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.
Interest has also been received from the city of Prescott Valley, Arizona which had previously had a team (Arizona Sundogs) in the Central Hockey League from 2006 to 2014 and then suspended operations in the months leading up to the ECHL/CHL merger in the fall of 2014. When the team had suspended operations in August of 2014 the ownership stated it was hoping to return to the then CHL for 2015-16.
The Missouri Mavericks, who play in the Kansas City suburb of Independence, may be moving up to the American Hockey League or be forced out of business for the 2017-18. Several reports have indicated that the St. Louis Blues may be purchasing an AHL franchise to be moved to Kansas City, Missouri's Sprint Center. The Blues affiliation agreement with the Chicago Wolves ends after the 2016-17 season. Reports in early 2016 had previously indicated that the ownership (Lamar Hunt, Jr.) of the Mavericks have shown interest in building a smaller arena on the Kansas side of the Kansas City metro area that would become home to a USHL team.
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-sev