Seattle to Quebec City: All the latest NHL expansion and relocation possibilities

With the NHL's unsurprising, yet monumental announcement Thursday that it will accept applications from Seattle to host an expansion team, it's only a matter of time before the Vegas Golden Knights are usurped as the league's newest franchise.

Commissioner Gary Bettman didn't hesitate to lay down the price ($650 million) and the specifics (the NHL is "only" interested in expanding to Seattle) when the league welcomed a 32nd team this week. But that doesn't mean there is a lack of speculative alternatives on the table.

If the NHL is bent on setting up shop specifically in Seattle, it has plenty of reasons to defend that plan -- for one, there's the city's approval of a glamorous renovation for KeyArena, which is expected to be NHL-ready by 2020. But keeping its eyes on Seattle won't prevent the NHL from combating suggestions of other expansion -- or relocation -- possibilities, especially since other cities have already either openly campaigned for hockey or drawn previous consideration from the league.

Here's a look at all the expansion and relocation possibilities around the league:

Seattle: This is the obvious one because, well, it's happening. Bettman didn't guarantee that Seattle will get a team, but if the NHL is narrowing its search for a 32nd club to one city, let alone one with $600 million worth of arena redevelopment on the way, the odds of hockey coming to Washington are pretty good. The last time Seattle truly went big on the hockey scene was in the 1920s, when the area's Pacific Coast Hockey Association team was fresh off a Stanley Cup win. Nowadays, as the Globe And Mail reported, Seattle owns a top-15 media market in the United States and is the only city in the top 25 without both an NBA and NHL team. If you haven't started already, it's probably safe to start ranking nickname possibilities for this city's forthcoming team.

Carolina: As reported by the Associated Press, the Hurricanes have been purchased by Dallas billionaire Tom Dundon after longstanding talk of a sale by owner Peter Karmanos. With an oft-flimsy on-ice product and an even more disconcerting market, the team has been a popular choice among fans and media looking for relocation candidates, but Bettman announced Thursday that Dundon bought his majority stake "to have the Hurricanes in Carolina." That won't necessarily stop speculation from those who read into Dundon's home state, which doesn't have an NHL team, but for now, the Canes appear grounded in Carolina.

Arizona: After Andrew Barroway became the sole owner of the Coyotes over the summer, he proclaimed that his team "couldn't be more committed to Arizona and the Valley," but Bettman is still on the lookout for a new arena here. There have been plenty of questions in recent years about the Coyotes' stability both as a competitive team and as a long-term product in Arizona (it's only been a little over 15 years since the franchise moved from Winnipeg). Keep in mind, though, that the Coyotes now employ Steve Patterson, the former Arizona State University athletic director who helped finance NRG Stadium in -- wait for it -- Houston.

Calgary: Here's the big wild card. All indications are that the NHL is insistent on staying in Calgary, and why wouldn't the league want to keep those ties? But the Flames are also just a few months removed from a local bombshell -- the one where team president Ken King said it's "time to stop pretending" the city has any interest in helping build a new arena, a feat on which Bettman has harped. Talk out of Calgary suggests there's a "very slim" possibility the Flames could ultimately be on the move, but for now, Bettman will just have to hope his stern demands -- "There will be consequences" -- spark change from someone in the ordeal.

Quebec City: The snub of the decade, this esteemed Canadian city has now been turned away twice in the last two expansion processes (unless the NHL dramatically reverses course) since the Nordiques left town in the 1990s. Deputy NHL commissioner Bill Daly said the Seattle application process shouldn't have "any impact on Quebec City," per the Globe And Mail. But he also said that if Seattle were to be granted a team, the NHL would have solved its conference balance issue. How, then, would a 33rd team in Quebec City make any sense? The best shot for re-entry may have been when Vegas got the nod last time around.

Houston: This area had already been reported as a site of consideration for a new or relocated team. A lot of the speculation centers on new Houston Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta openly encouraging an NHL presence at the NBA club's Toyota Center, but Bettman has never publicly confirmed any discussions regarding a move or expansion to Texas.

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