One important hurdle to potential expansion appears to have been cleared, although the most important decision -- whether to officially commit to adding more teams to the league -- has yet to be made.
Sources confirmed on Friday that the NHL and NHL Players’ Association have concluded "extensive discussions" on a variety of issues related to potential expansion, including the basic structure of an expansion draft. The rules were announced in general form at the NHL's general managers' meetings last month.
An important development still to be decided, however, is when the owners’ executive committee will make a formal recommendation on expansion, and what that recommendation will be. The likeliest scenario continues to be that the committee recommends expansion to Las Vegas.
I would bet that the executive committee will make its recommendation before the end of May, but that’s just speculation on my part. There’s still no official timeline on expansion.
Commissioner Gary Bettman said earlier this season that a decision would need to be made before the end of June for an expansion franchise to join the league for the 2017-18 season. Pushing the verdict back any further would mean delaying expansion until at least 2018-19.