This is the 2016-17 American Hockey League season. This is the league's 81st season. Each of the league's 5 California based teams and the Tucson Roadrunners will play a 68 game schedule while the remaining 24 members will play a 76 game schedule.
The St. Louis Blues of the NHL player development agreement with the Chicago Wolves ends at the 2016-17 season. The Blues have reportedly been working on landing an AHL franchise to be based out of the Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri. This franchise would probably mean the end of the Missouri Mavericks of the ECHL. Later published reports indicated that the Vegas Golden Knights may end up affiliating with the Wolves despite previously planning on splitting an affiliation with another team for the 2017-18 season. Reports in late January indicated that neither of these moves would be occuring. At the league All-Star Classic which coincided with the Board of Governors meeting AHL President/CEO Dave Andrews stated that the AHL might expand for 2017-18 but there have been no applications as of yet and that there was a better than 50/50 chance that there will be 31 teams for 2017-18 and that it is probably certain that the league would have a 31st team by the 2018-19 season.
On September 26, 2016 the Ottawa Senators announced they had purchased their AHL affiliate, the Binghamton Senators and would relocate the team to Yardmen Arena in Belleville, Ontario where they will become the Belleville Senators for the 2017-18 season. The team does still have a lease for a team to be based out of the arena for the next three seasons and the previous ownership has stated that "Their decicsion to relocate has no impact on the AHL's presence in the Southern Tier" and "at the appropriate time we will be happy to share more details with the entire community." The most likely candidate to replace the team in Binghamton is the Albany Devils. On January 29th; the AHL Board of Governors was scheduled to vote on the relocation of the franchise to Binghamton for the 2017-18 season. Albany had been averaging less than 3,000 fans per game (worst in the league for 2016-17) and had been in competition with the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Union College hockey teams for support in the area.
Home teams will wear light jerseys at home until the Christmas break and then wear dark jerseys at home after the break.
Rule 82 ("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.
Rule 1.10 ("Ice Cleaning") The ice cleaning procedures used during promotional timeouts will also be used prior to overtime during the regular season, replacing the “dry scrape.”
Rule 46 ("Fighting")/Rule 23 ("Game Misconducts") Players who enter into a fight prior to, at, or immediately following the drop of the puck for a faceoff will be assessed an automatic game misconduct in addition to other penalties assessed. During the regular season, any player who incurs his 10th fighting major shall be suspended automatically for one (1) game. For each subsequent fighting major up to 13, the player shall also be suspended automatically for one (1) game. During the regular season, any player who incurs his 14th fighting major shall be suspended automatically for two (2) games. For each subsequent fighting major, the player shall also be suspended automatically for two (2) games. In any instance where the opposing player was assessed an instigator penalty, the fighting major shall not count towards the player’s total for this rule.
The Calder Cup playoffs format was changed to the top four teams in each division qualifying for the playoffs (a change from the fifth place team being able to qualify if they had a better record than the fourth place team in the other division in their conference). The standings will be ranked by points percentage as was the case in 2015-16 with six of the teams playing 8 fewer games than the other 24.