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NHL Expansion Odds: Will Salt Lake City Be The Next To Bring The Franchise Home?

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com

Adam Thompson  | 6 mins

NHL Expansion Odds: Will Salt Lake City Be The Next To Bring The Franchise Home?

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Despite a messy situation going on in Phoenix, it doesn’t appear the Arizona Coyotes are relocating anytime soon. At least that’s what NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said recently.  

They are playing in a 5,000-seat arena on the Arizona State campus, but leaders have focused on a parcel of land to put a new arena, once approved.  That means relocation is no longer on the team for a list of cities hoping to bring the NHL to their communities. But expansion? That’s a different story. 

Bookies.com oddsmaker Adam Thompson has researched the landscape and created NHL odds as to which cities get their own NHL teams in the future. 

NHL Expansion OddsOddsImplied Probability
Salt Lake City+25028.6%
Houston+30025.0%
Atlanta+35022.2%
Kansas City+75011.8%
Quebec City+14006.7%
Milwaukee+18005.3%
Toronto+18005.3%
Hartford+20004.8%
The Field+10009.1%

These odds are for entertainment purposes only and do not reflect odds that may be available on legal betting apps.

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Bettman didn’t sound like a commissioner interested in expanding at a press conference in December. 

“We’re getting a lot of solicitations of interest,” Bettman said to The Hockey News. “…We think the 32 teams we have now are in great places. We like where we are. I can’t ever say ‘never’ to anything. It’s ultimately [an NHL Board of Governors] decision. But we’re not in the middle of, or interested in starting, at least right now, an expansion process.”

Still, that didn’t stop Salt Lake City from officially requesting an expansion team, and officials are pushing hard to promote their interest. Jazz owner Ryan Smith, who is leading the way, even appeared on the “Pat McAfee Show” to stump for Utah’s appeal. 

SLC’s push, with its economics and city size, makes them a frontrunner to get an NHL expansion team, whenever the time comes.  They’re not the only area looking to be part of the next wave of NHL expansion. 

The Gulf of Mexico region isn’t exactly hockey territory, but Houston is one of the five largest metro areas in the nation and it has no NHL team. Houston boasts a ton of people, a ton of business and it continues to grow. If the NHL expands, Houston can’t be far behind Salt Lake City for one of two potential teams. 

After Houston, most other top destinations either have had a team in the past or currently have a team. 

Atlanta has already had two NHL franchises in recent years, and both failed to stick in a highly competitive market. But it’s still a top-10 metro area. 

Would a third time be the charm for Atlanta? Would the NHL really want to give the city yet another opportunity without some major assurances? 

Former NHL player Anson Carter announced on March 12 he is representing an ownership group to get the league back to the region, revealing a grand plan to have a multi-sports complex and surrounding area built up in Alpharetta, Ga., roughly 25 miles north of downtown Atlanta. 

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Kansas City and Quebec City have also had NHL teams, Quebec far more recent. Kansas City would make for a natural rival for the St. Louis Blues and there’s an arena in place itching for a major pro team to make it their own. A move to KC has the blessing of Chiefs superstar QB Patrick Mahomes

Quebec City doesn’t have the size or financial potential of other destinations, though nobody can discount the passion of the fanbase. The same could be said for Hartford, which previously had the Whalers until 1997. The governor of Connecticut met with the NHL in an effort to bring the Coyotes in a possible relocation bid, though there is no viable arena at the moment – which is why the Whalers left for North Carolina and were renamed the Hurricanes.

Milwaukee also has no NHL team, a surprise considering the climate and the strong hockey interest in the state. The town would be on the smaller side and it’s just over 100 miles from Chicago, cutting into the Blackhawks market. Milwaukee has tried before to get a team to no avail but has the new Fiserv Forum to offer. 

Toronto is considered the epicenter of hockey, and it has the ever-popular Maple Leafs. But with a metro size north of seven million inhabitants, many believe the area could handle a second pro team. 

If New York, Los Angeles, and Chicago can host multiple local teams in the same sport – greater New York has three hockey teams if you count New Jersey’s Devils – Toronto and two hockey teams doesn’t sound like a reach. 

The Field includes cities that have the population or the interest, but not enough of either or are too close to another NHL market, including San FranciscoClevelandPortlandCincinnati, and Indianapolis.

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About the Author

Adam Thompson for Bookies.com
Adam Thompson
NFL writer and expert Adam Thompson joined Bookies.com in 2019 after a successful run as senior handicapper for SportsLine and CBSSports.com. He's long been established as one of the nation's premier handicappers, specializing in the NFL where he's hit on more than 60% over the past three years. Adam's NBA, PGA and horse racing picks have also produced major winners over the last 12 months. His customized NFL and NBA odds for players and teams have been picked up by hundreds of websites over the past year.