Seattle Totems? A Possible NHL Expansion Team in the Emerald City

  • Corey Parkinson
  • 03/22/2018
  • 9
Seattle Totems NHL expansion dcpuckdrop

DCpuckDrop’s newest contributor, Corey Parkinson, provides analysis on a possible new NHL franchise that may one day grace the Capital One Arena to play against the Caps: The Seattle Totems?

By Corey Parkinson
Contributor, DCpuckDrop

With the success of the expansion team Vegas Golden Knights, it is easy to understand why the NHL is already looking for their next potential market. Although cities like Houston, Quebec, and Hamilton have been mentioned as potential landing spots for either a relocated or expansion franchise, it seems none of those cities are at the top of the list. That honor belongs to Seattle, which seems to be extremely close to being granted the NHL’s 32nd franchise.

This past December, the Seattle city council voted 7-1 to approve a memorandum of understanding with Tim Leiweke and his Oak View Group. This deal covers the renovations necessary to KeyArena that would make it suitable for an NHL team. If all goes according to plan, groundbreaking would take place in October with a completion date of 2020.  With the arena in place, the Oak View Group filed for an expansion team with the NHL last month.

Will It Be The ‘Seattle Totems’?

In March, the Oak View Group started a ticket drive to gauge interest and – within 75 minutes – 25,000 deposits were received. With that kind of response, it’s almost a certainty that Seattle will be granted an expansion franchise here in the coming months.

One of the first questions that arises is what will the new team be called? Seattle has a rich history of hockey with teams like the Thunderbirds, Americans, Bombers, Metropolitans and team names such as Rainers, Krackens, and Emeralds floated out there already, it seems there will be no issues with finding an identity.

Recently, Washington Governor Jay Inslee may have inadvertently released the new team name when discussing a possible transportation link between Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver by stating: “We cannot wait to get on a high-speed rail line to come up and have the greatest hockey rivalry in North American – which is the Seattle Totems versus the Vancouver Canucks.”

The rail line proposed actually brings up another question. How does a new Seattle team impact the NHL division and conference alignment? Currently, the NHL is split into four divisions divided into two conferences:

Eastern Conference (16 Teams)

Atlantic Division

  • Boston Bruins
  • Buffalo Sabres
  • Detroit Red Wings
  • Florida Panthers
  • Montreal Canadiens
  • Ottawa Senators
  • Tampa Bay Lightning
  • Toronto Maple Leafs

Metropolitan Division

  • Carolina Hurricanes
  • Columbus Blue Jackets
  • New Jersey Devils
  • New York Islanders
  • New York Rangers
  • Philadelphia Flyers
  • Pittsburgh Penguins
  • Washington Capitals

Western Conference (15 Teams)

Central Division

  • Chicago Blackhawks
  • Colorado Avalanche
  • Dallas Stars
  • Minnesota Wild
  • Nashville Predators
  • St. Louis Blues
  • Winnipeg Jets

Pacific Division

  • Anaheim Ducks
  • Arizona Coyotes
  • Calgary Flames
  • Edmonton Oilers
  • Los Angeles Kings
  • San Jose Sharks
  • Vancouver Canucks
  • Vegas Golden Knights

The NHL would almost certainly place a new Seattle franchise into the Western Conference’s Pacific Division – which would give the Western Conference a total of 16 teams. One possibility of balancing the league would be to move the Arizona Coyotes over to the Central Division. This would leave each Conference with 16 teams and eight teams in each division.

The NHL is inevitably expanding, and Seattle is the top candidate. Prepare yourselves for the “Seattle Totems” because they’re coming and given the Golden Knights success in their inaugural season, the Seattle franchise may be even more exciting than Vegas.