We all knew the day was coming to get the NHL to 32 teams. Vegas joined the league last year in what wound up being the most successful run by an expansion franchise in their inaugural season ever. Seattle will begin play in the 2021-2022 season, the same year my Islanders get their new arena in Belmont. Seattle’s arena situation is a bit different though. They would be playing in a newly renovated KeyArena, which is going under a $700 million overall. When construction is finished, the rink will seat 17,400 for hockey and 18,600 for basketball (pending they’re able to convince the NBA to bring home the Sonics).
Bringing the NHL to a total of 32 teams comes with some obvious changes. First of all, it would require a bit of realignment in the pacific division. The Western Conference currently sits at eight teams in the Pacific with seven in the Central, and if you’ve recently seen where Seattle lines up on a map, you’ll know that they’d have to be placed in the Pacific for this to make any sense. This will require movement from one of the existing Pacific teams, which most experts are pinning on the Arizona Coyotes to make the jump to the Central.
The expansion of a Seattle franchise also will require another expansion draft, a process that seemingly worked out very well for the Vegas Golden Knights last time around. All teams will be able to protect a certain combination of players like in the previous Vegas expansion draft. Bill Daly has confirmed June 2021 for Seattle’s draft. All I can say is if the Seattle franchise can select half as decent as the Golden Knights did, we’ll be in for a competitive team right off the bat.
Finally, the team will need to settle on a name. The Seattle Metropolitans is one I keep seeing thrown around, based on the history the name has with the city.
Over 100 years ago, the Seattle Metropolitans were the first American franchise to ever win the Stanley Cup, before the NHL was even formed. Some are pushing to reinstate that name for the incoming team, but as a lifelong New York Mets fan team, I do not wish that bad juju on anyone.