Fansided
Analysis

Impact On Chicago Blackhawks From Possible Seattle-Based Franchise

tmartens
SEATTLE, WA - JULY 21: A general exterior view of Key Arena during the WNBA All-Stars Flag Raising at the Space Needle as part of the 2017 WNBA All-Star at the Space Needle on July 21, 2017 in Seattle, Washington.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by David Dow/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA - JULY 21: A general exterior view of Key Arena during the WNBA All-Stars Flag Raising at the Space Needle as part of the 2017 WNBA All-Star at the Space Needle on July 21, 2017 in Seattle, Washington.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by David Dow/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

Seattle may be in line to land a new NHL franchise. How would a new professional hockey team in Seattle affect the Chicago Blackhawks?

This past Monday, the Seattle City Council voted 7-1 in favor of a $660 million renovation deal of KeyArena in downtown Seattle. Speculation of a possible NHL franchise coming to the Northwest city started almost immediately after the news broke.

Seattle was part of the bidding process that resulted in the NHL’s 31st team, the Vegas Golden Knights, just a few years ago. A stadium seems to be the last hurdle the city needed to jump in order to land a professional hockey team.

While residents of Seattle are asking questions that include when a possible NHL team could arrive (the stadium renovation is said to be complete by the fall of 2020) or what they would be called (Grinders? Sonics? Sasquatch?), let’s look at what effect a team landing in Seattle could have on the rest of the NHL, specifically the Chicago Blackhawks.

Divisional changes

Currently, the 31 NHL teams are separated with 16 teams in the East and 15 teams in the West. Obviously, the geographic location of Seattle would have the team landing in the Western Conference, which works perfectly for an even 16 teams in each conference. But what divisional changes would occur?

Seattle would need to land in the Pacific Division, but that would put it at nine teams. The Central would have to take on another team if the divisions are to continue being split at eight teams each. Geographically speaking, the Arizona Coyotes would make the most sense to move to the Central, although that really spreads out the map for the division.

More from Blackhawk Up

Chicago, Minneapolis, Nashville, St. Louis and Winnipeg are all more than 1,200 miles away from Phoenix, with the Blackhawks being farthest away at more than 1,450 miles. That is the kind of divisional travel schedule the NHL was trying to eliminate when the league was realigned before the 2013-14 season.

Possibly a better solution for the NHL would be creating four separate divisions for each conference, just how the NFL is divided.

The Western Conference could be divided into the North (of the border): Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver and Winnipeg; the Midwest: Chicago, Minneapolis, Nashville and St. Louis; the West: Anaheim, Los Angeles, San Jose and Seattle; and the South: Colorado, Dallas, Phoenix and Vegas.

A four-division-per-conference setup could mean the top two teams in each division make the playoffs, or it could just be division winners with four wild-card spots. Either way, changing to this format could hopefully eliminate the current playoff bracket designed to have divisional teams playing each other in the early rounds.

This would do away with the repeated early-round matchups we have seen over the last few years, such as the Blackhawks playing both the Predators and the Blues twice in the first round since the format changed four years ago.

Expansion draft

More from Analysis

On top of all of this, Seattle likely would have an expansion draft similar to what we saw from Vegas last summer. This would mean the Blackhawks would have to expose a few players for Seattle to pick from.

General manager Stan Bowman would need to keep this in mind when trying to sign young prospects and free agents in the offseason, as well as re-signing veterans on the team. If the expansion draft was to come in the summer of 2020, that would mean there is only two more offseasons before the summer when players would be exposed again.

The expansion draft in Vegas protected players that had no-trade clauses, which players like Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Artem Anisimov would still have in the 2019-20 offseason. Hopefully, a looming expansion draft would encourage Bowman to discontinue giving out no-trade/no-movement clauses the next few offseasons, as he has a history of giving these out a bit too easily.

If Seattle does get an NHL franchise in their city, it is likely there will be changes the Blackhawks will feel. Whether it be a total switch in the layout of divisions or simply adding one more team that is pretty far away geographically to the Central, there will be some minor adjustments for the ‘Hawks and divisional opponents.

Next: Latest Lines An Overreaction

On top of this, the team will need to plan for an expansion draft that would have the new franchise possibly plucking a young player from the Blackhawks. It will be fun to see how the possible expansion to 32 teams plays out over the coming weeks and months, and something to keep an eye on for all Blackhawks fans.

facebooktwitterreddit