NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced on Tuesday that the city of Seattle was awarded the 32nd NHL franchise. The team will start playing in the 2021-22 season.
Congratulations, @NHLSeattle_! 👏🏼
The NHL’s 32nd franchise will begin play in the 2021-22 season!!! pic.twitter.com/bekbMiwZos
— NHL (@NHL) December 4, 2018
On December 7 of last year, the NHL set an expansion fee of $650 million for a potential franchise in Seattle. The Vegas Golden Knights paid an expansion fee of $500 million to enter the league in 2017-18.
The team will likely play at Sonics Arena, which has a seating capacity of 19,000-20,000.
The Seattle ownership group includes billionaire managing partner David Bonderman and Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Bonderman, Bruckheimer, NHL Seattle CEO Tod Leiweke and Mayor Jenny Durkan made a presentation in New York to the NHL’s executive committee on October 2, the day just prior to the 2018-19 NHL regular season started.
Two-thirds of the NHL owners had to vote “yes” for Seattle to be awarded an NHL franchise on Tuesday and there was a unanimous vote in favor of Seattle getting awarded a team.
With the franchise set to begin playing in 2021, the Seattle expansion draft will almost certainly take place the June after the 2020-21 season. When the Golden Knights expansion draft took place in June 2017, other teams had the option of protecting seven forwards, three defensemen, and one goaltender or eight skaters (combination of forwards and defenseman) and one goaltender in the expansion draft. The Golden Knights were required to select a player from each team and made side deals with each team acquiring additional NHL players, prospects, and draft picks to build for the future while the other teams got to keep the players they wanted to without protecting them on their list. The Golden Knights will be exempt from the expansion draft.
The Seattle franchise will be in the Pacific Division and the Arizona Coyotes will move to the Central Division. No other changes will be made to the divisions in 2021-22.
The Seattle franchise will begin play in the Pacific Division of the Western Conference and the @ArizonaCoyotes will realign to the Central Division. https://t.co/gYSiUWAreM #NHLSeattle pic.twitter.com/bT9myflZLF
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) December 4, 2018
A 32nd team will not change the playoff format.
Many Seattle media reporters believe the team name will be the Metropolitans.
In speaking to Seattle media here, I’m surprised how many believe the name of the new NHL team will be the Metropolitans.
If that’s the case, my formal request: We obviously must rename the Metropolitan Division as the Patrick Division, to avoid confusion.
— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) December 4, 2018
By Harrison Brown