NHL expansion remains in the deliberation stage with no timetable on a decision, commissioner Gary Bettman said Monday.
The board of governors' executive committee discussed expansion applications from Quebec City and Las Vegas and brought it to the full group.
Bettman said the board has roughly 99 per cent of the information it needs on expansion, but that there are plenty of questions that still need to be answered, including the big one of whether to expand and many others surrounding a potential expansion draft.
"Having now seen the information that's been gathered, having been 99 per cent satisfied with what we've identified and what we've reported, then the committee will have to begin substantive discussions," Bettman said.
The executive committee met for three hours at a coastal resort on the Monterey Peninsula to talk about the expansion presentations given by Quebecor and Bill Foley's Black Knight Sports & Entertainment in September.
Bettman gave no indication when the issue will next be discussed, though the board next meets at the all-star weekend in Nashville at the end of January.
"It's an important, significant business decision, and it's being treated in a businesslike way," Bettman said.
The earliest the NHL could expand is the 2017-18 season, something Bettman said was still a possibility if the decision was made to add one or two teams.
Bettman called reports that the league is slowing the expansion process to wait for another city to join "categorically untrue." There had been some speculation about Seattle joining the fray, but Bettman said Quebec City and Las Vegas were the only places being considered this time.
"We're going to go through this process, complete this process one way or the other, and that's where we'll be," Bettman said. "If we decide at another point in time to reopen expansion, and I'm not saying we would, that's a subsequent decision. This process is this process for these two applicants. Period."
Bettman provided a very early projection of the 2016-17 salary cap, saying the range was from the current $71.4-million (U.S.) to about $74.5-million. That increase would include the NHL Players' Association using its 5-per-cent escalator clause.
"It's not set in stone or concrete so you have to tread carefully," New Jersey Devils general manager Ray Shero said. "It's good news for the league when [the cap] goes up, good news for the players."
Bettman said revenue was growing despite the sagging Canadian dollar, which is worth roughly 74 cents U.S.
Topics to be discussed Tuesday include the league's concussion protocol and the controversial executive compensation policy. Bettman doesn't expect that to be a contentious debate.
"We don't have too many contentious discussions," he said. "This is a very, very businesslike, savvy, hockey-passionate board and overwhelmingly we come to consensus if not complete agreement on virtually everything we do."