This Tuesday, the National Hockey League officially announced that they would be expanding to Seattle. The new team will be the league’s 32nd franchise. It was a unanimous decision by the board of governors, and the team will hit the ice for the 2021-2022 season. The team has yet to have an official name but ideas such as the Metropolitans, the Totems, the Emeralds and the Eagles have all been thrown around.
The team will be placed in the Pacific division. Unfortunately for the Arizona Coyotes, this means they will be pushed to the central division in order to make room.
Although the new team will have the same expansion rules as the Vegas Golden Knights who are currently in their second season, Seattle’s cost to join was 30 percent more than Vegas’. They are set to pay $650 million versus the $500 million that was paid by Vegas. The Golden Knights saw plenty of success in their inaugural season. They played their way all the way to the Stanley Cup Final where they were edged out by the Washington Capitals.
The new team’s expansion draft will have the same rules as the draft that occurred when Vegas came into the league. Seattle will take one player from each team (with the exception of VGK) resulting in 14 forwards, 9 defencemen and 3 goaltenders. Teams will have two options when protecting players. They can a) protect 7 forwards, 3 defencemen and a goalie or b) protect 8 players (F/D) and a goalie.
The new addition is something for fans to be excited about. There will be a fantastic cross-border rivalry between the Vancouver Canucks and Seattle. The city has already shown their commitment to hockey as they have been home to a Western Hockey League (one of the three major junior leagues under the Canadian Hockey League umbrella) team. The Seattle Thunderbirds have produced many former and current NHL players including Chris Osgood, Matthew Barzal (NYI), Shea Theodore (VGK) and Glenn Anderson. The teams atendance last season averaged at 4950 (Hockeydb.com) which put them in thetop half of the league.
The team will play out of KeyArena, now renamed Seattle Centre, home to a former NBA team. There will be renovations but the ownership group has said that the roof will remain the same. This was approved by the city prior to the NHL’s decison.
At this time, it is undetermined who the general manager or coach will be. Former Arizona Coyotes coach Dave Tippett is involved with the group as an advisor.
It will be incredibly interesting to see what this team will look like when they hit the ice in just under three years. Will the team have the same luck the lottery gave the Vegas Golden Knights or will they struggle as most would expect an expansion team to do? Only time will tell.
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