The KHL has had some financial troubles over the past year, but that hasn’t stopped the league from eying expansion. The primarily Russian league has already put down roots in Finland, Ukraine, Latvia, Croatia and Kazakhstan. So what’s next? China, of course.
According to Pro Hockey Players Association agent Darryl Wolski, the KHL will be looking to expand to Beijing, China by the 2016-17 season. The move to China for the KHL is something that has been speculated about for quite some time, especially with the 2022 Winter Olympics potentially being held in Beijing.
KHL president Dmitry Chernyshenko said in May that the league was hoping to hold a regular season game in China as soon as the upcoming season. No schedule for the upcoming season has been released, but if the KHL wants to put a game in China, there’s a good possibility the KHL will see that game take place there this season.
Expansion at this juncture for the KHL may seem like risky business – they did have three teams sit out the past season due to financial difficulties – but the league has never been shy about wanting to become the biggest professional league outside of North America.
Previously, the league's former president Alexander Medvedev had mentioned the potential of expanding to 64 teams, which, at this point, seems entirely like a pipe dream.
“To create a top-notch international competition is necessary,” Medvedev said in 2012. “We need to create a pan-European system for the talent in Europe and set up a super-competition between the winners of the Stanley Cup and Europe to define the best team in the world.”