/NHL Expansion Teams: How Long Does It Take to Compete?

NHL Expansion Teams: How Long Does It Take to Compete?

Las Vegas is known for many things. Hockey? Not one of them, at least not yet. As any casual NHL fan knows, the Vegas Golden Knights will be the first expansion team in the NHL since the Minnesota Wild and Columbus Blue Jackets were added in 2000.

But just how long does it take for an expansion team to contend? While there is no definite answer, let’s take a look at how long previous expansion teams took to contend.

1967 Expansion – California Seals, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins & St. Louis Blues

California Seals

Notable Expansion Draft Picks: G Charlie Hodge, G Gary Smith, D Bob Baun, D Kent Douglas, D Bill Hicke, LW J.P. Parise, D Tracy Pratt

First Winning Season: The Seals franchise never finished above .500

First Playoff Appearance: 1968-69 season

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 10.56.15 PM.png

After an unsuccessful 9 seasons in California, the Seals moved to Ohio, becoming the Cleveland Barons.

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 11.08.08 PMLos Angeles Kings

Notable Expansion Draft Picks: Terry Sawchuk, RW Lowell MacDonald

First Winning Season: 1974-75 season (42-17-21)

First Playoff Appearance: 1967-68 season 

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 10.58.57 PM.png

Minnesota North Stars

Notable Expansion Draft Picks: G Garry Bauman, LW Dave Balon, D Bob Woytowich, D Jean-Guy Talbot, RW Bill Goldsworthy, LW Andre Pronovost, D Elmer Vasko, RW Murray Hall

First Winning Season: 1971-72 season (37-29-12)

First Playoff Appearance: 1967-68 season

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 11.04.51 PM.png

Philadelphia Flyers

Notable Expansion Draft Picks: G Bernie Parent, D Ed Van Impe, D Joe Watson, C/W Leon Rochefort, RW Gary Dornhoefer

First Winning Season: 1972-73 season (37-30-11)

First Playoff Appearance: 1967-68 season

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 11.08.00 PM

Pittsburgh Penguins

Notable Expansion Draft Picks: LW Ab MacDonald, D Leo Poivin, D Noel Price, RW Ken Schinkel, C Andy Bathgate

First Winning Season: 1974-75 season (37-28-15)

First Playoff Appearance: 1969-70 season 

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 11.09.18 PM.png

St. Louis Blues

Notable Expansion Picks: G Glenn Hall, D Jim Roberts, D Noel Picard, D Al Arbour, D Rod Seiling, C Don McKenney, C Bill Hay, C Ron Stewart, C Gerry Melnyk

First Winning Season: 1968-69 season (37-25-14)

First Playoff Appearance: 1967-68 season

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 11.13.32 PM

1970 Expansion – Buffalo Sabres & Vancouver Canucks

Buffalo Sabres

Notable Expansion Draft Picks: C Don Marshall, D Tracy Pratt, C Phil Goyette, D Reg Fleming

First Winning Season: 1972-73 season (37-27-14)

First Playoff Appearance: 1972-73 season

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 7.31.09 PM

Vancouver Canucks

Notable Expansion Draft Picks: C Orland Kurtenbach, D Barry Wilkins, G Charlie Hodge

First Winning Season: 1974-75 season (38-32-10)

First Playoff Appearance: 1974-75 season 

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 7.33.25 PM

1972 Expansion – Atlanta Flames & New York Islanders

Atlanta Flames

Notable Expansion Draft Picks: G Phil Myre, G Dan Bouchard, C Larry Romachych, D Randy Manery, LW Ernie Hicke, C Bob Leiter

First Winning Season: 1974-75 season (34-31-15)

First Playoff Appearance: 1973-74 season 

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 7.35.28 PM

New York Islanders

Notable Expansion Draft Picks: G Billy Smith, C Dave Hudson, RW Ed Westfall, LW Brian Spencer, D Gerry Hart

First Winning Season: 1974-75 season (30-25-22)

First Playoff Appearance: 1974-75 season

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 7.42.20 PM

 1974 Expansion – Kansas City Scouts & Washington Capitals

Kansas City Scouts

Notable Expansion Draft Picks: G Michael Plasse, RW Simon Nolet, LW Gary Croteau, C Dave Hudson

First Winning Season: Never above .500 under the Kansas City Scouts name, the franchise, under the New Jersey Devils name, finished above .500 for the first time in the 1987-88 season

First Playoff Appearance: 1977-78 season 

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 7.43.53 PM

After 2 short years in Kansas City, the Scouts franchise moved to Colorado, forming the Colorado Rockies.

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 7.44.18 PM

The move to Colorado did not pan out, and after 6 seasons, the franchise moved again to form the New Jersey Devils as we know them today.

