As expected, the NHL’s Board of Governors will officially vote on the Seattle expansion bid on Tuesday morning at their annual meetings. Chris Johnston of Sportsnet tweets that it is “all but certain” that the league will vote to approve Seattle and bring them in as the 32nd NHL franchise.
Though there has been some debate over whether the city’s arena project will be completed in time for the team to start playing during the 2020-21 NHL season, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan was clear that that is still the plan when speaking to King 5 News:
We think it can and so does (Oak View Group). Every major project there’s surprises, things you don’t plan for and can’t expect, and we know that, and try to build in those contingencies. But our plan is to open in 2020. We want it; they want it. I think we are going to have the best arena, I think in America.
The arena project cannot officially get started until the NHL approves the expansion, but provided everything goes according to plan this week the city will begin work to try and play in just two years. That kind of timeline is also in danger of a potential work stoppage if the NHL or NHLPA decide to use their opt-out clause in the current CBA, but will nonetheless put more work onto the plates of front offices around the league.
Like when Vegas was announced, teams around the NHL will now have to start—if they haven’t already—preparing their roster for an upcoming expansion draft. The same rules are expected to be used this time around, though the Vegas Golden Knights will likely be deemed exempt from the process altogether. As teams make trades and sign contracts over the next two years, it will always be with a thought towards their position for an expansion draft. The success of the Golden Knights was based largely on how well they navigated the process, holding teams ransom for big trade packages and picking under-utilized but talented players. You can bet the league will be better prepared this time around, but last-minute dealings will still have to happen.
The league will also likely discuss a potential realignment plan, one that apparently has already been vetted by the Board of Governors’ Executive Committee. That plan would likely have the Arizona Coyotes move to the Central Division to make room for an incoming Seattle team in the Pacific. It may not stop there though, as Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press writes that expansion may not stop at 32.