The Evansville IceMen announced they would be moving to Owensboro, Kentucky for the 2016-17 season, However, the arena would require renovations and the league approved a one year hiatus along with the relocation. Evansville was awarded an expansion team in the Southern Professional Hockey League for the 2016-17 season. The future of the team is now uncertain after the city had objected to the cost of a proposed new arena and the team declined to foot the bill for the renovations at the Owensboro Sportscenter. In late January 2017 the franchise was reportedly sold to ownership from Jacksonville, Florida that planned on relocating the franchise to the city.
The league received an application from a group in Portland, Maine for an expansion team to replace their departed American Hockey LeaguePortland Pirates. The application was for an expansion team but the group was also working on securing a relocated team if possible. The time frame for the addition of Portland was also for the 2017-18 season. Apparently, as of early December 2016 not enough investors have come forward and the application must be addressed at the January 2017 Board of Governors meeting.
The Elmira Jackals are facing the possibility of having to relocate after the 2016-17 season as the ownership of the First Arena, the city of Elmira, and Chemung County have not been able to come to an agreement on funding for a new ice plant for the arena. Present ownership of the arena has been trying to sell the arena and may be forced to have the arena go dark if either funding for a new ice plant or a sale does not occur. The team ended up announcing on March 10th that the team will cease operations at the end of the season.
News media (KTVA channel 11 Anchorage) has published reports that the Alaska Aces were considering folding or relocating after the 2016-17 season possibly ending the teams nearly 30 year existence in Anchorage and the Sullivan Arena. The state's two NCAA Division I men's hockey teams were also facing uncertain futures going into the future as state budget issues put both programs were on the chopping block, but were spared when funding was cut to other athletic teams at the schools. Travel expenses have long been a major issue for teams based out of Alaska, who usually have to help offset the visiting team's traveling expenses. The Kenai River Brown Bears of the junior level North American Hockey League have also been involved in published reports of the team folding or relocating. On February 23, 2017 the team officially announced that they would be ceasing operations at the end of the 2016-17 season. The league's Board of Governors quickly approved a voluntary suspension of operations for the team; but the team was saved by a local fundraising effort and the team (Brown Bears) was reactived for 2017-18 in April
The league Board of Governors voted to change rule #81 Icing- In addition to not being permitted to make player substitutions, the offending team on an icing violation also may not use its team time-out.
The league did not announce any changes in the format for the playoffs. The top four teams in each division qualify for the playoffs. The first two rounds of the playoffs would be within the division with the match ups being 1 vs 4 and 2 vs 3. with the first round winners meeting in the diviosion final. The two division champions meet for the conference championship and the conference champions meeting for the Kelly Cup. All four rounds of the playoffs are best-of-seven.