A new franchise, started from scratch, that begins play in the NHL. The requirements for a franchise to enter the NHL include having a wealthy owner, having an arena that is suitable by NHL standards, and being located in an area where there is high interest in the team to ensure that the franchise will be profitable in the long run.
In recent years, there have been few expansion teams in the NHL; the last time expansion teams joined the NHL was in 2000, when the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Minnesota Wild came into existence. New teams are more likely to come into the NHL by way of relocation (moving one franchise to another city) than by expansion.
Because expansion teams are started from scratch and initially have no players signed to their rosters, they participate in the expansion draft acquire players. There are not many talented players made available for selection in the expansion draft, so expansion teams usually struggle in their first couple of seasons in the NHL. From 1991 to 2000, every expansion team that has entered the NHL has recorded consecutive losing seasons to start. The Florida Panthers were the only expansion team to have success relatively early, making it to the Stanley Cup finals in only their third season in the NHL.