It is inevitable the NHL is going to expand to 32 teams at soon. With the new realignment, the NHL will look to expand to in order to even out the divisions. It is no longer a question of “if” they will expand. It has now become a discussion of “when” and where.”
With this series, Predlines will look at 6 cities that are possible candidates for an NHL expansion team. Factors such as population, arena and previous hockey experience will be examined to decide the best place for the next NHL team. Where will the NHL expand its brand to next?
Arena: Toyota Center
Previous Hockey Experience: Houston Aeros (AHL affiliate of the Minnesota Wild)
Current Hockey Situation: None
Team Name They Should Pick: Houston Wranglers
Why it will work: Houston gets a bad rap for being a small market, but that accusation is unfounded. Houston has two million people within its borders. If the NHL wants to bring hockey to a larger audience, Houston is the largest city available that hasn’t been influenced by big-league hockey yet.
Why it won’t work: Texas isn’t a prime market for hockey. It’s a state that loves football. Just look at Dallas. Despite winning a Stanley Cup, the Stars have dealt with ownership issues and semi-filled buildings. The Houston Aeros, the AHL team the city hosted last year, left for Iowa this year. The city is now hockey-less, and maybe that’s the way Houston wants to stay.