This year saw the debut of two expansion teams, the Vegas Golden Knights and the Minnesota Wild, in the NHL. Both teams were awesome in their inaugural season and with the NHL’s expansion draft and trade deadlines in full swing, there has been plenty of activity.

Rather than the usual suspects in hockey, you’ll find that some of the best expansion teams in all of history hail from the desert of Las Vegas. The success of the Las Vegas Golden Knights has created a national, and even international, conversation about expansion in the NHL. It is easy to look at the Knights’ success as some sort of anomaly, but it is just the latest chapter in a long history of expansion teams who have found success in the desert.

It’s no secret that sports are a major part of the American culture. Big-time college and professional sports are huge parts of the American sports landscape. According to ESPN, the United States has spent $24.5 billion on the NFL alone. And to say that sports are big business is an understatement.

The Vegas Golden Knights have accomplished what few thought possible, becoming a respected team in their first year of existence. The Golden Knights entered the NHL in 2017 and reached the Stanley Cup Final after winning their conference, but suffered a setback down the stretch. Their rise has been meteoric, and they may be the best expansion team in history even after just one season, but are there other teams that deserve the same recognition?

Arizona Diamondbacks

The Diamondbacks didn’t have as much of an immediate impact as the Golden Knights, but they did win the World Series in their first three years. Their first season ended in a loss, but in their second season they made the playoffs, becoming the only team in Major League Baseball to do so in two years. They lost to the Mets in their first playoff series, but in 2001 they won the World Series by beating the New York Yankees.

It’s not just the Golden Knights – the best expansion teams of all time.

Jacksonville Jaguars

Since the 1960s, 11 teams have entered the NFL, but none succeeded as quickly as the Jacksonville Jaguars. The Jaguars’ first season was not a success, but their second season was memorable. They first played in the NFL in 1995 and went 4-12 that season.

The next year they cleaned up, finished the league with a 9-7 record and even qualified for the AFC Championship. Like the Golden Knights, they lost the championship game, but made it to the league by winning their regional division in 2017.

It’s not just the Golden Knights – the best expansion teams of all time.

Florida Panthers

Since the NHL merged with the World Hockey Association, ten teams have joined the NHL, and of those, only the Golden Knights have made the playoffs in two seasons. The Florida Panthers ice hockey team initially had the same success as Las Vegas, but it took them three years instead of one to reach the Stanley Cup finals.

Although the Stanley Cup was out of reach in 1996, the Panthers defeated some of the league’s best teams, including the Boston Bruins and the Pittsburgh Penguins. Since then, the Panthers have failed to reach the second round of the playoffs, and the Golden Knights are hoping to maintain their initial success rather than take a step back.

Carolina Panthers

In 1995, the Carolina Panthers came into the NFL and performed a miracle with decent performances. Most teams will lose most games in the first year, but they will try to make some games competitive. Not only did the Panthers make up the numbers, but they finished their first season with the best record for an expansion franchise in the league. They showed the league that they are not a contender with a 7-9 loss.

It’s not just the Golden Knights – the best expansion teams of all time.

All of these teams have exceeded expansion expectations, but none of them have been able to accomplish what the Golden Knights have. The Golden Knights hope to do better than last year and become Stanley Cup champions next season.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the Golden Knights the best expansion team?

The Golden Knights are the best expansion team in NHL history.

Has an expansion team ever won a championship?

Yes, the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup in 1993.

Are the Golden Knights an expansion team?

No, the Golden Knights are not an expansion team.

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