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Added June 28th, 2016 by Ian
NHL

NHL opens up shop in Las Vegas

The NHL announced on June 22 that it will officially be expanding to Las Vegas, Nevada for the 2017/18 season. League commissioner Gary Bettman made the announcement before the NHL Awards Ceremony and said the league’s 31st franchise will play in the Western Conference. The Las Vegas bid was approved when the Board of Governors voted unanimously to accept it. The club will play in the brand new T-Mobile Arena and will pay a $500 million entry fee to the league. Las Vegas now has its first major professional sports franchise and it’s the first time the NHL has expanded since the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets entered the league in 2000/01.

The Las Vegas franchise bid was spearheaded by billionaire businessman Bill Foley. The $500 million expansion fee will be divided equally among the NHL’s 30 existing clubs. Foley said he would like to have the team’s name and logo in place by the time the 2016/17 NHL campaign faces off so the franchise can begin selling merchandise. Foley said he hopes to call the team the Black Knights, but nothing has been written in stone as of yet and the NHL may also have some suggestions for a suitable name.

As well as granting a franchise to Sin City, the NHL announced that the application it received from Quebecor Inc. for an expansion franchise in Quebec City, has been deferred. This means Quebec City, which once had a franchise before it moved to Denver to become the Colorado Avalanche, will have to wait at least a few more years. Quebec also has a new arena in place, named the Videotron Centre, but it’s believed the NHL decided to pass on the bid at the moment due to the weak Canadian dollar, which is currently worth about 78 cents U.S.

With the addition of Las Vegas to the Western Conference it means the West will now have 15 teams while the East has 16. Las Vegas becomes the eighth club in the Pacific Division as it joins the Los Angeles Kings, San Jose Sharks, Anaheim Ducks, Vancouver Canucks, Arizona Coyotes, Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers. The new T-Mobile Arena sits just west of the Las Vegas Strip and it will be able to seat 17,368 fans for NHL games. Las Vegas received over 14,000 applications for season tickets and the rink’s luxury seats have also been sold over the past 16 months during a season-ticket drive. Foley said as many as 90 per cent of the fans could be season-ticket holders.

The NHL said Las Vegas will be able to add existing players through an expansion draft which will be held in the summer of 2017. Bettman believes the new franchise needs to be competitive as soon as possible. The other 30 teams in the league will submit a list of unprotected players before the draft, but they’ll only be able to lose one player each. The new club will be able to select as many as 14 forwards along with three goaltenders and nine defensemen. Las Vegas has to select at least 20 players who are under contract for the 2017-18 campaign. In addition, the players’ salaries need to add up to a minimum of 60 per cent of the salary cap which will be set at $73 million.

The other 30 clubs will be able to protect seven forwards a goaltender and three defensemen or eight players at any position as well as a goaltender. However, players with no-movement contracts must be protected unless the player agrees to go into the draft. The 30 clubs must submit their protected lists by June 17, 2017. Las Vegas will choose players on June 20th and the club’s choices will be announced the next day. There will also be some draft exemptions based on the number of NHL games a player has appeared in. Las Vegas will also go into the 2017 draft lottery with the same odds as next season’s third-last team. The new franchise will be guaranteed to draft at least sixth next summer.

 
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