The NHL may be coming to Seattle. According to a new report in The Seattle Times, the Seattle City Council approved the Memorandum of Understanding between the city and the Oak View Group that would allow the completion of renovation on KeyArena for the use of both an NHL and NBA franchise. The council voted 7-1 in favor and the renovation is expected to be completed as early as October in 2020 and will cost $600 million (though the figure has also been reported as $660 million by other outlets).
That information in itself is intriguing, but the report goes on to state that with this deal in place, the NHL is expected to make an announcement of their own in the coming months that would effectively confirm that there will be a franchise in the city of Seattle. Whether that team comes in the form of an expansion team or in the form of relocation isn’t yet known, but it would appear that a new NHL franchise is now imminent within the next few years.
Related: 10 Potential Seattle Franchise Names
The Vegas Golden Knights, the NHL’s newest franchise currently in the middle of their inaugural season in the league, are bucking the trend of recent expansion teams struggling from the get-go. With a 16-9-1 record and 33 points through 26 games, the Golden Knights occupy the second spot in the Pacific Division and are in a three-way tie for ninth place in the league with the defending Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins and the Dallas Stars.
Vegas Golden Knights left wing Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports)
If the NHL does decide to award another expansion team to a city, the re-vamped expansion process could put the Seattle franchise in a good situation to succeed right away. As the Golden Knights have shown early on, the process gives a good opportunity to not only build a strong roster but a strong prospect pool as well. The expansion process isn’t the only way that Seattle could get their team though as relocation is an ever-present option.
Relocation A Real Possibility
With both the Arizona Coyotes and Calgary Flames unable to secure new arena deals in their current cities due to a variety of reasons, both franchises hold a distinct possibility of being relocated. There are other teams as well who could be considered candidates for relocation, but it’s far too early in the process to start speculating on which team could potentially move, especially when it isn’t even known if any team will have to move by 2020.
Arizona Coyotes goalie Adin Hill (Candice Ward-USA TODAY Sports)
Still, if the NHL does decide that relocation is the best course of action, the Seattle franchise could be getting an already constructed team complete with players, prospects and the like. The last time a team was relocated, the Atlanta Thrashers were moved to Winnipeg to form the Jets that are currently the top team in the NHL. It’s an interesting possibility, especially considering how many years the Jets struggled before finally becoming a top team in the league. There’s also the possibility that Seattle would be getting a roster like the Arizona Coyotes’ which has proven to be among the league’s worst for much of its recent past, including the 2017-18 season.
Artist Rendering of renovated KeyArena in Seattle Washington. (Photo – Office of the Mayor, Seattle, WA)
Despite this, getting an NHL franchise in Seattle is the top goal. Whether that team comes through expansion or relocation isn’t the important factor at this point in the discussion. Once things are finalized, the city will undoubtedly want a winning franchise, but as it stands, they’ll settle for a franchise in general right now. This rings true for the return of an NBA franchise as well as the city has sorely missed the Seattle SuperSonics since they moved to Oklahoma City in 2008. The city, however, does currently house the Seattle Seahawks of the NFL, Seattle Mariners of MLB, Seattle Sounders of the MLS and the Seattle Thunderbirds of the WHL.