The NHL has agreed to three rule changes for next season:
1) The overtime format will change from a 5-minute four-on-four to a 5-minute three-on-three. This will really open things up, with the intention of having few games go to a shootout. Johansen/Atkinson/Murray; Anisimov/Foligno/Johnson; Wennberg/Hartnell/Savard could be some interesting combos for the Jackets.
2) A coach's challenge is being introduced, but it can only be used on goals where the play may have been offside, or if the goalie has been interfered with.
3) Some tweaking to the faceoff rules - under the old format, the visiting team always put their stick down first, regardless of where the faceoff was being taken. Under the new format, the defending team (ie. the faceoff is in their defensive zone) shows first, while the visiting team continues to show first at center ice.
The NHL Awards were last night. I'll be honest, this is something I strategically avoid, mainly because I spend more time cringing. Then again, I do this with most award shows. Here's a recap of last night's winners:
Hart Trophy (League MVP): Carey Price, Canadiens
Ted Lindsay Award (MVP voted on by players): Carey Price, Canadiens
Vezina Trophy (Top Goaltender): Carey Price, Canadiens
Masterton Trophy (Perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey): Devan Dubnyk, Wild
Norris Trophy (Top Defenseman): Erik Karlsson, Senators
Selke Trophy (Top Defensive Forward): Patrice Bergeron, Bruins
Jack Adams Trophy (Coach of the Year): Bob Hartley, Flames
Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year): Aaron Ekblad, Panthers
Lady Byng Trophy (Most Gentlemanly Player): Jiri Hudler, Flames
GM of the Year: Steve Yzerman, Lightning
Mark Messier Leadership Award: Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks
Foundation Player Award (for charitable work in the community): Brent Burns, Sharks
As you can see, Carey Price absolutely cleaned up.
The NHL has announced that they are opening the formal expansion process. This doesn't guarantee anything, it's just an opportunity for groups to put forth applications to the league for review. The potential expansion groups have a window between July 6th and August 10th to submit their applications to the league.
It's expected that any new franchises would have to pay a $500 million expansion fee. To put it in perspective, the Jackets paid an $80 million fee when they joined the league.
The four cities that get the most attention when discussing expansion are Las Vegas, Seattle, Quebec City and Toronto. Vegas in in the midst of a ticket drive, and is building a state-of-the-art arena. Quebec City is about to open a brand new rink of their own, and Seattle is very much in the mix, but has yet to sort out a new building. A second team in Toronto has a lot of red tape to get through.
For the sake of discussion, and assuming no existing franchises relocate, here's a potential realignment for the 2017-2018 season:
It's hard to say if the league would be willing to put both new clubs in the same division, but it makes sense from a geographical standpoint.
The league has stated that no expansion team will take to the ice prior to the 2017-2018 season.