League growing; can teams keep up?

OK, so we're not quite ready to resume just yet. Let's enjoy the minute or two that passes for an NHL offseason before rushing back into the fray.

Still, it's never too early to imagine what might come to pass in the coming season. And goodness knows the Olympic orientation camps in late August, as well as rookie and training camps shortly thereafter, will be upon us all too soon.

With that in mind, we thought we would spend the week looking ahead to the 2013-14 season.


With the Phoenix Coyotes' ownership situation stabilized for the first time since, well, maybe forever (er, sorry, the Arizona Coyotes, as the team henceforth will be known), the NHL looks more and more like a league poised to get even larger. The speculation of a possible move to Seattle won't go away, even after the Coyotes secured a new lease from the folks in Glendale, Ariz.

The security in Glendale for at least the next five years will only heighten discussion of plans for possible expansion, with Seattle on the docket. And there's the ongoing desire in Quebec City for the return of the NHL, as well as the lure of additional big-time expansion fees, should there be a second team in the Toronto area.

But any talk of expansion must be juxtaposed with problem areas for the league, most notably with the New Jersey Devils, who continue to represent the NHL's most precarious ownership situation. There are rumors of new owners waiting in the wings in New Jersey as well as rumblings that there could be an infusion of cash for the Florida Panthers, for whom money has always been an issue. Both markets need to stabilize their ownership situations before the league can realistically think of growing its number to 32.

The Dallas Stars are another team that needs to reassert itself in the marketplace. With league revenues expected to increase through the 2013-14 season, it will be interesting to see which teams grow and which continue to wither on the vine.