(March 17, 2016) – With National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman now formally saying that some kind of verdict – even if it’s that there is no verdict – should be coming on NHL expansion by the 2016 NHL Draft, I wanted to take a closer look at what lies ahead for the potential new franchises.

Bettman was quick to say that expansion is still an “IF” and not necessarily a “WHEN”, so all of this is purely hypothetical in nature. What we do know for sure is that there are only two candidates for expansion at this time: Las Vegas and Quebec City.

In the coming days and weeks (months?), I want to delve into the possibilities for the Expansion Draft, to see what possible pickings will be presented to the might-be teams. Before we get into that, though, let’s take a closer look at the two cities hoping to land an NHL franchise.

Businessman Bill Foley and the Maloof family lead the way for Las Vegas’ bid. Foley is the Chairman of the Board for Fidelity National Financial, among other enterprises. The Maloofs, meanwhile, have owned a few basketball franchises, including two NBA teams (Houston and Sacramento), as well as hotels in Las Vegas, in addition to other business ventures.

The would-be Vegas team would play at the brand-new T-Mobile Arena on the Las Vegas Strip, located right behind the New York, New York Hotel. The building, set to open in early April, it co-owned by the Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) – which owns of the Los Angeles Kings – and MGM Resorts International.

Meanwhile, the Quebecor Group runs the bid to bring a team back to Quebec City. Quebecor already owns the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Like the Remparts, a new NHL team would play in the Videotron Centre, which opened in September, 2015. Quebecor manages the arena and owns the naming rights (Videotron is a cable company owned by Quebecor).

Of course, Quebec City has been home to NHL hockey in the past, with the Quebec Nordiques playing in the NHL from 1979 until relocating to Colorado in 1995 to become the Avalanche (the Nordiques were members of the WHA from 1972 until the NHL/WHA merger). Historically, Quebec City was also home to the Quebec Bulldogs of the old National Hockey Association as well as for a single season (1919-20) in the NHL.

Two years after the original Nordiques moved out, the Remparts moved in. The Remparts have played in Quebec City since 1997 (and in the Quebec City area since 1990-91 when they were known as the Beauport Harfangs), and have posted some outstanding attendance numbers (all statistics from this point forward are according to hockeyDB.com). Just last season, the Remparts averaged a QMJHL-leading 9,698 fans per game, and that ranked as the team’s lowest average in the last five years. This season (as of this writing), the Remparts have drawn an average of 13,796 fans to the Videotron Centre. This is a major turnaround from the team’s first few seasons, where they averaged 1,873 fans (1997-98), 2,130 fans (1998-99) and didn’t top 5,500 fans on average until 2003-04 (5,933).

NOTE: The team’s first two seasons were played at Laval University before moving to the Colisée Pepsi, where they played until 2015-16.

Las Vegas has never been home to an NHL-level professional hockey team, but there have been lower-level teams in southern Nevada. Most-recently, the Las Vegas Wranglers played in the ECHL from 2003-04 until 2013-14. The Wranglers played at the Orleans Arena, and drew pretty well. The average attendance peaked at 5,531 in 2005-06, and was still sitting at 4,581 in the team’s final season in 2013-14 (this for an arena that sat under 8,000 people for hockey). Of the 11 seasons they played, the team topped an average attendance of 4,300 in all but one year (2010-11) and topped 4,900 five times. In their best season (2005-06), the Wranglers ranked seventh in the league in average attendance.

Vegas has also been home to other teams, including the IHL’s Las Vegas Thunder (1993-1999).

The NHL has been to Las Vegas on a few occasions. The annual NHL Awards ceremonies have been held in Las Vegas for a few years now, and the league even played a preseason outdoor game in Las Vegas in 1991 between the Los Angeles Kings and the New York Rangers. The Los Angeles Kings began playing an annual indoor preseason game in Las Vegas in 1997, playing at least one game every year (except for the 2004-05 NHL Lockout season). Most recently, the Kings blanked the Colorado Avalanche 4-0 on October 3, 2015.

Speaking of the preseason, the Videotron Centre was the site of an NHL preseason contest between the Montreal Canadiens and the Pittsburgh Penguins back on September 28, 2015. ESPN reported a sellout crowd in attendance, as 18,259 fans piled into the brand-new building for the contest.

While Las Vegas’ new building is yet to open, Bill Foley announced last month that the ownership group has already received “over 14,000 season ticket deposits and commitments”. The T-Mobile Arena is projected to sit about 17,500 fans for hockey.

Stayed tuned to TFTPB.com for more on the NHL’s potential expansion, as we go team-by-team breaking down who might be available to potential franchises in Las Vegas and/or Quebec City.