On the day of its awards show, the NHL has confirmed that it will be expanding into Las Vegas for the 2017-18 season. Following yesterday’s Board of Governors meeting, Gary Bettman officially announced the league’s expansion into the sin city: “The board of governors approved the plan of expansion that will bring an NHL team to Las Vegas for the 2017-18 season.”
The team will play at T-Mobile Arena, which is located just behind the strip between the Monte Carlo and the New York New York hotels. Owner Bill Foley has yet to name the team’s first general manager or head coach. Expect the former to be hired in the coming months while the team prepares for its inaugural season.
The team is expected to play in the Pacific Division starting in 2017. This puts the Western Conference at 15 teams and leaves the Central Division as the only one with seven teams. We will keep you posted with further updates as they become available.
Bettman also announced that they have deferred Quebec City’s application, due to the poor Canadian dollar, geographic imbalance, and a desire to limit incoming teams.
There will be an expansion draft on June 20 and 21, 2017. All teams will lose one player, and they must present a list of unprotected players by June 17. Teams may protect either 7 forwards, 3 defenseman and 1 goaltender, or 8 skaters and and 1 goaltender. All players with less than two years of pro hockey are automatically protected and won’t count against two options given. Las Vegas will be required to select 14 forwards, 9 defensemen, and 3 goaltenders.