The game will be played at the home of the WHL’s Saskatoon Blades, the Credit Union Center. It will mark the third time Edmonton’s hosted an exhibition contest in Saskatchewan — the Islanders played there in 2009; Blackhawks did in 2011.
While the NHL has a history of playing exhibition games in non-NHL markets, the playing of the game in Saskatoon in different because of the city coming up plenty of times over the years as an area looking to acquire an NHL franchise either via expansion or relocation.
From TSN’s Bob McKenzie in 2012 via Pro Hockey Talk:
Interested parties in Saskatoon have contacted the league and suggested there are individuals or parties in Saskatoon who would be willing to ante up the required purchase fee while various levels of government in Saskatchewan would make necessary arrangements to expand and make NHL-suitable the 15,800-seat Credit Union Centre.
Even though Saskatoon’s actual population is around 250,000 — which at face value would seem to be far too small to support an NHL franchise — the Saskatoon interests are pitching that an NHL franchise there would be supported by the entire province and it would be a viable operation.
While this likely won’t directly lead to an eighth team in Canada, the NHL will almost certainly keep an eye on how this game plays out in addition to the fan response.