The NHL awarded Seattle the 32nd franchise in the league with play starting in 2021. It means major problems for the Nashville Predators.
Seattle, you are the chosen one. You are going to bring balance to the hockey world. The league will now have 32 teams, each division will be filled with 8 teams. Schedules will be equalized and teams will be on a more even footing. There will be balance. Yet, there is a dark side to all of this, and the Nashville Predators should be prepared for it all.
With Seattle joining the league, the Western Conference will experience some realignment. Seattle will logically be placed in the Pacific Division. In order to accommodate this addition, the Arizona Coyotes will move to the Central Division. This will give both divisions eight teams. Mozart would be pleased with such balance, especially given the use of the eight. However, this new balance brings concerns for the Central Division. First of all, travel.
While the Coyotes are certainly closer to teams in the Pacific Division than the Central by an average of 573 miles. As it stands now, the Predators face the Coyotes three times a season. With the re-alignment, there will be an additional game between the teams. Now, that does not sound like a big deal, but the Coyotes play the Predators tough each and every time. Last season, Nashville won two of the three games between the clubs, but each game finished with a score of 3-2, with two games going into extra time.
This year, Arizona has won two games against the Predators already, allowing only one goal.
Furthermore, this means the Coyotes will travel more during the season in order to have four games against the Central. That is not ideal for them.
There is a more urgent concern the Predators will face, and that is the Expansion Draft.