CALGARY, AB -- Count Calgary Flames general manager Brad Treliving as being on board with the thought of the National Hockey League expanding to Las Vegas.
After all, he’s seen hockey thrive in a desert situation.
“I think it’s great if in fact that’s what takes place,” said Treliving, who worked as an assistant general manager under Don Maloney with the Arizona Coyotes for seven seasons. “Who doesn’t like Vegas? I think having spent a large chunk of time in the desert I think it’s great. I think it’s great for the growth of our game.”
The NHL could find out soon.
The Board of Governors is scheduled to vote on giving Las Vegas an expansion team during meetings on Wednesday, prior to the NHL Awards.
The last expansion came 16 years ago, when the NHL welcomed the Columbus Blue Jackets and Minnesota Wild into the league as the 29th and 30th franchises. The expansion draft was held on June 23, 2000.
It’s been widely speculated that Wednesday’s vote will pass, making the NHL the first of the four major North American professional sports leagues to put a team in Las Vegas. T-Mobile Arena, which would house the team, opened April 6. It is one block west of the Las Vegas strip.
Treliving suggested opening a franchise in Las Vegas would help further development of the game in America, specifically in his familiar southwest region.
It's come a long way already.
“I can tell you first hand in the southwest United States that the game is thriving. It’s growing,” Treliving said. “The youth participation is expanding at record numbers to the point we’re seeing players come out of there. Potentially the top pick in the draft this year (Auston Matthews) was groomed in Phoenix, Arizona. Who would’ve thought? We’ve seen players. Jason Zucker in Minnesota is the product of Las Vegas minor hockey.
“I think it’ll be a good thing.”
Even if it could complicate things on the hockey front for he and 29 other GM’s.
Though nothing has been finalized, rules surrounding an expansion draft could have significant implications on roster management as early as the 2016-17 season.
It's already under consideration, according to Treliving.
Homework has already started to happen on how such an expansion draft might impact his Flames.
“It creates a new filter of a thought process, right?” Treliving said. “If there’s no expansion, you’re not looking at a year from now and who you have to protect. It creates a new filter that way. We’ve done some mock stuff earlier on in preparation to see. Until you really get all of the rules and regulations to see how it unfolds there is a little bit of an unknown.
“But no question it’s something that you have to take into consideration. You have to do some predictive assumptions here of where your roster might be, and therefore who you may have to protect or make available and those types of things. I think we’ve done as much as we can until we know what the rules are, and here’s what your exposure may or may not be.”