The NHL has been hinting at potential expansion for the last season, and applications for new teams submitted last offseason helped push the speculation towards a likely reality.
Now, the league has confirmed that there’s a chance fans will know for sure whether there will be new franchises in the coming seasons by June 22nd of this summer.
During Bettman’s media availability ahead of game one between the San Jose Sharks and the Pittsburgh Penguins, the NHL commissioner confirmed that a decision will be announced regarding the expansion process on the 22nd, just ahead of the NHL Entry Draft.
“That word,” confirmed Bettman, “will probably come in one of the following forms:
“Whether there will be no expansion; whether expansion will be deferred until a later time in the future; or whether there will be expansion, and if so whether it will be a one-team or a two-team expansion.
“I am not going to handicap what’s going to happen. But again, when the board meets in Las Vegas on June 22, I am fairly certain that we will know more than we do today.”
There are two teams that could currently be added to the league, as bids were submitted and accepted for new teams by ownership groups in Las Vegas, Nevada and Quebec City, Quebec.
While the league didn’t give explicit confirmation on the when’s and the how many’s of potential expansion, though, they did give some details about the draft that could help those new teams acquire full rosters. It was confirmed during the media address that teams will not have a minimum amount of cap space that they will need to expose, while it was also confirmed that any potential teams added via expansion will not be guaranteed top picks in their first entry draft; instead, they will be added to the lottery process, along with the other teams that did not make the postseason for that particular year.