(Reuters) - The Vegas Golden Knights officially joined the National Hockey League on Wednesday as the league's 31st team after completing the expansion transaction on Wednesday.

The Golden Knights, who will begin playing in the 2017-18 season, are now formally cleared to make trades and roster transactions under the expansion club rules and regulations set forth by the league.

"Today we reached another significant milestone in our team's history — the Vegas Golden Knights are officially a National Hockey League franchise," team owner Bill Foley, who is who is chairman of U.S. title insurance services provider Fidelity National Financial, said in a statement.

"Now that we are official, we look forward to continuing this momentum and building a team that our fans and our community will be proud of."


The NHL rolled the dice on expanding to Las Vegas last June when league owners voted unanimously to put the first major professional sports team in the resort city known primarily for gambling.

The ownership group, which paid a $500 million franchise fee, is headed by Foley and includes the Maloof family, the former owners of the NBA's Sacramento Kings.

An expansion draft will be held in June that will determine the makeup of the Golden Knights' roster. Until then, the team can discuss trades with other teams and even sign players.

"On behalf of the Board of Governors, I am delighted to officially welcome the Vegas Golden Knights to the NHL," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement.

"Congratulations to Bill Foley, the Foley family, the Maloof family, the city of Las Vegas and the Golden Knights' fans as the team embarks on its exciting journey."

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto. Editing by Steve Keating.)

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