Why The NHL Needs To Expand, ASAP


There is a lot of talk about the potential for NHL expansion.  There are a lot of reasons why, if given the right markets, the league should add 2 more teams.

Apr 2, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; Florida Panthers right wing Scottie Upshall (19) and Tampa Bay Lightning center Tyler Johnson (63) faceoff during the first period at Tampa Bay Times Forum. Mandatory Credit: Douglas Jones-USA TODAY Sports

1.  Instant Revenues – If the league can generate an immediate $500M (2 teams @ $250M per team)in revenue instantly, it would mean an excess of $16M per team, that (as far as I can tell) would not count against Hockey Related Revenue and therefore would not affect the salary cap. The $16M would help a lot of teams struggling financially a bit of short-term help in their pocketbooks.

2.  Starving Markets – Although you could argue that there are certain markets that should not be in the league, the fact is that for the most part they are surviving if not thriving.  There are plenty of markets that are looking for an NHL franchise and that could sustain a team long-term.  There are a couple of legitimate cities in Canada alone that could land an NHL franchise and make it succeed, let alone the American markets that would be potential expansion sites.

3.  Player Retention – While some would suggest that an expansion would water-down the league, I call BS.  Look at the players still out there looking for contracts – Ilya Bryzgalov, Mikhail Grabovski, Brenden Morrow, Ron Hainsey among a list of over 50 legitimate NHLers that may or may not find jobs for the coming season.  They might not be the top end players, but combine those players with the ones who have elected to sign in Eurpoe, along with AHLers who are awaiting their NHL shot,  and there are plenty of players to stock 2 more NHL teams. As more players bolt for other leagues, most notably the KHL, the more those leagues will gain legitimacy and become a viable option for players to pursue, thereby possibly driving up prices.

4.  Slowing Down Cap Escalation – While the new franchises should be able to survive, they will, without a doubt not be among the top-end revenue teams, thereby bringing down the average while still increasing overall league revenues.  The NHLPA gets more jobs for players, while the league’s lower revenue teams benefit from a slowing of the previously rapidly escalating salary cap and consequently the salary floor.

5.  Correcting Conference Imbalance – Right now the Eastern Conference has 2 more teams, and the disparity in playoff chances is an issue to some who don’t like the 8 vs 7 team divisions.  Adding two more clubs fixes that and creates an even playing field.

There is no reason why, if the right markets are chosen and the league clubs look big-picture, that another round of expansion would not benefit everyone involved in the NHL, both present and future.