How Have Expansion Franchises Fared In Their Inaugural Years?

This is a football site, but today we’re gonna look at the “core four” sports in America in regards to one thing: expansion teams.

Every league has gone through an expansion draft since 1990, with 18 teams being added, and the NHL gaining one tomorrow night. The Las Vegas Golden Knights will hold their expansion draft Wednesday night, where they can select a number of players from each existing team’s roster to create their own. These players are supposed to be at least league average, with a certain number of years played (in some sports), and multiple years remaining on their contracts. Typically, that means they are not throwaway players and will contribute to their new franchises.

With that in mind, and taking into account all things, let’s look at how these expansion teams have fared in their inaugural seasons. Each tie is counted as a half win, half loss. You can also see where each team placed in their division, if they made the playoffs, and how many player awards were won by the team. Teams denoted in bold are ones that have won a championship in their respective leagues since coming to fruition.

first year teamss

These results do not bode well for the Golden Knights. The best team on the list, the 1995 Carolina Panthers, posted a record 2 wins below .500, or .0625 away from breaking even. None of the teams did better than two places out of last in their divisions, and none made the playoffs. The Toronto Raptors, Vancouver (now Memphis) Grizzlies, and the Charlotte Bobcats are the only teams that had players on their teams win awards. The Raptors’ Damon Stoudamire won multiple awards (Rookie of the Year, All-Rookie First Team). He is the only player to do so.

While this is never truly indicative of team success, and it appears as though there is viable talent in this year’s expansion draft, it would be smart to bet against the Golden Knights for the majority of the year. You can see a breakdown of strictly NHL teams below. The results are not great.

nhl teams

Just two teams did better than place last in their division in their first year, with the Panthers coming one win away from .500. Historical trends would say that the Golden Knights will either come in last or second to last, winning around 28 games. Not exactly playoff material.

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