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Las Vegas expected to be selected as hub city, per report

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It’s unclear whether the Golden Knights will be competing in Vegas, though.

NHL: T-Mobile Arena Views Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Las Vegas is expected to be named one of the two hub cities to host the 24-team return-to-play NHL playoff format, according to a report from SportsNet’s Chris Johnston.

An official decision has yet to be made, though the league is expected to announce both cities by June 22 ahead of the July 10 projected target date for training camps to commence.

Given the infrastructure and convenience already in place, Vegas has been considered a top candidate to serve as a hub city since the league announced its return-to-play plan on May 26. Other cities still believed to be in contention include Chicago, Columbus, Edmonton, Pittsburgh, Toronto and Vancouver.

The league reportedly has interest in choosing a Canadian city as the second hub location, though Canada’s strict 14-day COVID-19 quarantine mandate for anyone entering the country could make that difficult logistically.

It’s unclear whether Las Vegas will serve as the hub city for the Eastern Conference or Western Conference teams, but the league’s initial interest in maintaining neutral sites could indicate that the Golden Knights will not be playing in Sin City when the league returns, at least to start.

After finishing third in the Western Conference with a .606 points percentage, the Knights will compete in a three-game round-robin tournament with the St. Louis Blues, Colorado Avalanche and Dallas Stars to determine seeding for the 1-4 seeds. The other eight Western Conference teams returning to action will compete in best-of-five series as part of a qualifying round to determine the remaining four playoff teams in the Western Conference.

From there, the playoffs will proceed as normal with best-of-seven series, though teams will be reseeded after each round.

There is still much to be determined in the process of solidifying hub cities, including deciding which conference will play in which location and how scheduling will work with potential time zone challenges.

However, it appears that Las Vegas will be one of the two host cities. Should the Knights hang around, that could be significant down the road, even if the stands in T-Mobile Arena are empty.