Expansion is inevitable at this point, as the NHL is ready to start adding new franchises to the current 30 they have. With every big financial decision, the NHL needs to evaluate the pros and cons, especially when it comes to creating a bigger league. Here are some of the good and bad of expanding:
1) Expansion fees
With the reported expansion fee for any new team expected to be between $400-$500 million, the NHL has a huge chance to significantly increase its revenue. With the possibilities of new expansion teams in Seattle, Las Vegas, Toronto, and Quebec City; the expansion fees could bring in just under $1.6-$2 billion. This is really enticing for the league as Gary Bettman has been looking at new ways of creating a bigger revenue.
2) More NHL Jobs
With each additional franchise added, 23 more roster spots come up for grabs for players to take. Players and goalies who could never crack the depth of their organization can have the chance to earn a spot for a new team as the spots are available. As well, each team is allowed up to 50 contracts so there is also room for more players to be under contract to NHL teams. If the league would allow 4 expansion teams, that opens up 200 new contracts and 92 more roster spots.
3) More revenue
More teams = more money. I'm not talking about the expansion fees; i'm talking long term here. More teams would allow for more profit to be made, ranging from all different types. Whether it is the rights to broadcast the teams, or the selling of merchandise, new teams would be making more money for a league that is constantly looking to do so.
4) New Fans
Expansion will allow new fans to join the sport, as well as old ones coming back to rout for their original team (if Quebec comes back). More cities will be given a team and the hockey fans who had to cheer for other teams before will undoubtably give their support to their new team. Bringing hockey to fans who don't have a team in their city will surely gain their support, as well as the support from new hockey fans.
1) Dilution of hockey talent
Yes there will be more NHL jobs, but the openings in the world's biggest hockey league will have an affect on every league below it. The American Hockey League will see it's talent decrease as more players will be in the NHL, and same can be said for Junior hockey clubs as well. European leagues will see many of their players making the jump to North America to fill these empty roster spots in these leagues.
The on ice talent in the NHL may as well be diluted, as the leagues best talents will now be spread across more teams. That means finding that true #1 centre or goaltender will be even more difficult as there is more demand (by teams) than there is supply. For example, only a handful of NHL teams have true number one centres at the moment, and that number will surely shrink in percentage if more teams are added.
2) Questions about the sustainability of certain markets
Every hockey fan can agree that Quebec City can for sure sustain a NHL franchise, and the same can be argued for Seattle. Las Vegas poses some question marks in this, for reasons many people know about. The problem with expansion teams is that they will be bad for a while, as they need years of drafting high to finally become good (Example: Columbus). Putting a team in a new market will gain interest the first season or two, but it is keeping that interest going for many years that is the hard part. If the market doesn't work out, then the League is stuck with a team that they may need to help out, such as when they stepped in for Arizona, New Jersey, and Florida when they were all in owner/financial difficulties.
3) Possible changes to divisional alignments and playoff formats
Possible divisions with new teams in Seattle and QC, courtesy of Hometownhockey.ca
With adding more teams, surely the divisions will need to be aligned again, and the problem with this is that a team may be stuck in a bad division where their time zone and travel time will be factors that affect them negatively. The Detroit Red Wings used to play in the Western Conference, and they had that exact problem. If more teams will be added in the east, say Quebec City and Toronto/Hamilton, will they need to move back?
The playoffs may need to be expanded, but don't ask me how. All I know is that if more teams are added then more playoff spots should be given in order to not keep too many teams out of the Stanley Cup race. This would need some adjusting.