NHL won't vote on Seattle expansion until December, at the earliest

CHICAGO -- December is the earliest the NHL board of governors will vote on potential expansion to Seattle, NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Thursday.

Daly also called it "doubtful" any formal vote will happen on a Seattle franchise between meetings in October and December. Seattle Hockey Partners, the group looking to bring the NHL to the Pacific Northwest, will make a presentation to board's executive committee on Oct. 2. No vote will take place that day.

"We would have the vote in person," Daly said, referring to the annual December meeting that will take place in Florida.

The Vegas Golden Knights played their first season in 2017-18 as the league's 31st team. Although commissioner Gary Bettman has stated repeatedly the NHL is in no rush to expand, there are positives beyond what will be a $650 million expansion fee.

"It does provide alignment for the league," Daly said. "We've been misaligned for a couple years in the sense of more teams in the East and less in the West, so that would be a benefit if we were to expand."

Daly said that a Seattle team likely would enter the league in the 2021-22 season, "so we have some time."

"I think the ownership group is on board with that timeline," he said. "That's not set in stone, but I don't think either side is feeling any time pressure."

After four seasons of 16 teams in the Eastern Conference and 14 in the West, it was 16 and 15 last year with Vegas. The prospective Seattle ownership group has targeted the 2020-21 season to start, pending renovations of KeyArena.

Having an arena plan in place is one of the final pieces to getting the NHL to Seattle. Season-ticket deposits are sold out, and Daly said he has seen nothing to indicate any concern about Seattle as a hockey market.

ESPN's Emily Kaplan contributed to this report.