The possibility of NHL expansion has become a popular topic lately and Vancouver Province columnist Tony Gallagher’s recent report has only added fuel to that flame.
Sources close to the situation have indicated Las Vegas is a done deal, the only thing to be determined being which owner will be entitled to proclaim that he brought the first major league sports franchise to Sin City.
Gallagher went on to suggest that one or more other western cities were likely to be included in the NHL’s eventual expansion plans, but it was the idea that the NHL going to Vegas is a done deal that obviously attracted the most attention.
Although the idea of an NHL team being founded in Sin City might seem like a pipe dream, the suggestion of it happening isn’t without precedence.
Back in December, TSN’s Bob McKenzie suggested that Vegas was second to only Seattle on the list of possible expansion destinations for the NHL. However, at the time he added that there “are no formal plans for expansion.”
The NHL also has established a presence in Las Vegas as the Kings have played an annual preseason game in Nevada since 1997 (with the exception of 2004 and 2012 due to the lockouts) and Vegas has hosted the league’s award show.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman was noncommittal when talking about the possibility in June, but he also wasn’t dismissive.
“I know Las Vegas is an important city,” Bettman said. “Whether or not it’s a city for the NHL to put a team in is still to be determined. We have not done any investigating as to whether or not the city could support the NHL or looked at potential ownership groups. If the owners were to approve expansion, we would certainly begin looking more closely at Las Vegas and other potential markets.”
Bettman also said back in 2009 that it was only a matter of time before Vegas got a professional sports team. Whether or not its the NHL that first takes the plunge into Vegas remains to be seen.
Is the NHL getting closer to putting a team in Vegas?
The Los Angeles Kings came away with a 5-2 preseason win over the Vancouver Canucks in the first of the 2017 NHL China Games. This contest took place in lovely Shanghai.
Adrian Kempe got the ball rolling for Kings, as he scored the first goal of the game on the power play to make it 1-0 for his team (top).
Kings forward Tanner Pearson scored a great shorthanded breakaway goal to extend Los Angeles’ lead to 2-0 (check out the Pearson goal by clicking the video below).
The shorthanded goal against wasn’t the only issue the Canucks power play had in this game. Vancouver managed to score once on the man-advantage, but they finished the game 1-for-14 in that department (yes, it’s only a preseason game).
with Vancouver trailing 3-0 in the second period, Sven Baertschi finally got them on the board to cut the Kings lead to 3-1.
Markus Granlund made it 3-2 in the third period, but that’s as close as the Canucks would come to tying the score.
Pearson extended Los Angeles’ lead to 4-2 before Jeff Carter finished off the game with an empty-net goal.
These two teams will meet again in Beijing on Saturday at 3:30 a.m. ET.
Torey Krug‘s 2017 training camp is officially over.
The Bruins defenseman suffered a non-displaced fracture in his jaw after taking a puck to the face in Tuesday’s preseason game against the Red Wings.
General Manager Don Sweeney expects Krug to be re-evaluated in three weeks, which means he could miss Boston’s regular-season opener against Nashville on Oct. 5.
Losing Krug for any regular season games would be huge for the Bruins, as he had eight goals and 51 points in 81 games last season.
In other injury news, the Bruins also announced that forward Matt Beleskey (foot contusion) is day-to-day. He was hurt in Boston’s preseason opener against Montreal on Monday.
Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson (upper body) is also day-to-day. He was injured against the Red Wings, too.
It looks like the Washington Capitals are going to give Jakub Vrana the opportunity of a lifetime.
Washington has given the young winger a chance to earn a spot on the right side of the top line with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin.
On Wednesday night, they got to put the chemistry to the test, as Vrana and the Caps played the Canadiens in Montreal.
Vrana finished the game with a power play goal (an innocent shot that went off Canadiens defenseman Brandon Davidson and in the net). Kuznetsov and Ovechkin registered the assists on the goal and the Caps won 4-2.
“We played fast today,” Vrana said, per the Washington Post. “We had some passes today, some chances. It’s always a good sign when you have chances. … You’re going to be confident when you play with guys like this. You’re just going to be confident on the ice with the puck. Just play fast and build some chemistry there.”
The 21-year-old got his first taste of real NHL action last season, but the production simply wasn’t there (three goals and three assists in 21 games). But the 13th overall pick in the 2014 draft did put up solid numbers in the AHL, as he had 36 points in 49 games last year and 34 points in 36 games with the Hershey Bears two years ago.
“He gets to space,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “He gets on the puck because he moves his legs and his speed is noticeable. Kuzy can get him the puck, and getting down ice, he can put some pressure to create a forecheck, too. He worked hard today, and I think we keep putting him with top players, because we think he’s going to be a top player.”
The Vancouver Canucks and L.A. Kings will make history on Thursday.
The two teams will face each other in an exhibition series in China, marking the first time NHL teams will play preseason games in that country. The two-game set gets underway with Thursday’s contest from the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Shanghai.
Set your alarms, wake up early (especially if you’re on the west coast!), put on a pot of coffee and catch the game on NBCSN (7:30 a.m. ET) or online with the live stream.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Here are some links to check out for today’s game:
NHL hopes to make inroads in China with exhibition games
It was a little on the foggy side for Canucks practice in Shanghai
Canucks-Kings exhibition series in China highlights preseason schedule
NHL preseason games in China are ‘the biggest deal’ for local fans
NHL looks to China to ‘expand the sport’