The NHL is now officially the first major professional sports league to gamble on Las Vegas.
On Wednesday, the NHL's board of governors unanimously approved expanding to this city, making the franchise the 31st team in the league.
The team will start play during the 2017-18 season and will be included in the Pacific Division. The league said its current playoff format will not change.
In the expansion draft, which will take place next year, the Las Vegas franchise must select one player from each team for a total of 30 players with at least 20 being under contract for the 2017-18 season. The franchise also must select at least 14 forwards, nine defensemen and three goaltenders.
Each existing team will have two options for protected lists, which they must submit by 5 p.m. ET on June 17, 2017: Seven forwards, three defensemen and one goaltender or eight skaters (forwards/defensemen) and one goaltender. Players in their first and second years and unsigned draft choices will be exempt from selection.
Players with "no movement" clauses in their contract that decline to waive those rights must be included in a club's protected list.
Players with potential career-ending injuries or that missed more than 60 consecutive games for their clubs cannot be used by teams to satisfy the quota of exposed players.
Teams must expose at least one defenseman and two forwards who are under contract in 2017-18 and that played in 40 or more games in the NHL the prior season or 70 or more NHL games in the prior two seasons.
Teams must also expose one goaltender who is under contract in 2017-18 or will be a restricted free agent when his contract expires before the 2017-18. If a club chooses the latter option, the goaltender must have received a qualifying offer from the club before it submits its protected list.
The deadline for the Las Vegas franchise to submit its selections is 5 p.m. ET on June 20, 2017. The team's selections will be announced on June 21, 2017.
In the 2017 NHL draft lottery, the Las Vegas team will have the same odds as the team finishing with the third-fewest point total in 2016-17 and will be guaranteed to pick no lower than sixth in the first round. It will pick third in each round for the remainder of the draft
"In the fall of 2017, when we celebrate the 100th birthday of the NHL, we will do so as a League of 31 teams," NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. "We are pleased to welcome Bill Foley and the city of Las Vegas to the League and are truly excited that an NHL franchise will be the first major professional sports team in this vibrant, growing, global destination city."
Foley, a West Point graduate, paid the $500 million expansion fee to bring NHL hockey to Las Vegas and the announcement is the culmination of two years of hard work for him that included a successful season ticket drive to prove local interest.
The approval of Las Vegas temporarily puts Quebec City's hopes of landing an NHL team on hold. Quebec City was the other city to go through the NHL's formal expansion process but ultimately the league decided to settle on just one franchise for now, keeping open the option of Quebec as a relocation destination for a current NHL team.
Bettman announced that Quebec City's expansion application has been deferred.
"The decision to defer, however, was based on elements over which the Quebec City group had no control of whatsover."
Bettman cited fluctuation of Canadian dollar and league's geographic imbalance as a conditions for deferring Quebec City.
"The expansion process conducted over the past year gave us an excellent opportunity to present our business plan and promote Quebec City as a city that can support an NHL franchise," Pierre Dion, CEO and President of Quebecor said. "We will continue to work with determination to achieve this goal."
Jeremy Jacobs called Quebec City a strong candidate for future expansion.