Over the last three decades, the NHL's expansion into the American Sun Belt has served to diversify the league's geography and fan profile. Markets with high Latino populations such as Phoenix, Dallas-Fort Worth and Miami have reaped the benefits.

Now, the league is poised to make its next ambitious leap: Mexico.

"I was saying a couple years ago, 'How cool would it be to just play an exhibition game in Mexico City?'" Toronto Maple Leafs star center Auston Matthews, who is of Mexican heritage, recently told ESPN. "It'd be awesome to literally play a hockey game in Mexico and just see what happens."

The idea of full-fledged expansion beyond the United States and Canada remains far-fetched, but the NHL is seeking to follow in the footsteps of other North American leagues by expanding outside of its traditional fan base. Additionally, the idea of playing either a preseason or regular-season game in Mexico is picking up steam in the highest reaches of the league office.