Gary Bettman standing in front of a podium with the NHL.
Photo credit: Cult MTL

One city comes out of the bidding for new NHL expansion franchise

Published March 15, 2024 at 5:35 PM

There's been plenty of talk about the future of NHL expansion in recent weeks, with cities like Atlanta and Salt Lake City making official requests to move forward with the expansion process. Additionally, the Arizona Coyotes are in the process of trying to find a new arena and they're failing - leading to discussions of immediate relocation this summer. Now however, NHL insider Elliotte Friedman is reporting that Houston is seeming like they're out of the running for a new franchise.

According to Friedman, the prospective ownership group in Houston is unwilling to pay the price to acquire an expansion team, which is currently set at $1B after the Seattle Kraken purchase. Even the Ottawa Senators, recently bought by Michael Andlauer, came in just under $1B - much bigger markets like Houston would be priced much higher.

With Houston out of the running, that leaves Atlanta and Salt Lake City as the front runners to be the next NHL destinations. Adding both would be perfect for league formations too, having Atlanta in the east and Utah in the west. Also mentioned by Friedman, Quebec City has expressed constant return for the Nordiques, but isn't as far along in the process as the other cities.

We're also headed into a CBA negotiation, with the COVID-era extension expiring after the 2025-26 season. Now, I'm not naive enough to believe there will be no issues, but what I do believe is that there's no issue right now that should shut-down play. Whatever the case, the league knows 50 new jobs is incentive for players to get a deal done.

The NHL is truly expanding at a rapid rate, and it's not unlikely that both Atalanta and Utah are added to the league within the next 10 years. According to Friedman, this rapid expansion could be a tactic by the NHL to ensure the next CBA passes without problems from the NHLPA - the way Gary Bettman sees it, 50 new NHL players will put further pressure on the Players' Union to get a deal done, and avoid a lockout. We'll have to see.
March 15   |   1326 answers
One city comes out of the bidding for new NHL expansion franchise

Who will be the next expansion franchise?

Atlanta20715.6 %
Utah44833.8 %
Quebec City55842.1 %
Other1138.5 %
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