The National Hockey League made official what everyone pretty much knew already. The league is adding a 32nd team, to play in Seattle beginning in the 2021 season.

The league just expanded to Las Vegas with the Golden Knights last season, and the Golden Knights were the most wildly successful expansion team in professional sports history, playing in the Stanley Cup Final against eventual winner Washington.

How will this affect the Detroit Red Wings, or any other team? Well, on a practical level, it means one more game on the West Coast, which is exactly why the team wanted out of the Western Conference. But as far as what players may come and go, the NHL for the Las Vegas expansion draft set the rules much more favorably for the new team than in previous times when the league added teams. While no one expects Seattle to play for the Stanley Cup in their inaugural season, Las Vegas did set the bar very very high.

Back to the Red Wings, in the past, teams were allowed to protect most of the best players and expose mainly those they didn't mind losing. With the draft last year, Las Vegas had opportunity at a competitive roster, because of the talent available.  (There's a detailed explanation of last season's expansion draft rules on wikipedia.)

While the Red Wings ended up only losing Tomas Nosek (who has done virtually nothing in Las Vegas), many other teams had talented players drafter off their rosters, and with a few successful trades (as with Marc-Andre Fleury), former Red Wing and Vegas coach Gerard Gallant had a roster of many young and not so young players with chips on their shoulders.

Looking at the current Red Wing roster, most of the core of talented young players would probably be protected, and if the team lost a Jimmy Howard type player, losing an aging veteran might be acceptable to a rebuilding team. And keep in mind, the Seattle expansion draft is still more than two years away. A lot can change.


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