It’s been suspected for a while now that the World Cup will return in September 2016 and be played primarily in Toronto, but the NHL has shied away from making that official.
Part of the reason for the delay is that the NHL and players’ union want to be in a position where they can also announce that World Cup will be played in regular intervals, according to ESPN. The tournament previously ran in 1996 and 2004.
The current belief is that eight countries will participate in the tournament. Canada, the United States, Russia, Finland, Sweden, and the Czech Republic are expected to be six of them, but the other two nations remain a mystery and it’s possible that there will be a qualification process to fill the last two spots.
If the timing of the World Cup announcement works out, then the NHL might also confirm Premiere Games’ return as the league has interest in playing regular season contests in Europe next season. The NHL hasn’t held the Premiere Games since 2011.
The other big question when it comes to international hockey is whether or not NHL players will be able to participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. Based on ESPN’s sources, it sounds like the NHL’s plans with regards to the Olympics and World Cup might not be linked. That means that the NHL can announce its World Cup plans before coming to a decision on the Winter Games.