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 7.44.59 PM

Washington Capitals

Notable Expansion Draft Picks: G Ron Low, D Yvon Labre, D Gord Smith, LW Dennis Dupere, LW Mike Bloom

First Winning Season: 1982-83 season (39-25-16)

First Playoff Appearance: 1982-83 season 

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 7.52.26 PM.png

1979 Expansion – Edmonton Oilers, Hartford Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, Winnipeg Jets

Edmonton Oilers

Notable Expansion Draft Picks: D Doug Hicks, RW Cam Connor

First Winning Season: 1981-82 season (48-17-5)

First Playoff Appearance: 1979-80 season 

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 7.48.29 PM.png

Hartford Whalers

Notable Expansion Draft Picks: D Al Sims, LW Nick Foitu

First Winning Season: 1985-86 season (40-36-4)

First Playoff Appearance: 1979-80 season 

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 7.54.05 PM

Quebec Nordiques

Notable Expansion Draft Picks: LW Alain Cote

First Winning Season: 1981-82 season (33-31-16)

First Playoff Appearance: 1980-81 season 

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 7.56.47 PM.png

Winnipeg Jets

Notable Expansion Draft Picks: LW Peter Marsh, D Al Cameron

First Winning Season: 1984-85 season (43-27-10)

First Playoff Appearance: 1981-82 season 

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 7.58.51 PM

1991 Expansion – San Jose Sharks

Notable Expansion Draft Picks: G Jeff Hackett, D Jayson More, RW Greg Paslawski

First Winning Season: 1999-2000 season (35-30-10-7)

First Playoff Appearance: 1993-94 season

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 10.51.05 PM

 1992 Expansion – Ottawa Senators & Tampa Bay Lightning

Ottawa Senators

Notable Expansion Draft Picks: D Brad Shaw, D Darren Rumble, LW Sylvain Turgeon, D Mike Peluso, C Mark Lamb, RW Blair Atcheynum

First Winning Season: 1997-98 (34-33-15)

First Playoff Appearance: 1996-97 season

Screen Shot 2017-03-19 at 10.42.47 PM

Tampa Bay Lightning

Notable Expansion Draft Picks: D Joe Reekie, D Shawn Chambers, C Anatoli Semenov, RW Rob DiMaio, C Brian Bradley

First Winning Season: 1995-96 season (38-32-12)

First Playoff Appearance: 1995-96 season

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 8.45.45 PM.png

1993 Expansion – Florida Panthers & Anaheim Mighty Ducks

Florida Panthers

Notable Expansion Draft Picks: G John Vanbiesbrouck, D Paul Laus, D Gord Murphy, RW Tom Fitzgerald, RW Scott Mellanby, LW Dave Lowry

First Winning Season: 1995-96 season (41-31-10)

First Playoff Appearance: 1995-96 season

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 9.04.26 PM

Anaheim Mighty Ducks

Notable Expansion Draft Picks: G Guy Hebert, C Terry Yake, C Bob Corkum, RW Joe Sacco

First Winning Season: 1996-97 season

First Playoff Appearance: 1996-97 season

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 9.16.33 PM.png

1998 Expansion – Nashville Predators

Nashville Predators

Notable Expansion Draft Picks: LW Andrew Brunette, C Greg Johnson, G Thomas Vokoun, RW Scott Walker

First Winning Season: 2003-04 season (38-29-11-4)

First Playoff Appearance: 2003-04 season

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 9.27.18 PM.png

1999 Expansion – Atlanta Thrashers

Notable Expansion Draft Picks: RW Kelly Buchberger, D Brett Clark, RW Steve Staios, D Chris Tamer, D Yannick Tremblay

First Winning Season: 2005-06 season (41-33-8)

First Playoff Appearance: 2006-07 seasonScreen Shot 2017-03-20 at 9.37.03 PM

2000 Expansion – Columbus Blue Jackets & Minnesota Wild

Colombus Blue Jackets

Notable Expansion Draft Picks: G Dwayne Roloson, D Mathieu Schneider, LW Geoff Sanderson, C Kevyn Adams, RW Dallas Drake

First Winning Season: 2008-09 season (41-31-3)

First Playoff Appearance: 2008-09 season

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 10.02.18 PM

Minnesota Wild

Notable Expansion Draft Picks: D Sean O’Donnell, D Filip Kuba, C Darby Hendrickson, C Jim Dowd

First Winning Season: 2002-03 season (42-29-10-1)

First Playoff Appearance: 2002-03 season

Screen Shot 2017-03-20 at 11.02.55 PM


Dean Snock is a writer for Good Night, Good Hockey and a Hershey Bears reporter. You can follow him on Twitter @DSnock97.

Dean is a lifelong Philadelphia sports fan (note the Carson Wentz photoshop) and an aspiring sportswriter. He is a student at Millersville University where he is studying sports journalism. The primary way of contacting Dean is at this email: deansnock@gnghockey.com.