The timing may seem strange and off-putting, but there will come a time when the NHL can think about its future, long-term plans.
Right now, the only thing that matters is the lockout that has just wiped out all games through the end of November (source: Elliotte Friedman of CBC.ca).
That's painful and depressing, but there is still time to save the season and ultimately crown a champion during the postseason.
With the lockout in place, a number of NHL players have decided to play in European leagues. That's where the NHL may decide to expand at some point in the future.
A European division may make more sense for the NHL than any of the other North American sports leagues.
The game is played well and with passion throughout Europe. It's not a game that would have to be forced on Europeans the way the NFL tried to do with NFL Europa (source: NFL.com).
Expanding to Europe would create increased competition and interest in hockey.