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NHL Expansion: Vegas inside track; details emerge; Seattle in limbo

It’s looking more and more like Vegas will get NHL expansion, Quebec will be delayed or denied, and Seattle will get some time to get its act together.

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2015 NHL Awards - Show
The next award is likely to the city.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Oh, the jealousy that is in my heart. It could’ve been us. It should’ve been us. Why, oh why, wasn’t it us? Oh yeah, now I remember. We weren’t in a position to apply for NHL expansion last July because of our arena situation.

As of today, we still aren’t.

But it’s happening elsewhere, folks. On June 22, the NHL is widely expected to grant expansion to the great city of Las Vegas. They just built an arena, you see. They also have north of 13,000 season ticket deposits and a booming economy.

It’s also widely expected to either deny or defer expansion to the great city of Quebec. They built the arena, but the Canadian dollar seems to have hurt their chances for now.

Details of a potential expansion draft are even beginning to leak. According to

... NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has pledged that any new expansion team will be given a more competitive roster than they have in the past.

... Las Vegas will be required to draft one player from every existing team, including at minimum at each position: three goalies, nine defencemen and 14 forwards.

... The expansion team will be given the same draft lottery odds as the team that finishes third last in the league and cannot pick later than sixth in the 2017 NHL entry draft. It’s possible the expansion team could end up with the first overall pick, if it wins the lottery.

There are other tidbits you should read in the source article.

As for Seattle’s situation...

If it’s true that the Quebec decision will be delayed or denied outright, that bodes well for our region in the future. It would give our local investors some time to get their arena ducks in a row.

We’ve had no word from Chris Hansen or Victor Coleman on the direction of the proposed arena in Sodo, but there was no known NHL-first scenario for that arena even before the City Council rejected the vacation of Occidental last month. It is likely that the only thing that could revive this project would be a tangible opportunity for an NBA franchise. Hansen and Coleman are at the mercy of both the league and the council.

We’ve received no word whatsoever of late regarding an arena proposal in Bellevue.

We did receive word today that Ray Bartoszek is still working on his project in Tukwila, though we have no details to offer. That arena would not require an NBA team for construction.

While Sodo’s challenge is political in nature, Tukwila’s is financial. The Tuktown advantage is that the city government mows down red tape like weeds in a field. If and when Bartoszek overcomes the financial obstacle, he will have mostly clear sailing.

Until that day, or until things change for the better in Sodo or Bellevue, the Seattle region remains in limbo.


A person with direct knowledge of the NHL's decision says the league has settled on Las Vegas as its choice for expansion, provided organizers can come up with a $500 million fee.

The person spoke Tuesday on condition of anonymity because details have not been released by the league ahead of its Board of Governors meeting on June 22 in Las Vegas. Quebec City was also considered for expansion.

A second person who had been briefed on the decision said Las Vegas was a "done deal" following the recommendation of the NHL's executive committee.