Rumblings have been afoot since the 2012 NHL lockout of expansion by the NHL. Player agent Allan Walsh repeatedly beat the drum that the league was already set to add teams after the lockout as negotiations between the league and the Players Association continued.
This season's NHL realignment chat changed the divisional format and spawned an uneven conference split (16 teams are n the Eastern Conference while 14 are in the west) seemed to further foretell the addition of teams in the near future. The fact that the alignment would be open for discussion after 2014-15 hinted it as well.
Flash forward to yesterday and an article out of Seattle with the benign headline that the NHL believes Seattle would be a "good hockey market." That title is harmless, just morale boosting... But then remember the city of Seattle nixed an AHL team (now the Utica Comets, the Vancouver Canucks affiliate) taking up residence in Seattle... It makes the following quote from the article very much belivable:
Sources say there have been negotiations between the league and potential ownership groups in Seattle about the cost of expansion fees. To the point where the NHL and local officials could be prepared to make some type of announcement shortly after the Olympic Games in Sochi conclude - at a time the NHL hopes nationwide interest in its sport will be at a high point.
Seattle would be NHL team #31. If the above report is true, if the NHL truly is thisclose to going to 32 teams, then you can start your speculation where that 32nd team would be: Southern Ontario to break up the Maple Leaf monopoly? Quebec City? Kansas City? Las Vegas? I'll leave that speculation for comments.