of the seemingly far-fetched idea.
Yes, it may seem a little crazy, but the National Hockey League is expanding to Las Vegas in the 2017-2018 season.
“In the fall of 2017, when we celebrate the 100th birthday of the NHL, we will do so as a League of 31 teams,” said NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman in his announcement.“We are pleased to welcome Bill Foley and the city of Las Vegas to the League and are truly excited that an NHL franchise will be the first major professional sports team in this vibrant, growing, global destination city.”
Las Vegas has never been home to a major league professional sports team, but the NHL has decided to take a gamble and expand to Sin City.
The now owner, Bill Foley, set out a year ago to bring the NHL to Vegas and after an extensive process, the Board of Governors has unanimously decided to grant him an expansion franchise. His efforts to bring the NHL to Vegas were not minimal, though. Between a season ticket drive that got over 14,000 to become ticket holders and his engagement with the League’s commissioner, Foley was seen as a great fit to become a team owner.
“On behalf of the Las Vegas Founding 75, our 14,000 season-ticket holders and the entire Las Vegas community, I would like to thank Commissioner Bettman, the NHL staff and the team owners for their support during this process and the confidence they have placed in Las Vegas by awarding this franchise,” said team owner Bill Foley. “I also would like to thank everyone who supported us through this incredible journey. As I’ve said many times over the past year, Las Vegas is a hockey town and we look forward to cheering on our home team.”
The team does not come for cheap, as the National Hockey League requests $500 million in expansion fees. This money will be distributed evenly to the 30 other already existing teams.
The yet-to-be-named team will reside in the Pacific Division in the Western Conference starting in 2017. But due to the Eastern Conference already having more teams, nothing will change in regards to the NHL’s alignment. The team schedules will also remain the same, but will be reevaluated for the 2017-2018 to ensure every team will play in each arena at least once.
Though there have been other expansions in the league (Nashville (1998-99), Atlanta (1999-00), Columbus and Minnesota (2000-01)), this will be a whole new experience. Bettman cited the influence of social media as a huge reason that he sees this expansion being more exciting and much different.
The team will play at the newly opened, state of the art T-Mobile Arena, which has a capacity of 17,368 people for hockey games.
Bettman also announced that the expansion request from Quebec City has been deferred, much to the outrage of many. Don’t count them out for a future expansion, though.
“The Board of Governors concluded that the NHL’s lack of geographic balance, the belief that it would be best not to assimilate multiple teams into the League at this time, as well as the recent and significant devaluation of the Canadian dollar made it prudent to defer Quebecor’s application,” per the National Hockey League.
The excitement was very evident all over Vegas and the red carpet and now it’s time to wait until the expansion draft takes place. If you would like to know more about the expansions draft rules, view them below as stated by the NHL. You can also read more about the team on their website here.
The following rules were approved for the 2017 Expansion Draft:
* Clubs will have two options for players they wish to protect in the Expansion Draft:
- a) Seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender
- b) Eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender
* All players who have currently effective and continuing “No Movement” clauses at the time of the Expansion Draft (and who to decline to waive such clauses) must be protected (and will be counted toward their club’s applicable protection limits).
* All first- and second-year professionals, as well as all unsigned draft choices, will be exempt from selection (and will not be counted toward their club’s applicable protection limits).
Player Exposure Requirements
* All Clubs must meet the following minimum requirements regarding players exposed for selection in the Expansion Draft:
- i) One defenseman who is a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.
- ii) Two forwards who are a) under contract in 2017-18 and b) played in 40 or more NHL games the prior season OR played in 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.
- iii) One goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent at the expiration of his current contract immediately prior to 2017-18. If the club elects to make a restricted free agent goaltender available in order to meet this requirement, that goaltender must have received his qualifying offer prior to the submission of the club’s protected list.
* Players with potential career-ending injuries who have missed more than the previous 60 consecutive games (or who otherwise have been confirmed to have a career-threatening injury) may not be used to satisfy a club’s player exposure requirements, unless approval is received from the NHL. Such players also may be deemed exempt from selection by the League.
Regulations Relating to Expansion Franchise
* The Las Vegas franchise must select one player from each presently existing club for a total of 30 players (not including additional players who may be acquired as the result of violations of the Expansion Draft rules).
* The Las Vegas franchise must select the following number of players at each position: 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders.
* The Las Vegas franchise must select a minimum of 20 players who are under contract for the 2017-18 season.
* The Las Vegas franchise must select players with an aggregate Expansion Draft value that is between 60-100% of the prior season’s upper limit for the salary cap.
* The Las Vegas franchise may not buy out any of the players selected in the Expansion Draft earlier than the summer following its first season.
The 30 NHL clubs must submit their Protected Lists by 5:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, June 17, 2017. The Las Vegas franchise must submit its Expansion Draft selections by 5:00 p.m. ET on June 20. The announcement of their selections will be made on June 21.
2017 NHL Draft Lottery
The Las Vegas franchise will be given the same odds in the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery as the team finishing with the third-fewest points during the 2016-17 regular season.
The Las Vegas franchise’s First Round selection in the 2017 NHL Draft will be determined in accordance with the 2017 NHL Draft Lottery and, as a result, the Las Vegas franchise will be guaranteed no lower than the sixth overall selection.
The Las Vegas franchise then will select third in each subsequent round of the 2017 NHL Draft (subject to trades and other potential player transactions).